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Taxpayer association calls on Wasatch schools to cut $5M

Published: Wednesday, July 18 2012 2:46 p.m. MDT

HEBER CITY — The Wasatch Taxpayers Association is calling on the Wasatch School District to cut $5 million in property tax revenue from its 2013 budget.

In a prepared statement, the association calls for increased fiscal responsibility and cites figures showing that property tax increases have outpaced student enrollment growth. The group also takes issue with increased administrative costs in the district.

"As the WTPA, we are eager to work with the Wasatch School District to remedy this oversight in being fiscally responsible to the patrons of the district they serve," the statement reads.

The association alleges that the school district has violated state code by accumulating approximately $9 million in unassigned reserve funds and failing to make public the most recent budget for an appropriate amount of time prior to approval.

Wasatch School District Superintendent Terry Shoemaker said the board of education was aware of the concerns that the budget had not been public and scheduled a budget hearing for Thursday. He said members of the board will hear public comment during that meeting but he does not believe the board will reduce the budget.

"Because we're a growing district we're going to have increased expenditures," he said.

Shoemaker said there is a correlation between student growth and expenditures but it is not a direct correlation. A larger student body, he said, requires the district to add teachers, administrators, classroom space and other resources.

In regards to the district's reserve funds, he said Wasatch, like many school districts, has been careful to budget conservatively during the economic recession to have sufficient money on hand.

"We've been very fiscally conservative," he said. "In my mind, over the last four years we've been in a rainy day."

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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