A school board-authorized 2-mill property tax levy, touted during the 1990 Legislature as a means for generating more than $20 million in local funding for education, actually put only half that amount from local sources into school coffers.

In all, 23 of the state's 40 districts levied part or all of the 2 mills, generating a total of $11,021,890, according to figures compiled by the legislative analyst's office. The state had guaranteed a $20-per-student return on the mills and 19 of the districts that passed the levies were eligible for the guarantee. The state contribution, $5,195,790, brought the total to $16,217,680.The amount of new money that was added to the educational process actually was less then the $11 million, since all but seven of the districts reduced taxes in other categories to offset the 2-mill levies. The seven were Garfield, Grand, Kane, North Sanpete, San Juan, Rich and Wayne.

In essence, the districts gained the state money that was guaranteed without really increasing local tax revenues.

The money was to be spent to alleviate class loads. Some of the districts that passed the levies are using the income to hire additional teachers.

The state does not have a complete report from the districts outlining their intentions for using the money, said Jim Wilson of the analyst's office.

"We hope to get the details during this session, but we don't have particulars yet."

Wilson said two districts sent letters asking for exemptions from using the money for class size reduction, as the law allowed. No criteria were set to define "too large classes," he said, so districts only had to declare that they didn't have a class size problem to qualify for an exemption.

One of the districts asking for an exemption was Alpine, which has classes among the largest in the state.

With an additional 9,000 school students on rolls that were underestimated last year, the money may have been absorbed in just staying even with the demand, said Deputy State Superintendent Scott W. Bean. The actual effect on class sizes was probably minimal.

Legislators reluctantly passed the 2-mill option in the last days of the session to pacify teachers' demands for funding to reduce class sizes. Estimates then were that districts could raise up to $23 million from local taxpayers, with the state chipping in up to $6 million.

Some district boards hesitated, however, to add property taxes without voter approval. The legislation included a provision that taxpayers could override the board decisions and petition for an election based on signatures of 10-15 percent of voters in the last election, depending on the size of the district.

Grand and Tooele boards were, in fact, challenged when they passed the leeways and Tooele voters turned down the levy in the November election. Grand's appeal to taxpayers passed.

Granite, Nebo and Weber boards decided to go to voters before attempting to pass a leeway. Granite's election passed by less than 200 votes and Nebo and Weber failed to get voter approval.


(Additional information)

Board leeway estimates 1990-01

1990-91 board Local levy Local-state

District leeway tax rate proceeds State funds total

Alpine 0.000400 $846,189 $1,010,674 $1,856,863

Box Elder 0.000300 392,454 5,107 397,561

Cache 0.000400 288,997 294,200 583,197

Davis 0.000400 1,393,040 1,216,360 2,609,400

Garfield 0.000400 57,504 25,044 82,548

Grand 0.000400 102,137 0 102,137

Granite 0.000400 2,740,900 1,020,300 3,761,200

Iron 0.000400 259,737 10,440 270,177

Jordan 0.000400 2,064,006 1,007,711 3,071,717

Kane 0.000400 74,983 17,180 92,163

Logan 0.000400 209,771 60,008 269,779

Morgan 0.000400 69,427 16,475 85,902

N. Sanpete 0.000400 68,967 50,440 119,407

Ogden 0.000400 523,293 89,139 612,432

Piute 0.000400 17,450 16,497 33,947

Provo 0.000256 313,075 140,089 453,164

Rich 0.000400 61,768 0 61,768

Salt Lake 0.000200 1,146,874 0 1,146,874

San Juan 0.000200 130,716 0 130,716

Sevier 0.000400 171,367 84,360 255,736

S. Sanpete 0.000400 57,073 90,638 147,711

Tintic 0.000400 10,055 15,919 25,974

Wayne 0.000400 22,098 25,209 47,307

Total 0.008556 $11,021,890 $5,195,790 $16,217,680