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Weber school officials OK tax hike; South Ogden, Harrisville reps yet to act

By Tim Vandenack - | Aug 4, 2022
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Members of the Weber school board are pictured during a public hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, on a proposed property tax hike. School officials approved the increase though many spoke against it.
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Members of the Weber school board are pictured during a public hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, on a proposed property tax hike. School officials approved the increase though many spoke against it.
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Members of the Weber school board are pictured during a public hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, on a proposed property tax hike. School officials approved the increase though many spoke against it.

WASHINGTON TERRACE -- Weber School District officials approved a tax hike for that entity while South Ogden and Harrisville officials have yet to take action on proposed increases in their locales.

Weber School District, South Ogden and Harrisville leaders held truth-in-taxation hearings this week on proposals to boost taxes, which, in the context of rising inflation, have prompted concern among many. Ten taxing entities in all across Weber County are pursuing tax hikes to boost revenue as they prepare their 2023 budgets.

After a hearing on Wednesday, Weber school officials voted 6-1 for an increase. The funds generated by the hike are needed to boost teacher pay and augment school safety, said Robert Peterson, director of business administration for the district.

"Our children deserve the very best education," he said. Teachers are in line to get 7.5% pay hikes for the coming school year, but he said starting pay for Weber School District instructors will still trail starting pay offered in the Ogden, Davis, Cache, Logan, Salt Lake and Canyons school districts.

The increase will boost school district property tax collections for 2023 to $79.76 million, up $9.61 million, or 13.7%, from $70.15 million, what the district would otherwise have been able to collect without the hike. That increase will boost local school taxes on a home worth $526,000, the median value, from $970.89 to $1,103.97, according to district numbers.

"It was a mix of opinions. Some in favor, but more in opposition," Lane Findlay, the school district spokesman, said of public feedback to the tax hike proposal. Ogden School District is proposing a tax hike, also to help bolster teacher pay, and a truth-in-taxation hearing on that plan is set for Aug. 18.

Weber school board member Janis Christensen, who cast the lone no vote against the hike, said she was swayed by the feedback at the hearing. Like some who spoke, she said she wanted to wait "to see what is going to happen with this horrible inflation and economy."

'THEY WERE NOT HAPPY'

Harrisville and South Ogden officials held hearings on Tuesday.

The Harrisville meeting drew a standing-room-only crowd at the city's municipal building and perhaps 30 or 40 speakers. "They were not happy," said Mayor Michelle Tait, who had anticipated such a reaction.

Jennie Knight, the Harrisville city administrator, said some expressed particular concern about the proposed hike coming as inflation spikes.

The Harrisville increase, the first since 2013 if approved, would boost property tax collections from $354,030, the total allowable without going through the tax hearing process, to $941,570, an increase of around 166%. Taxes on a home worth $420,000, the median value in Harrisville, would go from $130.28 to $346.50.

Jennie Knight, the Harrisville city administrator, said city council members didn't discuss the matter or take any action after this week's meeting. They'll hold a work session at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at the city building, 363 W. Independence Blvd., and tentatively take action at the City Council meeting on Aug. 16.

Funds from the tax hike would help bolster services offered in Harrisville as the city grows. "Up to this point, the council was all for this. They asked for this," Tait said.

South Ogden Mayor Russell Porter said seven people spoke at that city's truth-in-taxation hearing on Tuesday. "Most of them just wanted to know what the money would be used for," he said.

The proposed hike in South Ogden would boost property tax collections for 2023 to $4.18 million, up $345,251 or 9% from the $3.83 million the city would otherwise be able to collect, according to data from the Weber County Clerk/Auditor's office. The increase would boost taxes on a home worth $451,000, the median value, from $547.94 to $597.30.

South Ogden has implemented modest tax hikes in recent years to avoid the shock to property owners of a large tax hike. South Ogden officials will likely take action on the tax hike proposal and 2023 budget at the Aug. 16 City Council meeting.

The Ogden City Council also held a truth-in-taxation hearing on Tuesday, drawing a standing-room-only crowd and 49 speakers. Officials approved a 16.8% property tax hike over what the city would otherwise be able to collect, which will generate an extra $2.7 million for the city or $19 million in property taxes in all.

The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District was to hold a hearing on its proposed tax hike on Thursday with additional hearings by other taxing entities set for the next two weeks.

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