Lehi residents recently received a city property tax increase, rising utility rates and now a school district property tax increase in the last year as inflation continues to afflict the Country.
The Alpine School District (ASD) Board of Education held a truth in taxation (TNT) meeting on Tuesday to raise property tax and voted to increase revenues by approximately $21.6 million, representing a 7.8% hike.
The TNT system is revenue-driven instead of rate-driven, resulting in a decreased property tax rate when property values increase. The objective of the TNT system is to be revenue-neutral and have the taxing entity receive the same tax revenue each year per property unit.
The certified rate should be .005118 this year, and the board approved a four-increment increase to .005518. Last year’s rate was .005724.
“There are always more requests and needs than there are dollars. Just like in our own homes and our Country,” said Assistant Superintendent Rob Smith when presenting the proposal.
Residents received the proposed 13.8% increase in their tax notice this year, with an example increase from $1,029 to $1,219 for the Utah County median home value of $493,000. The median business tax was projected to increase from $1,872 annually to $2,217. The district ultimately approved a 7.8% increase, about half of the initially proposed amount.
The district said the increased tax revenue would be used to keep some programs funded by 2020 COVID federal relief funds, specifically in teacher compensation, class size reduction and special needs categories.
The district also cited inflationary pressures, with teacher compensation up 30%, transportation and fuel cost up 32%, new school construction up 43%, and utilities up 28% from just a few years ago.
“The last two years, you’ve [the board] given the largest teacher compensation increase in Alpine School District in at least the 21 years I’ve been here,” noted Smith during Tuesday’s discussion.
The public came out with a packed room at Alpine School District headquarters. Over 40 residents expressed their opinion, mostly opposed, with a few favoring the tax increase.
Patrons who opposed the tax hike stated their concern with the ever-growing school district budget and the years of previous tax increases. In contrast, others asked the district to tighten their belts and cut spending as they’ve had to do with recent economic strains.
Those opposed to the increase mentioned the negative effect on older adults and people with disabilities on fixed incomes.
Proponents of the increase expressed support for increasing school funding and resources, stating the amount was minimal to the average homeowner’s budget and mentioned the need to provide the service levels they would like in public education.
After public comment, the board had a brief discussion before the increase passed with a unanimous vote.
“I always try to make my decisions based on three things, student outcomes, school safety and accountability to the taxpayers. Canyon’s [school district] rate is higher, Granite is higher, Davis is higher, Provo is higher, and Nebo is higher. We’re working incredibly hard to keep taxes down and be accountable,” said Lehi and Saratoga board member Joylin Lincoln when explaining her vote.
“We can’t say that we love teachers and value teachers if we’re unwilling to give them the support, resources and tools they need to do their jobs effectively,” said Lehi board member Stacy Bateman.