North Sanpete School District raises tax rate

MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete School District (NSSD) school board approved an approximate 8 percent increase in the certified tax rate at its monthly meeting last Tuesday, Aug 9.

According to the published Truth in Taxation notice, the increase means the property tax the district levies on a $402,000 residence will increase from $1,040.28 to $1,140.21, or $99.93 per year. The tax on a $402,000 business property will increase from $1,891.41 to $2,073.11, which is an increase of $181.70 per year.

The increase combined with rising property values will bring in approximately 16.1 percent more revenue than the last year’s property tax rate.

Six citizens voiced various concerns during the hearing. One believed the district should forego raising the taxes at all. Others asked the district to consider trimming the proposed increase, especially considering that other taxing entities are also raising their rates, and because of the challenges people on fixed incomes have paying existing taxes.

After the hearing, board members considered the comments, but board member Shalmarie Morley summarized the board consensus, saying, “Even if we cut the increase in half this year, it would just force us into hav- ing to propose another tax increase next year.”

Property tax bills include taxes from several different entities. Homes are periodically adjusted in valuation, and as those valuations change, school districts are required to adjust their tax rates so the districts bring in about the same revenue as the previous year. In other words, as homes are worth more, the districts can lower the rate, or if home values drop, the district can increase the rate.

In deciding whether to change the tax rate, the board has to deal with increased costs and growth. Tammy Jorgensen, the district business manager, said the NSSD has the seventh-lowest total property valuation among the 41 school districts in the state. With the newly approved tax rate, the NSSD certified tax rate ranks 24th out of the 41 districts in Utah.

Taking the tax levy ranking of 24th and subtracting the valuation ranking of seventh, yield a merged ranking, representing both the tax level and valuation level, of 17th out of 41 districts, Jorgensen said.

The fact the district is operating at that merged ranking shows efficient use or resources, she said. Only a few other school districts in Utah have a lower overall ranking than North Sanpete.

“We have aging school buildings that need roofs and other major repairs, such as athletic field improvements and parking lots,” Superintendent Nan Ault said. “We are seeing large increases in main- tenance and operation costs not related to growth. It is just necessary to occasionally raise taxes rather than wait until the deficit is gigantic, which would force us into major tax increases.”

“We all pay taxes,” another board member said, “and we are very aware of other taxing entities who are also increasing tax rates. This just seems the most prudent way to meet the needs of education with the resources we have available.”

In other matters, the district worked on some policies, including a new document related to threat assessment when a student appears to pose a threat to the safety of the school.

The district will continue its emphasis on school safety and will run drills during the school year in all schools, Ault said.