Taking care of students and taxpayers at the same time

Friday , August 04, 2017 - 4:30 AM

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

The Weber School District Board of Education unanimously approved a $97 million bond initiative Wednesday. If voters approve it, this is what it will buy:

  • A new elementary school in Remuda, a northern area of Farr West ($22 million).
  • A new elementary school in Pleasant View ($22 million).
  • A 12-classroom addition at Fremont High School ($5 million).
  • Renovations at Roy Junior High School ($38 million).
  • An addition at Weber Innovation High School ($10 million).

And how much the five projects will raise taxes: $0.

That’s right. Not one penny.

  • RELATED: “Weber School District sends $97 million bond question to ballot”

In a county reeling from double-digit property tax increases, the Weber School District School Board is a model of sound fiscal management.

For years, local governments stubbornly refused to raise taxes, even as infrastructure crumbled and employees departed for jobs that paid more — especially police and firefighters. And in the end, their constituents paid.

In November, the Weber County Commission approved a 21 percent tax increase.

That followed an Ogden City Council vote to raise property taxes 31 percent.

But Roy topped them all, imposing a 38 percent property tax hike in August.

All three governments cited the need to increase pay for police and firefighters. Roy and Weber County said they also intended to spend some of the money on capital improvements.

Ogden is also considering another small property tax increase for 2018.

Against that backdrop, the Weber School District Board of Education considered three bond initiatives — one for $97 million, another for $161 million and a third for $248 million.

All three proposals started with the five basic projects in the $97 million initiative. But they added a new elementary school in Kanesville, a new junior high in West Haven, renovations to Roosevelt and Canyon View elementary schools and a rebuilt T.H. Bell Junior High School, Anna Burleson reported for the Standard-Examiner.

“Those projects that would end up on a bond list are absolutely critical,” Superintendent Jeff Stephens said at an Aug. 1 work session. “They were needed probably yesterday. When you look at options B and C, will they be needed in the future? Yes. Are they needed right now? No.”

The board agreed, and wisely so. Because anything requiring a tax increase probably faced rejection in November.

The Weber School District Board of Education found a way to invest in vital projects without making life harder for taxpayers. And for that, we’re all grateful.

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