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TAX BOOST GETS AN `F’ BUT PASSES ANYWAY

SHARE TAX BOOST GETS AN `F’ BUT PASSES ANYWAY

Residents in the Provo City School District gave the 10 percent increase in the basic tax a failing grade Tuesday night, but the school board passed it anyway.

Explaining that "there are times when being a school board member is an absolute nightmare and this is one of those times," Mossi White made the motion to approve the tax-rate increase that adds approximately $20 to $30 to the average homeowner's tax bill.It will change the amount of anticipated property tax revenue from $13,056,840 to $13,959,103, with the tax rate set at .007256.

Last year a home valued at $75,000 was assessed at $442.07. The Utah Legislature, anticipating a windfall in tax revenue from increased valuation, reduced the tax rate. That would have meant a tax bill of $279.96 on a $75,000 home. However, because of the Provo school board's action, that tax bill will jump to $299.31.

Provo homeowners said they are tired of being taxed and want entities like the school board to learn to cut expenses rather than ask for more tax money.

School district business administrator Lynn R. Smith said the school board has needed to increase taxes for the past two years but has held off because it is so unpopular.

He said the district has an emergency situation prompted by increased costs of operating the new Rock Canyon middle school ($600,000) and remodeling Farrer Junior High ($400,000).

Provo has also asked the district to pay for police service at the high schools ($50,000).

The district must also replace money lost to other districts through the state's capital equalization levy ($84,000), said Smith. "We lose money under that system but get nothing back."

Those needs total $1,134,000 that cannot be found within the district's $64 million budget for the coming school year, he said.

"There is no fat," said board president Kenneth W. Matheson. "That $64 million budget all can be justified."

Board member White said the only thing worse than raising taxes is to fail to rally around the children. "They are our future. We have the largest classes and still spend the least per student of any state in the nation. We try to stretch every dime.

"The money is needed. We need this money to do what needs to be done. I cannot vote no.'

Two board members were absent, but Matheson, White and Kenneth W. Clark were united in their support of the increase.

They also have support from the PTA board of managers, said Laura Pedersen. "Our children are worth the cost of a couple of pizzas a year."

Senior citizens vehemently opposed any more tax increases, claiming that too much is spent on frills as opposed to basics. They told the board the saturation point has been reached.

Some argued that the property owner is unfairly hit, even illegally taxed.

Others insisted the board had already made up their minds before hearing from the audience.

"Most of us paid our dues when our children were young," said one woman. "We cannot pay this highway robbery any longer, and that's what it is."