Weber School Board

The Weber School Board voted Wednesday, Aug. 9, to adopt a local tax levy increase. 

OGDEN — Weber School District residents beware: you are probably going to see a tax increase.

The Weber School Board voted Wednesday night to adopt the board local levy of 0.001084, one higher than the 2019 certified board levy of 0.000931. Because the proposed levy is higher than the certified one, the school board had to vote on it.

The board unanimously voted to approve the tax increase. Board members Mitzi Kawaguchi and Bruce Jardine were not present.

The increase in the board local levy will end up increasing the final tax rate of the Weber School District certified levies, including the general obligation bond and debt service rate, from 0.004418 to 0.004571.

The school district has said it expects to collect about $1.6 million in taxes. The money will be used to operate the two elementary schools the school district is currently building in Farr West and Pleasant View.

Dean Oborn, Weber School Board vice president, said the school board has been transparent about needing to increase the board local levy in order to successfully staff and operate the schools.

“None of us want to raise taxes. The taxes we are asking for are only to open those two schools,” Oborn said. “We as a school board have been as frugal and careful with your tax money as we can possibly be. We don’t raise taxes easily and I think we’ve proved it.”

This year the average property value in Weber School District increased to $280,000, making the tax certified tax rate drop from 0.004730 to 0.004418. By keeping the tax rate as last year, homeowners would’ve now end up paying about $680.37.

Instead, homeowner will now pay an average of $703.94 on homes valued at $280,000.

Carlena Coe has been living in her house for 49 years. She told the school board she is on a fixed income and that this tax rate will have an impact on her finances.

“We need a head tax,” Coe said. “We are on a fixed income and, when our taxes go up, that puts a dent on something else we need to do, maybe improving our property.”

Willard Cragun, Roy City former mayor, also asked the school district to be frugal when building the new schools.

“If the money is needed, I can understand that. I’ve been in the business,” Cragun said. “I’m going to ask you to be reasonable on what you are doing — I don’t think we need to build monuments … to educate children in.”

Before the final vote, board member Janis Christiansen told the public that there was a need for school spaces in the school district, and that this tax increase will help alleviate the overcrowding of some of the schools.

After the hearing, Christiansen talked to some constituents outside of the building. She was visibly upset.

“We are a district and we are all bound to educate the kids in our district, whether there are ours or not,” Christiansen said. “They still will contribute to the community good or bad, depending on their education.”

Contact education reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán at smartinezbeltran@standard.net or 801-625-4274. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/STANDARDEXSergio.

(1) comment

Concerned

On 13 June, 2018 the Weber School District Board members unanimously passed their 2018/2019 proposed budget and this reported budget included a 4% Employee Base Salary Increase that totaled $4,552,646 and a one time Employee Bonus ($500 Licensed; $350 Classified) that totaled $1,589,486 as top priority expenditures. It was claimed during this meeting, “Revenue projections cover the planned expenses, while maintaining a comfortable balance for contingencies that may happen.”
 
Why now on 8 August, 2018, did the Weber School District Board need to impose an additional tax rate increased on its property tax payers? Many addressed the board and not a single person stood in support of the tax rate increase. One person even asked the board to investigate some other just recently and already approved state level resources during his presentation in lieu of this tax rate increase. The Truth-in-Taxation hearing was a complete waste of time. It should have been called “ The Almighty School Board Has Spoken Again, We've Already Decided To Increasing Your Taxes Announcement” The Weber School District Board members simply ignored the request to investigate another revenue source and instead voted and passed the tax rate increase, “it was unanimously approved, as well.” I suspect the board's decision to approve the tax rate increase was made well before the June 2018 Budget meeting or for that matter, well before the 8 August, 2018 Truth-in-Taxation hearing.
 
During this meeting it was claimed that although property values had increased in 2018, the Weber School District itself would receive less revenue. As I think ALL of us know, our property values were deemed higher for 2018 than of 2017 and the end result is all taxing entities will get more revenues than what was paid in 2017 (Weber County Property Owner's take a good look at your 2018 Tax Notice). Weber School District Board members, you need to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. You can not simply compare a “set property market value of $280,000” from 2017 and 2018, as doing this is flawed...a property market value of $280,000 in 2017 would have a much higher value in 2018 and thus the tax payer would have a larger tax obligation then of the previous year. Let's look at the Weber County Property Tax notices “for the same property” and compare its 2017 and 2018 tax rates (this would be comparing apples to apples) and you could easily see that property owner is already paying more to the school district because of the 2018 market value increase. Even with this increase in revenue for 2018, the district still claimed it needed an additional $1,680,358 to fund the operational costs of these two new schools.
 
My question to the board is; why during the June 2018's meeting, after giving a 4% employee base salary increase, did you unanimously approve giving a one time bonus to your employees that totaled $1,589,486 (Only $90,872 shy of what would be needed for operational funding of these two new schools) and when doing so, claim to have a comfortable balance for contingencies that may happen, but then during the 8 August, 2018 meeting, claim, if the Weber School District did not get and approve the $1,680,358 tax rate increase, these new schools would not open?
 
The Weber School District Board's repeated claim of “transparency” seems to be very muddy and cloudy to me. Please remember, the Weber School District Board budgeted and approved a 4% employee pay raise. The Weber School District Board should not have eagerly approved paying any employee bonus until after these new schools were operationally funded. If deemed necessary to pay bonuses, bonuses should only be given when there is extra disposable money on hand to pay for these expenditures. Evidently the Weber School District has extra money at its disposal and it is again, without hesitation or reserve, going to pulled that extra money directly from the taxpayer's pockets.
 
A wise person told me “follow the money and only then will you really understand what is being covered up”...maybe its time to take a hard, deep look at the Weber School District's repeated uncontrolled spending habits instead of just an doing a routine audit.

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