Numbers dotting the pages of Shauna Farnsworth's property tax statement seem to loom larger each year to the Pleasant Grove resident.
"Every time I open this I want to scream," Farnsworth said. "It's not that it's a whole bunch, it's only $100 or so, but when you put on the bond, or whatever it is they voted on, then it gets pretty high."A frustrated Farnsworth joined several other residents on Tuesday who voiced concern about increased taxes and school registration fees in the Alpine School District.
A 7 p.m. hearing on a voter-approved $66.9 million revenue package was held at school board headquarters.
"We could make a lot of explanations," said Superintendent Steven C. Baugh. "We know that you dig deeply. It's a heck of a hit, and we don't take it lightly. But it is needed for schools and kids, we believe."
Board members have unanimously adopted a $233 million budget for 1998-99, an 11.2 percent increase over the previous year. The increase is due in part to the inclusion of monies from the $60 million general-obligation bond issuance and $6.9 million leeway.
James Hansen, budget director, said the bonds will be taken to the market for sale Sept. 22. Financial advisers estimate a 4.5 percent interest rate for the 16-year payback plan.
Hansen said the budget would not have to be reworked if the interest rates change in the next 13 days. "We've budgeted for what we need," he said.
Bond and leeway funds will be used to build schools, renovate existing buildings, buy land, increase technology access, improve libraries, open schools and reduce class sizes.
District officials are bracing for an additional 7,000 students who are anticipated to enroll in the 45,000-student district in the next four years.
Passage of both the bond and leeway increased taxes this year on property valued at $100,000 by $30.50, graduating incrementally to $63.50 over a three-year period.
Alpine district officials have raised taxes for the second consecutive year. Last year's increase raised residential taxes by $26 and commercial by $47 on a $100,000 property.
The Utah Taxpayers Association acknowledges Alpine's need to bond for new schools. However, the government-watchdog group questions the timing of the leeway, which has three times the impact of the bond on taxpayers.
"The Legislature only allows us a couple of options to get money for schools," said board member Linda Campbell. "We sometimes look like the bad guy when really we are not."
The majority of the newly approved budget is for the maintenance and operation of the dis-trict's 50 schools. Some $111.4 million in this category is allocated for teachers' salaries and benefits.
Nearly all remaining expenditures in the $166.6 million fund to maintain and operate schools are dedicated to school administration, plant operation, student transportation, business services, general district administration and related support services.
Some $37.4 million of the $60 million bond total will be used this fiscal year. Another $18 million will be used for debt service to pay off previous bonds that were used to build several new schools in the district during the past six years.