Wasatch School District Focuses On $4.4 Million Shortfall Caused By Tax Error

Dec 12, 2019


Credit Wasatch School District / Wasatch County School District Board of Education

The Wasatch School District is impacted to the tune of about $4.5 million due to an error made by the county assessor’s office valuing a home at $1 billion. Overcrowding and the failure of the capital school bond has the board of education considering next steps.

The Wasatch County School Board of Education must make some adjustments in response to the overcrowding issues they face, now that the $150 million bond went down to defeat. 

Communications Director John Moss says this year, they’re looking at a $4.4 million shortage and while they need to deal with the bond failure, their more pressing work is to figure out how to proceed with the revenue shortfall caused by an error in the assessor’s office. He says they’ll draw down on some of their tax reserves and put off certain capital projects.

“They assessed a single dwelling as a $1 billion home and it changed all the tax rates for everyone. That shorted us on the money that would be coming to us this year so we're dealing with that. That's actually been a higher priority for the board to deal with and then what are we going to do because the bond didn’t pass.”

Moss says they held the school tax rate steady for this year and he isn’t sure yet what they’ll need when they hold the next truth in taxation meeting next year.

If the school bond had passed, they planned to build a new Midway Elementary School. He says they currently have four portables on the property which provide eight classrooms.

“Midway will have to stay in use until we can find a way to replace that. But that is one that obviously we won't be taking down. We will be making some adjustments there. We don't know that we can really add portables, but the property isn't large enough. It's only an 8-acre piece of property. It would be more likely that the in another year or two we would start by adjusting our bus route and bussing kids to other schools.”

Had the bond succeeded, they would have used most of the $150 million to build a second Wasatch county high school north of Heber. The board finalized the purchase of the property that will house a future high school.

“It was a fairly complicated purchase and one of those was the Heber City itself. They owned 2.02 acres on the corner of the property where we would like to build this new school. They traded that acreage to us for some acreage that the school district has over and next our bus garage that’s right at the end of the Heber City airport runway and our board approved that last night. That was the final piece of the purchase for the land where we would like to put our new high school.”

The board does not plan to initiate another school bond right now. Moss says they will regroup and ask the community what they want to do to address the anticipated growth in the district.