Weber, Ogden school districts propose tax hikes to bolster teacher pay
OGDEN — Officials in the Ogden and Weber school districts are weighing property tax hikes for the 2022-2023 school year, in part to bolster the pay of teachers.
In the Weber School District, the increase, if ultimately approved, would bolster property tax revenue in four areas controlled by local officials by around 13.7%, from $70.15 million to $79.76 million, according to figures from the Weber County Clerk/Auditor’s office. In the smaller Ogden School District, the increase would boost tax funding in four areas by 13.3%, from $38.91 million to $44.07 million. The state controls the tax rate in two other areas.
“Our greatest need is recruiting and retaining teachers and staff,” Robert Peterson, director of business administration for the Weber School District, told school officials during a meeting in June on the budget. “We have a very hot labor market, and a world-class education for children is only possible with great teachers and staff.”
In the Weber School District, the hike would boost taxes on a home worth $526,000, the median value, from $1,073.59 to $1,206.67, up $133.08. In Ogden, the proposed increase would raise taxes on a home worth $410,000, the median value, from $1,125.92 to $1,264.60, up $138.68 a year, according to figures provided by the county clerk/auditor’s office.
Peterson said Monday that part of the proposed Weber School District tax increase would also be used to increase funding to maintain the 60 or so district schools and other buildings. The figure has hovered at $4.5 million a year for around 10 years and would rise by $2.5 million to around $7 million in the new spending plan, focus of a hearing last month.
Figures from the state of Utah, reported on by the Standard-Examiner last week, indicate proposed hikes in the two school districts would generate much more new revenue. But Peterson said the state also factors funding going for bond payments in making its tax hike calculations, even though that total hasn’t shifted from the prior year.
Either way, both districts are weighing property tax hikes and they’ll be the focus of truth-in-taxation hearings in August before school board officials take final action. Weber School District officials on June 8 preliminarily approved the 2022-2023 budget, including the tax hike, while Ogden School District officials are to give the 2022-2023 spending plan preliminary consideration at a meeting on Thursday, ahead of the formal tax hearings.
Officials in the North View Fire District, the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and the cities of Harrisville, North Ogden, Ogden, Riverdale, Roy and South Ogden are also considering tax hikes this year.
As in the Weber School District, Ogden School District spokesperson Jer Bates said boosting pay for teachers figures in the proposed spending plan for Ogden schools. The last time Ogden school officials approved a tax hike was in 2017 while the last increase approved by Weber school officials came in 2018.
“In order to attract and keep the best educators, we recognize that our compensation must remain competitive with surrounding employers and account for cost of living increases,” Bates said in a message to the Standard-Examiner. More specifically, the cost-of-living adjustment for workers would go from 4.5% to 5.5% in the proposed budget, longevity incentives would be augmented and activity stipends for administrators would be made “more competitive.”
Peterson said Weber School District teachers get the lowest starting pay compared to seven other district peers — the Canyons, Logan, Salt Lake, Ogden, Davis, Cache and Box Elder school systems — figuring in the tax hike proposal. The beginning salary for Weber School District teachers in the 2021-2022 school year was $46,000 compared to $49,475 in the Ogden School District and $50,741 in the Canyons School District, the highest figure of the eight systems evaluated, according to data provide by the Weber School District.
Peterson also noted an audit by the Utah Legislative Auditor General that found that Ogden School District spent “significantly less” per pupil than other districts with similar enrollments.
The truth-in-taxation hearing in the Weber School District is scheduled for Aug. 3 starting at 7 p.m. at district headquarters at 5320 Adams Avenue Parkway in Washington Terrace. The hearing in the Ogden School District is set for Aug. 18 starting at 7 p.m. at district headquarters at 1950 Monroe Blvd. in Ogden.