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Letter to the Editor - Voted Levy

Article Date: 
24 May, 2013 (All day)

Dear Editor:
After attending the school administration/board presentation regarding their proposed levy for increasing property taxes, I think that they made a fine presentation.  However, I must disagree that it was entirely factual.
According to the county treasurer, they received $7.033 million from property taxes in 2012.  Education presently receives 71 percent of our property taxes.
It was also indicated that last year they received less revenue due to lowered property evaluations but failed to mention that taxes were raised more than 12 percent last year, which provided them an increase of $771,000 from the previous year.
For the past eight years the school district has averaged an increase of more than 12 percent per year.  
It was also mentioned that due to the Greenbelt, the district receives less money, but failed to mention that when property is taken out of Greenbelt they receive five years back taxes at the high rate.  Greenbelt is a state-wide program not unique to Morgan.
It is interesting that the school district always mentions that they will have to cut teachers and programs but never mentions eliminating administrative positions.  
As a suggestion, if the board eliminated two vice principal positions and eliminated paying medical benefits for board members, they would have enough money to hire four new teachers. A $10,000 increase for the new superintendent’s salary indicates that money is not so tight.
Has anyone counted the number of school buses leaving Morgan County each week for Snowbird, Snowbasin, Lagoon, etc.?  
Why does the district still have open enrollment accepting students from outside the district with no property taxes being collected for that student if finances are so bad?
Since state income tax filing is past, and realizing that our income tax money also goes toward education, you are probably paying between $3,000-$7,000 or more each year for education depending on your income.
The state provides more than $7.5 million for the Morgan school district so the district already has a sizeable budget of about $15 million.  It is the biggest business in Morgan County and has its own business administrator.
Did the school district receive any federal stimulus money in the past few years?  If so, how much and how was it spent?  I am sure that the district also receives other federal and state money for other programs.
The district teachers’ average salary including benefits in 2012 was $69,239 and the median salary is $68,812 which is comparable to the reported county median income of $76,472 when you figure in the nine-month salary versus a 12-month salary.  Administrators’ average salary was $113,384.  The new superintendent’s salary will be about $150,000.
According to House Bill 318 passed by the state legislature on May 15, the state school board announced that $105 million would be given to public schools to reduce class size, so I wonder if we are going to be hit two to three times for the same thing.
As I mentioned at the school levy presentation, the district is asking property owners to give them essentially five blank checks, one for each year, without further consent.  They did state that they would be frugal, “trust us,” but I have never given anyone a blank check for them to fill in, and at my age do not want to do so now or in the future.
~ Charles Crittenden