By Myrna Trauntvein
A Juab School District Truth-In-Taxation Public Hearing was held on Wednesday, August 16 and those in attendance learned that the total tax rate is actually decreasing.
Thirty members of the community and school district, including some educators, attended the public hearing. Four of them had questions and comments.
“The total tax rate for Juab School District is decreasing,” said Darin Clark, Juab School District Business Administrator.
He was asked, he said,”If the rate is decreasing, why are taxpayers being notified of a tax increase?”
The simplified answer is that, when the District collects more total tax revenue than it did in the previous year, it is defined a tax increase by law.
The revenues will be used for the attraction and retention of quality educators.
“In a recent study by the Utah School Board’s Association, Juab School District ranked 28th out of the 36 districts responding in beginning teacher pay,” said Clark. “Many Wasatch Front districts have increased starting teacher salaries to $40,00 or more.”
Juab’s starting pay is $35,979.
“Juab School District competes with these districts for teachers and, with the teacher shortage, is at a serious disadvantage when it comes to attracting quality educators,” Clark said. “Recently, the district has had teaching positions remain open for multiple months with none or just one or two applicants.
Total tax revenue collected by the District follows a simple formula: Total Tax Revenue = Total Assessed Property Value x Total Tax Levy.
“Yes, the total levy is decreasing,” said Clark. “However, the total assessed property value in the district has risen, thus generating an increase in tax revenue.”
He said that it should be noted that the Juab Charter School levy is not a district levy but is collected for local charter schools by law.
The prior year rates and proposed rates for this year are as follows.
The Basic School Levy in 2016 was .001675. In the coming year, 2017, will be .001568.
Other Levies are: Voted Leeway, 2016, .000400, 2017, .000400; Capital Outlay, 2016, .002541, 2017, .002500; Charter School Levy, 2016, .000020; Board Local Levy, 2016, .002006, 2017, .002500; Debt Service Levy, 2016, .001597, 2017 .001191.
Sub-total of the Other Levies, 2016, .006544, 2017, .006611; Total All Levies, 2016, .008219, 2017, .008179.
Property Tax Formula: Assessed Value X Rate = Tax Liability. Tax on a $100,000 taxable value home: 2016, $100,000 X .008159 = $821.90; 2017, $100,000 X .008159 = $815.90. In 2017, if the value increased to $110,000, $110,000 X .008159 = $897.49.
The effect on the individual taxpayer depends on what happens with the re-assesment of property in the county.
Colby Park is doing a great job as the county assessor, said Dale Whitlock, board member. Values in the county had not been changed for awhile and the re-assessment was overdue.
“Many properties in Juab County were re-assessed last year and the taxable value for those properties will likely not change this year,” said Clark. “If the assessed value does not change or if the value decreases, the total property taxes (assessed by the district) will decrease. Conversely, if the assessed property value increases, the taxes will likely increase.”
According to Deseret News, he said, since 2008, almost 60 percent of Utah teachers have left the profession. This number reaches as high as 73 percent for younger teachers under the age of 25. Since 2013, Juab School District has lost 33 teachers.
At the same time fewer students are being attracted to the teaching profession. According to the Learning Policy Institute and Huffington Post, American colleges have reported a 35 percent decrease in enrollment in teacher education programs.
“This trend has been true in the state of Utah as well. Across the country, this study also indicated that more than 8 percent of teachers in the United States are leaving the profession annually,” Clark said.
“The second priority is to maintain smaller class size,” he said.
Compounded with the teacher shortage crisis, Utah is experiencing booming population growth. Clark said that Juab is growing and is expected to be one of the fastest growing counties in the nation in the future.
According to University of Utah Policy Center, Juab County is projecting 171 percent increase in population over the next 50 years. Juab is third only to Utah and Washington Counties in projected growth.
“We can already feel this trend as the district has grown by over 300 students in the past two years,” said Clark. “We are now over 2,500 students.” In 2012, JSD enrollment was 2,287 and in 2016 enrollment was 2,519.
The state of Utah increases by almost 10,000 new students per year.
Over the past three years, the district has added an additional 6.5 FTEs (full time employees) to our schools.
The district target average class size is 25. The average district class size is 26.9, Juab High is at 30 and Mona Elementary is the low at 24.8.
“Additional revenue will help maintain lower class sizes,” he said.
Lastly, and perhaps the most important justification of all, is this infusion to help attract, hire, and retain great teachers to Juab School District.
Clark said that, hopefully this action will add a spark of optimism that encourages young people especially from Juab to become teachers in the future and return home.
“This new revenue helps to secure our community’s ongoing dedicated commitment to education they have demonstrated over the years,” he said. “We all know through our own personal experiences as well as through research the positive impact a teacher can have on our children. This additional revenue will ensure that Juab School District will continue to be a destination district for the best educators in the state.”;