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Tax abatements may make judgment levy necessary

Article Date: 
23 May, 2014 (All day)

While new taxable property is on the increase in Morgan County—which would benefit Morgan County School District finances—so are requests from large tax payers to adjust taxes downward—which could cause a one-year increase on property taxes.
With about 160 new homes constructed in the county in the past, year, as well as a couple of additional businesses, the county saw an increase of $17 million in new taxable value added to tax rolls, said Morgan County Business Manager D’Lynn Poll.  As the largest taxing entity  in the county, the school district is set to see a corresponding revenue increase from the growth.
On the other hand, three “big tax payers” successfully appealed to have a portion of their taxes abated, meaning they collectively get to recoup $76,000 this year, Poll said.
Because the school board has already spent this money, the district plans to increase tax rates for one year in an effort to recoup the $76,000 through a judgment levy. The taxpayers successful at recouping their back taxes are also owed interest.
Poll said the amount took her by surprise.
“I was never informed,” Poll said.
However, school board member Mark Farmer said the board needs to be in close communication with the county so they are planning financially for contested assessments, pending abatements and assessments in litigation.
“That is a disaster for us; $76,000 is a teacher and a half,” Board President Bruce Galbraith said.
“We need to put some money aside for this,” board member Ken Durrant said.  “We should know and be notified.”
During the new business administrator portion of the school board agenda, Poll said the last time the district had to do a judgment levy was about nine years ago when Holcim and Snowbasin, both heavy hitters in Morgan’s property tax scene, won their appeals.  That year, the district had to pay about $150,000 back.  
Poll said residents can expect a judgment levy hearing, perhaps at the same time as the truth in taxation hearing, on a future school board agenda.