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Tax Questions on the November Ballot

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Tax Questions on the November Ballot


Despite this being a municipal election year, there are still plenty of reasons to vote even for many who live outside city boundaries. In addition to the municipal elections that are taking place, there are a number of tax-related measures that have found their way onto the ballot.

Your Taxpayers Association has been monitoring these proposals all across the state. The Association is tracking 12 major issues, including a $40 million recreation center bond in Spanish Fork, a $298 million bond for Davis School District, and various “RAP” taxes. Read on to learn more.

Davis School District Bond

In July, the Davis County School Board voted to place a $298 million bond on November’s ballot. The money will be used to pay for construction of a new high school, junior high school, and two new elementary schools as well as remodels of several other district schools.

The district says student enrollment projections show that by 2018, Layton High School will use 14 portable classrooms, Viewmont High will have 19 portable classrooms and Davis High School will need eight to house their students. The proposed new high school would be built in Farmington, to help accommodate growth, according to the district. 

The district says the new junior high will be built in west Layton, but both elementary schools do not yet have precise locations as to where they will be built.

The estimated impact of the increase is $168.84 per year on an average Davis County home, valued at $240,000. Only 6 years ago, voters approved of another bond in the amount of $250 million.

Your Utah Taxpayers Association has reviewed the bond and takes a neutral position on this proposal.

Tooele School District Bond

Tooele County School District has also proposed a bond set on this year’s ballot. The bond, totaling $49 million, is proposed to address the district’s growth, out-of-date facilities and a need for updated technology.

Specifically, $33 million will be used to build two new elementary schools, $7 million to increase capacity at Tooele Jr. High, along with $4 million for a land purchase for secondary school growth. The remaining $5 million is primarily marked for technology improvement at Tooele and Grantsville High, along with Grantsville Jr. High.

In September, we went out and toured the existing facilities the district is proposing to modify. We are still evaluating the bond, but will provide you with an update very soon.

The projected tax impact on the average home valued at $170,000 will be an approximate annual increase of $18.19.

Wasatch County School District Bond

Voters in Wasatch County are also being asked to 3 approve a new bond for schools. This $62 million bond will build a new elementary school, a middle school, and completely rebuild a swimming pool to be used by both the school district and the community.

Over the past few years, Wasatch County has created some ways to accommodate enrollment growth by trying to fully use all their existing buildings, and shuffling grades associated with each level of schooling to avoid bonding for new buildings. The district claims that buildings are beyond capacity and it needs the additional schools to house new students. A third of its students at its intermediate school are currently in portable classrooms.

The bond also includes $10.5 million for a new pool, housed at Timpanogos Intermediate School. This pool center would include both a competitive pool, as well as another pool for recreation, for use by the community and school district. The new facility would be the only publicly-operated pool in the district and the county.

Citizens in the district’s boundary can expect to pay an additional $198.45 per year for the average valued home at $296,000, if the bond passes.

Your Utah Taxpayers Association has reviewed the bond and takes a neutral position on this proposal.

Park City School District Bond

Citing aging facilities and enrollment growth, the Park City School District is asking for a $56 million bond for capital projects across the district. The district would chip in another $10 million from its coffers, for a total of $66 million spent.

The proposed projects include more than $27 million for expansion at Park City High School, including a complete gymnasium remodel, $24 million to build a new school next to Ecker Hill Middle School to accommodate the 5th and 6th grades, and $12 million for athletic facility renovations in its schools.

The average homeowner owning a home valued at $639,000 is expected to pay an additional $123.24 annually if the bond passes.

The School Board will be holding a public hearing on October 20th to hear from citizens and outline its proposal.

Duchesne School District Bond

The Duchesne County School District is currently looking to place a $39 million bond for the replacement of a high school, along with additions and remodeling to another high school in the area.

Union High School in Roosevelt is marked to be replaced if the bond passes, with Duchesne High School in Duchesne receiving major renovations to some of its existing facilities and adding additional classroom space. The Duchesne High School project is the final step in a three-phase process.

The school district cites projected enrollment growth within their boundaries and deteriorating facilities as leading causes for the proposal.

We toured the two high schools in September, and are still evaluating the proposal. We’ll keep you updated when we make a decision. Stay tuned.

If approved, this would raise property taxes by $99.41 on the average home in the county, appraised at $170,000.

Spanish Fork Life Center Bond

Spanish Fork is asking its citizens to approve a $39.3 million bond to construct a “Life Center” which will include a recreation center, library and senior center all under one roof.

The bond will raise property taxes by $201.90 annually on the average home in the Utah County city, but that is only the beginning of what residents would have to pay to use the facility.

In addition to the property tax, it is expected that those who use the center will also have to pay a membership fee to use the recreational portions of the facility.

Your Taxpayers Association is opposed to this proposal and encourages voters to reject the bond.

Springville City Aquatic Center

The southern Utah County city of Springville is asking voters to approve a $12 million bond to replace its current community pool. The city is looking to build a multi-use pool, a leisure pool, splash pad, and indoor facility for other recreational activities, including a running track, weights, among others that are typical of a privately-owned gymnasium in the area.

The average home, valued at $207,695 can expect to pay an additional $60.52 annually for the bond, plus fees associated with the use of the new center.

Your Taxpayers Association is opposed to this proposal and encourages voters to reject this bond.

RAP, ZAP, RAMP Taxes

RAP taxes, often called “boutique taxes,” are sales taxes levied to provide revenue for a specific spending priority. These sales taxes have different names among government entities but are usually levied to fund similar services.

The tax, which is levied at a rate of one cent per every $10 spent, is typically used to fund city or county art programs, recreational programs, cultural events, museums and zoos.

Provo, Lehi, Centerville, and Layton are all considering these types of taxes on the November ballot.

Approval of these taxes creates a guaranteed revenue stream for specific programs, which your Taxpayers Association has long argued, is poor tax policy.

While the programs may be worthwhile, they ought to compete against other spending priorities for funding in the entity’s budget. For example, budget shortfalls may force a city to lay off essential police officers, while the RAP tax spending priorities still receive a guaranteed funding stream.

Elected officials should have the ability to decide how best to use tax funds and not be beholden to maintain funding for certain projects when essential city services are at stake.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting more in-depth articles of each of these issues as we approach Election Day. Hang tight.

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