During the last few years school districts have been forced to rely more and more on local property taxes to supplement the money appropriated by the legislature to pay our teachers, maintain our facilities and pay for programs that enhance our students’ education. This year, in a down economy, not only are the funds from the state budget impacted, but the local funding from property taxes will be affected as well.
As Morgan County has grown and our property values increased, the amount of taxes we have been able to generate has been maintained with less impact on each individual property owner. New growth allows us to spread the tax dollars needed over more households lessening the impact on everyone. This year in Morgan County the assessed valuation of our properties has decreased and there are more cases of delinquent taxes; our new growth has not been sufficient to replace those values. This means that in order to raise the same amount of tax dollars this year as we did last year to make our bond payments and meet other local levy obligations, the State Tax Commission will be increasing our Certified Tax Rates.
A large part of the property taxes assessed by the school district are for what is called the “Basic Levy”. This levy is set by the state tax commission and is the same for all school districts in the state. The money generated from the levy is deducted from the money we receive from the state budget which requires each community to make a local effort to support their schools and is the state’s effort at equalizing school funding. For a district like Park City that has the assessed values to generate many times what most communities can, their Basic Levy generates more than their “per student share” of the state revenues, thus they receive no K-12 funding from the state and in fact, many years, they send the state several hundred thousand of their tax dollars to support other districts. As assessed property values fall throughout the state this Basic Levy rate has been increased by the state tax commission to generate the same amount of dollars as last year. Much of the tax increase we will see this year is from the increased Basic Levy.
Like you, the school district has been tightening their belt, making changes that will save money, cutting expenditures in the areas we can that won’t have a negative impact on our children’s education. All of these efforts will allow us to ease the budget cuts passed down by the legislature last spring and help us meet our obligations with less impact to our taxpayers. In the next years as we come out of the recession and growth in the county resumes, we will be able to again spread the tax impact out over more properties and benefit from the growth as we have in the last few years.
Besides paying to build and maintain school facilities, our property tax dollars are vital to providing the well rounded education the children of our community deserve. We are lucky to live in a community that cares about educating their children where we are able supplement, with local revenue, the programs that will give our children the educational experiences that will help them be successful in their lives.