The Utah Taxpayers Association members are divided on whether to support or oppose property tax increases for education proposed in nine of the state's 40 school districts.
Only in Sevier District is there a clear opinion from UTA members, and 75 percent in that district urged support for a two-mill increase, said UTA director Howard Stephenson.Others districts seeking tax increases in addition to Sevier are Du-chesne, Grand, Granite, Murray, Nebo, Tooele, Uintah and Weber. The districts have put the levy on local ballots although the 1990 Legislature gave local school boards authority to impose two mills without an election. Granite, Nebo, Sevier, Tooele, Uintah and Weber would get additional money from the state if their mill levies pass because their assessed valuation does not produce the minimum $20 per student assured by the Legislature.
Most of the districts chose to go the election route to avoid conflict with taxpayers. In Tooele and Grand districts, boards voted to pass the leeway but ran into petition drives by taxpayers to put the issue on the ballot. The taxpayer group had asked districts to allow voters to decide the question of a tax increase.
Money raised by the levy is to be earmarked for class size reduction, according to the Legislature.
The association has withheld opposition to the proposed tax increases partly because district are using the general election for balloting, instead of holding special elections, Stephenson said.
The greatest opposition is in Nebo District, where 60 percent of those surveyed said they do not want the additional tax.
In Granite District, 53 percent oppose the levy, many because they feel the district "jumped the gun" by hiring additional teachers this year to address class sizes. The Granite board shifted money from other accounts to make the class size reduction possible, but that money must be returned to those accounts next year.
The two-mill increase would amount to approximately $24 on a $100,000 home in additional taxes; $32 on a locally assessed business; and $40 for every $100,000 of utility or personal property.