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TAXPAYERS SEEK REASONS FOR SURPLUS

Devon Sanderson played the role of Mr. Peabody at a Jordan Board of Education meeting Tuesday as residents' frustration and confusion about county property tax notices spilled into a truth-in-taxation hearing.

Just as Mr. Peabody comforted his cartoon sidekick with a confident, "Well, Sherman . . .," San-derson, the district's business administrator, spent the evening reviewing the fine print of Salt Lake County tax notices, property assessment philosophies, school finance data, legislative action and the six steps to appealing property valuations.On their way to granting themselves a $1.6 million windfall for next year, Jordan officials took turns trying to explain to an overflow crowd the intricate taxing factors that were the result of a Utah Tax Commission order to reassess property taxes.

Superintendent Ray Whit-tenburg tried, and board members Ann Forbush and Ellen Wallace shared empathetic stories about past appeals. Channel 4 reporter Mark Mesesan even asked for the microphone and took a stab at explaining the complex formula.

During the discussion, the board voted unanimously to maintain the .007262 tax rate that will allow it to use the additional $1.6 million.

The Utah Taxpayers Association encouraged the district to hold Tuesday's truth-in-taxation hearing to explain a $1.6 million surplus that occurred when the dis-trict budgeted for the 1995-96 fiscal year. At issue is money the district transferred from its debt service account to a capital outlay fund last year to pay for skyrocketing construction costs.

The district was not required by law to hold the hearing but wanted to tell the public about 40 percent to 55 percent hikes in the cost of construction projects that make the $1.6 million crucial in the district's budget.

Whittenburg carefully walked through the transfer and explained to one irritated speaker that only $9 in taxes (per $100,000 assessed on a home's value) is related to the transferred money.

"I know that, I hear what you're saying," said Tom Holdaway. "I just needed to vent."