Park City Schools sail into school-year with surplus |

Park City Schools sail into school-year with surplus

Frank Fisher, of the Record staff

On August 21, a Truth in Taxation hearing will be held by the Park City School District to adjust tax rates supporting district programs. What has board members and administrators grinning is higher-than-expected recent tax revenue numbers coming in from the county. All told, the district has a $4 million surplus to begin the new school year.

Some of the tax rates may even be reduced, said district board member, Vern Christensen. Residents who have not had their property reassessed this year could conceivably pay lower property taxes next year.

A Truth in Taxation hearing is held every year when district tax rates have been set higher than the basic rate set by the state. Christensen said that Park City School District’s rates, which have been raised from previous years, were recently lowered to slightly above what the state has set, allowing room to raise them in coming years if necessary.

So why, after such a struggle maintaining any reserve last year, are the district coffers now brimming?

"The tax dollars came in higher than we anticipated," Patty Murphy, the district administrator said. "We just got the figures in July. You never know what you have in tax revenues until you see the whites of its eyes. The higher tax revenue coming in and the district cutbacks saved our bacon."

Christensen said a tax collection rate was the most important component. "The bottom line is we collected 105 percent of what was assessed." He said it is unusual for the county to collect more taxes than were assessed, and he doesn’t know how that happened.

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He said this year’s taxable appraised value on which the budget is based has seen a 2.4 billion increase, from 7.9 billion last year to 10.3 billion this year. One billion of that comes from new growth, and 1.4 billion comes from reappraisals of property, he said.

"Budget-wise, this is great news for the school district and taxpayers," Christensen said, adding that the budget trimming helped get things rolling in the right direction.

"What was a very important aspect was the process. It was great. It helped people understand the nuances of school finance. People looked far more closely at how the money is spent."

The next district work session will be held Aug. 7. Work sessions do not allow for public input, which Murphy said would best be communicated by e-mail to school board members. Tax rates, specific to certain district funds, will be considered, including the voted leeway, the 10 percent of basic levy, capital outlay, tort liability, the K-3 reading program, community recreation levy and debt service.

At the Truth in Taxation hearing, which begins at 6 p.m., Aug 21, the board will decide which of these tax rates should be raised, which should remain the same, and which may be lowered. Public comment will take place after figures have been decided.

To contact district school board members with comments, visit