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GROUP CALLS FOR VOTE ON SEISMIC SAFETY

Salt Lake taxpayers should get the chance to vote on whether they want to spend $107 million to earthquake-proof their schools, the Utah Taxpayers Association says.

But a group of parents thinks the Salt Lake Board of Education should go ahead and raise taxes without holding a referendum election.Both groups appeared before the school board Tuesday night, hoping to sway the board before it adopts the 1991-92 school district budget on June 18.

The proposed budget hits taxpayers with a hefty tax hike for earthquake safety. It would increase the tax rate by 7.78 percent. That would raise property taxes on an $80,000 home by $33.18.

The tax hike is how the district has proposed to pay for seismic safety in its 35 schools. Instead of bonding, the board would follow a pay-as-you-go plan that raises taxes for 20 years.

Howard Stephenson, executive director of the taxpayer watchdog group, urged the board to place the issue on the ballot.

He said the board-commissioned poll of 910 city residents, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, isn't enough.