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MURRAY DISTRICT WON'T LOWER REVENUE DESPITE INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES

The Utah Taxpayers Association on Wednesday urged the Murray School District to lower its revenues in the wake of a Legislative decision that changes the way property taxes are figured, but district board members refused, citing a need to maintain school buildings.

The district board approved the $22.8 million 1991-92 budget Wednesday night.Taxpayer association representative Howard Headlee told the Murray District Board that its failure to lower taxes at a time when district taxpayers will be writing larger property tax checks "appears opportunistic."

Assessed valuations are expected to increase more than 16 percent as a result of the legislative action, which is known as the AMAX decision.

After AMAX Corp. sued over the state's method of taxing large companies, the Legislature lowered the valuations on large corporations and raised valuations on small businesses and residences.

As a result, school districts can lower or keep tax rates static, but homeowners will still pay more to support the schools. The Utah Taxpayers Association has charged that 15 Utah school districts have capitalized on the Legislature's resolution of the AMAX case.

"This is the only year you can leave the tax rate at the same level and actually reap an increase," Headlee said. "(This) will at least double the impact of AMAX . . . We don't think you are being flagrant. But it appears opportunistic."

Board president Laura Baker noted that the district is not constructing new buildings, but needs to maintain existing buildings. "We've been very conservative for years in our taxing levies," she said.

And board member Bruce Cutler said that the best way to keep the district out of debt is to spend money on maintenance.

The district will hold a hearing Aug. 6 on the tax matter.