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Letter to the Editor - Education and Property Taxes

Article Date: 
17 August, 2012 (All day)

With the proposed increase in property taxes for schools I looked up my property taxes that applied to Morgan county schools for the years 2005  - 2011 and the proposed increase for 2012, it is as follows:
                          YEAR             AMOUNT      INCREASE
                          2005                $450.21
                          2006                $466.07                3.5%
                          2007                $638.17               36.9%    
                          2008                $712.79               11.7%
                          2009                $748.83                 5.0%
                          2010                $771.51                 3.0%
                          2011                $802.34                 4.0%
                          2012                $886.43                10.5%
In the last eight years, comparing 2005 to the proposed 2012 increase, school property tax revenue has increased 96.9 percent which is a substantial increase for any organization.  During some of those years the actual evaluation of property has decreased.
There exists a food chain, those at the top do quite well while those at the bottom are consumed.  Such a chain also exists for taxes.  Those at the top (Government  - which includes schools) do quite well while those at the bottom (property owner) are figuratively consumed.  It is often stated that it is only a small increase per month, but when lumped with all other increases it is substantial.  For example:  Phone service just increased, Rocky Mtn Power has just asked for a second increase, gasoline is almost prohibitive.  When all of the increases are combined, the one at the bottom of the tax chain, especially those on a fixed retirement income, have no one to turn to to request an additional 10% increase so they must do with a 10 percent decrease.  Costs for the individual property owner have increased just as it has for education.  Individuals also have emergencies, a slush fund, for such things as septic tank problems, car repair, new roof, sickness, new appliances, well repair, etc.  We don’t need to figuratively consume the old property owner to provide for the new generation.  There must be an appropriate balance between the two.
I am not anti-education.  I have been a public school teacher, worked in industry and also in higher education.  Can our schools be more frugal?  From my observation of 35 years the answer is definitely YES.   Does Morgan School District need to send five or more bus loads of middle school students to Ogden to play arcade games as a reward for being B or better students?  They can play video games on their own home computers.  Could it be that our school buses are way over used?  Why can’t vice-principals teach one class per year?  Is open enrollment the best policy?  The district receives state monies for out-of-district students but receives no county property taxes for such students.  Surely the student population has increased but likewise has the number of taxpayers and the amount of taxes paid.   I believe there are many ways the school district can reduce expenses and still provide a great education.  Perhaps a citizens’ overview committee could provide additional input and expertise.
Charles M Crittenden
1819 N Morgan Valley Drive
Morgan, UT 84050
810 829-6538