The last issue of TMCN reported that the Cottonwoods subdivision developer had requested incremental tax funding for a reservoir that he/they want to develop in conjunction with his North Side Creek subdivision. Incremental tax is the tax difference between the undeveloped land (the bare lot) and the property after it has been developed (i.e., in this case after homes have been built on the lots).
Currently about 66 percent of Morgan County property tax goes to the Morgan School District--to educate our youth. This 66 percent amounted to $6,070,030 in FY 2012--a significant portion of our school funding. The remainder comes from legislatively appropriated funds. Because of increased student enrollment and other factors the District is facing a budget shortfall of $500,000 this year. The result: reduction of teachers and staff, larger class sizes--more work for teachers for the same pay, and other reductions.
Incremental tax comes from development, in this case building residences on 22 lots. Residential development generates kids--more students. Traditionally the funds to educate these additional students comes in large part from the increased tax revenue on the developed properties--the incremental tax. Now we have a developer brazenly requesting these educational funds for the enhancement of his own private development. The developer is proposing to rob public educational funds to finance a development that will more than anything else serve primarily to enhance the value of his development.
The developer justifies his request by asserting that “Lot values will escalate” because of the reservoir. “It is an economic driver to this.” (TMCN). This is pure conjecture and speculation and smoke, with no analysis or facts to support it. And even if it were so, the developer would get most of the enhanced tax revenue since he is asking for 75 percent of the incremental taxes for a 20-year period.
I, and I believe the vast majority of Morgan County residents, resolutely urge the Morgan County Council to soundly disapprove this audacious request.
~ John Triplett,