*I updated this with a couple of edits for clarification (in bold).
Background on this comes from the local pravda (Davis School Board eyes tax hike):
The Davis Board of Education is seeking public input at its Aug. 7 meeting. The board is considering voting to expand its Voted Leeway property tax to the maximum limit allowed — something that could bring about $2 in state funds for every local dollar raised.
What that means for Davis schools is if the county pulls in an increase of $1.87 million in property taxes, then an additional $3.5 million will come from state tax monies. That’s money which the board members agreed the district could not afford to lose. [since taxing agencies constantly find times when it could “afford to lose” more tax money?]
…The increase would actually boost four tax levies, the Voted Leeway, Board Leeway, Reading Achievement and Transportation, said Williams.
The Voted Leeway Levy is used for general supplies, textbooks, computer equipment and to fund the capital impact of new schools on the operating budget. If the increase is approved, it would generate $1.3 million for the district. If it is not approved, the district would lose $2.7 million, Williams said.
The Board Leeway Levy is earmarked for class-size reduction. This levy would generate $331,000 if approved. Without it, the district would lose $683,000.
If the board approves the local tax increase, it would mean homeowners would pay an additional $17 a year on a $190,000 home…
Firstly, I would dispute the use of “the district would lose…”. They won’t lose anything, the money would (should) simply be returned to it’s owner – Utah taxpayers. This tax increase also comes a year after the district was given a big municipal bond. The $230 million bond (for the Davis School District only), precluded a reduction in taxes that would have been returned to taxpayers from the payment of other bonds.
On to why this policy is duplicitous. Essentially this, ‘you raise taxes by X, and we’ll give you $2 for every dollar you collect’ scheme, seems to be a way (attempt) for politicians (legislators) and bureaucrats (school board and district) to wash their hands of responsibility for the tax increase. If citizens complain to one, it points at the other. This allows a for circular blame game with all taxing parties ducking responsibility. This also lets our purportedly ‘conservative’ legislature claim they didn’t raise taxes and oppose tax increases while, at the same time, they put out big incentives for local authorities to raise your taxes.
In my opinion, the legislature should directly allocate the money or return it to taxpayers and school districts should try to raise taxes on us by themselves. In the meantime, in my book, they don’t share responsibility, the each get 100% of it.
Davis County Watch has also picked up on this and brought up something I missed regarding government vs private budgeting.