Davis County Tax Meeting

First, a reminder that the County’s Truth in Taxation hearing is today:

Time: 6 PM
Place: Farmington Junior High – 150 S 200 W, Farmington

DCW has the background information on the tax increase (and budget increase) along with a interesting post on a New York county’s attitude and prioritization process used to reduce taxes. I particularly like the bit about unfunded mandates.

Another area of prioritization that would be worth a look at is the matching funds stuff our ‘conservative’ legislature baits local taxing entities with (see Duplicitous Tax Policy). These tempting budget increases often prove too good not to pass up for the target which can, conveniently, push off blame to the legislature (and visa-versa) .

The Davis School Board held it’s hearing for their portion of the tax increase yesterday. The Board decided to hold making a decision until August 21 (I’m quite sure we all know what the decision will be). The Standard Examiner has a decent wrap-up:

The school board meeting was packed with more than 100 residents wanting answers to why their property taxes are increasing and what the school district is doing with the money it receives.

[Bountiful City Manager, Tom Hardy:] The south end would pay more than the north end of the county to the school district, the county, mosquito abatement and the Davis County Library, he said, which was received with several loud boos from the audience.

Where they booing him or the tax hike? My impression is that they were booing him – his argument of it’s unfair to the south end isn’t very good, when the north end is also facing a tax increase.

I understand the south has had the home revaluations (thus seeing a bigger, monetary, increase than the north), but I don’t think it is wise to run with a ‘this is unfair to me’ arguement when the rest of the county is also being hit and is present at the meeting (it smacks of an “it’s all about me” complaint). I think he would’ve been better received if he focused on how the tax harmed those in his community (low incomes, young families, those on fixed incomes). Everyone in the county can relate to those arguments, as exemplified by Mrs. Winters:

Joyce Winters of Kaysville, who is retired and a former educator, said she and her husband cannot afford the increase the school district is asking for.

“Where is the money going to come from?” Winters said.

She also received applause when she said it was time for Utahns to consider what California residents did when they passed Proposition 13.

At times it got a loud as those in the meeting disagreed with school board members.

The article notes the “…school district is proposing an overall budget of $557 million, which is the largest budget in its history..” and discusses where the money is going to be purportedly spent. Unfortunately the article (or hearing attendies) didn’t mention or ask how much would go to the administration or what percentage of the budget is spent on the administration rather than the classroom.

Finally, one thing that Hardy mentioned (“city expects 30 percent increase from the reappraisals, but it is all coming from homeowners”) is interesting to note. The increase in property values seems to be a boon to the cities where all properties were evaluated. While the county must maintain the same monetary income from property taxes, cities must not – ie while the tax rate drops county wide, the city with the higher home valuations reaps a funding increase. [This seems to be where the 30% would come from – am I correct here, or is Hardy getting the increase by some other effect?]

AFTERTHOUGHT: Prop 13 was raised – I would support that.
Here’s another question to mull:  Is it also worth considering taking advantage of the new state law allowing for smaller school districts?  Should the Davis District be more localized – something like having a district for the Woods Cross, Bountiful, Viewmont, and Davis HS areas and another  for Layton, Northridge, Syracuse, and Clearfield HS areas? (if there was a split, where would the split be and into how many districts?)

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