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Salt Lake City School Board considering property tax increase

Published: Friday, May 17 2013 11:29 a.m. MDT

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SALT LAKE CITY — With the bulk of new state school funding absorbed by growing retirement costs, the Salt Lake City School Board is considering a property tax increase that would cost homeowners an additional $12.65 per year on a $100,000 home.

District business administrator Janet Roberts presented the proposal to members of the board during its meeting last week. The tax increase would raise $3.6 million for the district, which would be used in part to offset $450,000 in lost federal funding. It also would provide $275,000 for a cost-of-living salary increase for teachers, according to district documents.

Since 2009, the Salt Lake City School District has faced $26 million in cuts, district spokesman Jason Olsen said. This year, federal budget cuts known as sequestration and increased costs have the district facing a $3.6 million shortfall.

During the most recent legislative session, lawmakers approved a 2 percent increase to the weighted pupil unit, which is used in calculating per-pupil funding. But Olsen said retirement costs have increased by 1.7 percent, which requires almost all of the new state dollars.

The board passed a tax increase in 2011, Olsen said, which raised $1.7 million for transportation and busing costs.

Salt Lake City is not the only school district in the state to feel the pinch of federal budget cuts. Ogden School District has recently announced staffing cuts to its library and reading intervention programs, as well as the closing of community swimming pools and a merger of its adult education program with the Weber School District in an effort to close a $2.7 million budget deficit.

The Ogden School District is currently holding community meetings to gauge public interest in a tax increase to reopen the pools.

Alpine School District's board will also vote next month on whether to hold a truth in taxation hearing on the subject of potential tax increases, according to district spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley.

The Salt Lake City School Board is expected to review the proposal during its scheduled study session next week before holding a budget hearing June 4.

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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