The Grand County School Board has frozen the tax rate for the second year in a row. With the increased growth in the county and the annexation of San Juan County properties that fall within Spanish Valley as part of the school levies, the school district’s tax revenue should increase by $332,972.
“Had we not frozen the tax rate we would have lost that revenue,” said Jim Webster, Grand County School District board member.
Property owners would be paying less in school tax overall if the tax rate wasn’t frozen, as the tax rate would have decreased as more individual properties bear the burden of the levy.
The school district held a Truth in Taxation public hearing at their office on Thursday, Aug. 9, as required by the state, because property owners are paying more than they would have had the school district not frozen the tax rate.
A property owner with a home assessed at $200,000 would have paid $685.41 in school tax last year. If the property assessed value remains the same, the property owner will pay the same amount. However, if the school district did not freeze the tax rate, the property owner would have paid $632.50, or $52.91 less than the previous year.
The school board waited until the state set their tax rate for the year in order to make sure that taxpayers would not be paying higher school taxes overall this year.
“The board has been very conscientious in not hitting everyone with higher taxes,” said Robert Farnsworth, business administrator for the Grand County School District.
San Juan County properties in Spanish Valley were annexed by the school district this year. In years previous the school district would receive monies from San Juan County for educating students. The school district received $211,000 in 2011 and plans to receive $213,000 this year from annexed properties in San Juan County. In 2010, the district received $80,000 from San Juan County to educate students.
“We waited until the state levy was set so we could ‘freeze’ the tax rate, while still capturing growth from San Juan,” Webster said.
The Grand County School District expects $7,721,453 in tax revenue this year, as compared to $7,388,481 from last year because of the growth.
“If you don’t capture the growth you get less and less until you need to do a general increase. This way, it keeps it fair for all the taxpayers,” said Scott Crane, Grand County School District Superintendent.
An anonymous donor gave $1.4 million over two years to the school district after a substantial shortfall was discovered in 2009 following the death of the previous school district business administrator.
“We had to cut a lot of positions. The ones we reinstated after the donation were on a year-to-year contract,” Farnsworth said.
With the increased tax revenue, the district will now be able to make some of those positions permanent.
“We are trying to wean ourselves off that donation,” Webster said. “It’s not fair to rely on this donor.”
The donor has donated $140,000 for the 2012-13 school year.