A bill essentially requiring a property tax hike in Salt Lake County school districts to help pay for buildings in the new west-side Jordan District passed the Senate 19-9 Wednesday and was sent to the House for debate.

SB48 was substituted a third time to clarify that the $28.7 million it seeks to double state aid for school buildings in 25 districts indeed requires school districts to reduce property taxes by the amount they receive. But those districts can take tax rates right back up if they have a special hearing first. It also clarifies that school districts paying off debt don't necessarily have to hold a hearing if they want to keep their tax rates as-is.

There was no change to the controversial provision requiring Salt Lake County school districts — Granite, Murray, Jordan-east, Jordan-west and Salt Lake City — to pool part of their property tax revenues to send $12 million to the growing Jordan-west, which lost more than half its tax base when the east-side seceded last November. Those contributing school districts — Salt Lake District could lose $6 million — likely would have to raise property taxes to recoup the loss.

Supporters say building equalization for tax-poor districts is an issue long overdue, brought to the fore by the Jordan District split. Sen. Carlene Walker, who carried the law paving the way for the split last session, said she someday would like to see statewide property tax equalization.

'I think it's the fair thing to do," said Walker, R-Cottonwood Heights, adding the east-district would lose money in the proposal.

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