Granite School Board members are unhappy about tentative proposals by Murray City to annex property that could erode the school district's tax base. Granite would ask the state Legislature to combine it with Murray's school district rather than lose the revenues.
Murray has a history of annexing commercial property while bypassing adjacent residential areas, skimming the tax cream while leaving the education of students to Granite District, said board member Lynn D. Davidson."If Murray aggressively annexes commercial properties, Granite should look closely and approach the Legislature and ask for consolidation of Granite and Murray districts," he said.
At issue is a study by Murray of two proposals to annex property in the general area bounded by 39th and 57th South, I-215 and the Jordan River. The city will hold a hearing on the matter Oct. 11, 7 p.m., in Hillcrest Junior High School, 126 E. 53rd South.
The Granite board directed Superintendent Loren G. Burton to meet with Murray School District officials to discuss school issues prior to that hearing.
One of the proposals being considered by Murray involves land on which the Estes Corp. of Tucson, Ariz., wants to develop a commercial center. Tax revenues from that center would then go to the city and its school district. The development company asked Salt Lake County for permission to pursue the project and was turned down. It then asked Murray to consider annexation so it could continue its quest, Davidson said.
A second proposal would annex a 3.9-square-mile tract with 6,500 houses and 16,000 people. Granite District has four schools - Taylorsville High School, Eisenhower Junior High School, Plymouth and Fremont elementary schools - within the proposed boundary.
If the Estes development went up as planned, it would be directly across the street from the high school, a juxtaposition that the Granite board does not particularly relish.
Granite shares taxing power with several municipalities within the county, but only Murray has its own school district. Which district's schools students in the proposed annexation area would attend has not been discussed.
Murray earlier annexed commercial property in the area of the K mart store at Ninth East and 45th South while leaving residential areas in the Granite District, he said. Commercial property raises more tax revenue than comparable residential property.
The controversy comes at a time when consolidation of all four of Salt Lake County's school districts is being discussed. At a Murray District meeting Tuesday night, a consultant company said such a consolidation would cost more than it would save.
Murray, with 6,300 students, would fight an attempt by Granite to absorb the smaller district, said Murray Superintendent Ron Stephens. He said the district has not taken a formal position on the annexation proposals, although it has cooperated in studies regarding the issue.
Stephens said it doesn't seem likely Murray would be interested in annexation of property north of 53rd South (the residential area). There is more interest in the area abutting on 53rd to the south (the area targeted for commercial development).
About 650 students reside in that area and now attend Granite schools.