PROVO — The Provo Board of Education will vote Tuesday on a budget for the 2008-09 school year that includes a tax increase.

The total budget for the 2007-08 school year was $130 million. The budget for the upcoming school year is $115 million due to fewer construction projects, which are being completed, according to budget officials.

Provo district business administrator Kerry Smith is predicting a tax rate of .006460 for the upcoming fiscal year. That figure will be finalized after the county establishes the assessed values of property later this month.

The district is scheduling a Truth and Taxation hearing for Aug. 12, during which the public can comment on the proposed tax increase, which is $168 for the owner of a $250,000 home.

The proposed tax increase can be broken down into four categories:

• Capital improvement projects and seismic issues: The district aims to spend annually $2 million on school building repairs or replacements and $500,000 on upgrades to bring the buildings to seismic standard. Together, that figure means $65 for the average homeowner.

• Charter schools: An unfunded legislative mandate is requiring all school districts statewide to dish out more money for each charter student living within the district boundaries. Provo has 900 charter students and estimates paying approximately $200,000 for them this school year. That means $9 per homeowner.

Board member Sue Curtis said, "We're surprised at how many (charter) kids live in our area code. That was a bit of a blow."

• Bond debt: In June 2006 voters approved Provo District to borrow $35 million in bond revenue for capital projects. The district is in its last of three years of spending that funding. For taxpayers, that means $39 per homeowner.

The district is creating two new elementary schools with bond money. Lakeview Elementary will cost $12.7 million, while Timpanogos Elementary is $12.6 million.

"It's a very long process of getting the money, building the buildings and acquiring the land — but we will reap the rewards later this year as Lakeview opens in August and Timpanogos in October," said Provo Superintendent Randall J. Merrill.

• Voted leeway: Also in the June 2006 election, a voted leeway was OK'd with a total of $1.9 million for teacher compensation. For the average homeowner, that is $55.

The total teacher compensation increase for Provo District will be $2.5 million for this school year. The average teacher will receive a 15 percent increase, which includes health insurance and other benefits. The 15 percent increase also includes the $1,700 legislative salary increase.

Last year, the district reduced property tax rates by 15 percent to make up for increases in the assessed value of property. The increase for capital improvements, seismic issues and charter students is a 9 percent hike over last year's property tax rate.

Smith says the budget's expenditures will be balanced with the district's revenue.

The district also gets per-pupil funding from the state. For the fiscal year 2009, the weighted pupil unit is $2,577, which is a 2.5 percent increase over the previous year. Growth from the WPU has doubled in the past 20 years, according to district budget officials.

Enrollment in Provo District is around 12,500. The district has about 700 special education students; school districts receive slightly more funding for these students. Provo District will receive approximately $32 million from the state this year in WPU.

The board intends to vote on its budget for the 2008-09 school year at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the district office, 280 W. 940 North, Provo.


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