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Education

Salt Lake City School Board Approves Tax Hike

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Salt Lake City residents will see an increase in their property taxes next year to help pay for area public schools. The Salt Lake City School Board approved the hike on Tuesday, saying the additional revenues will fill a gap in the statewide education budget lawmakers passed this year. 

Despite a 2 percent increase in per pupil spending by the state for the 2013-2014 school year, members of the Salt Lake City School Board say it’s not enough to pay the bills.

Amanda Thorderson was a member of the Salt Lake City School Board from 2009 to 2013. She points out that in that time; the board cut $25 million from the budget.

“As a parent I’m tired of my child being on the receiving end of spending cuts that directly affect her ability to excel in school," Thorderson says.

She says to put it in perspective her family is willing to give up one pizza night a year to make sure Salt Lake City schools are funded.

Board members say the district needs an addition $3.6 million to cover existing programs, plus required Utah State Retirement and cost of living increases. Property tax payers will shell out between 12 and 48 additional dollars annually or slightly more depending on the value of their home.

Democratic State Representative and Salt Lake City resident Joel Briscoe also spoke in favor of the tax increase. He says the state legislature is not doing its job.

“I could multiply all the statistics and we could talk about the havoc that many other decisions made by the state legislature have rendered on school district budgets," Briscoe says. "But I’m a taxpayer who wants all the kids in my neighborhood and in this city to go to quality public schools.”

State School Board member Michael Clara was the only member of the board to vote no on the tax increase. He says he doesn’t understand why there is a gap in the budget. 

“The people in my neighborhood are asking me, how did we get a shortfall when the legislature gave us more money than it did in recent history?" Clara says.

District officials say the 2 percent increase in per pupil spending only covered a portion of increased retirement costs.

Clara proposed an amendment that would give teachers a 3 percent salary increase. That way he said he would know where the additional revenue would be spent. That  motion failed. 

A truth in Taxation hearing is tentatively scheduled for August 6th.  

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