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Utah Property Owners Face Higher School
Property Taxes

by Joe Monzon, Denver, October 2015

 

Several Utah school districts are considering property tax increases in their upcoming budgets. This comes after lawmakers passed legislation in the 2015 session to increase basic property taxes and funding for charter schools.

 

Paying for School Buildings

 

Senate Bill 97, which took effect July 1, 2015, increases Utah's basic property tax rate by $75 million. The new law sets up a state equalization fund for capital outlays to pay for new school buildings, along with maintenance and expansion of old buildings.

 

For years, Utah has had an Education Operational Equalization Program that guarantees every child in the state gets the same cash allotment for their education each year. But there was not a similar equalization fund for school buildings and other capital items until SB 97 was signed into law.

 

More Money for Charter Schools

 

Another new Utah law increases the amount of money school districts give to charter schools.
HB 119 requires districts to give 25% of their per-pupil tax revenues for each student enrolled in a charter school to the state's Charter School Local Replacement Funding Program. The state then disperses these funds proportionally to charter schools throughout the state.

 

Previous funding formulas required school districts to contribute between $150 and $289 per student attending a charter school. HB 119 raises contributions to between $150 and $1,976 depending on the amount of property tax revenue generated per student in the school district.

 

As an example of the budgetary problems that school districts across the state are facing, the Salt Lake City School District is proposing a $1.5 million property tax increase. If approved, the majority of the funds will be used to pay the full cost of local replacement funding called for by
HB 119.