PCSD plans to raise property taxes
June 22, 2012
As a prelude to raising property taxes, the Park City Board of Education will hold a Truth in Taxation hearing sometime in August. During the Board meeting on Tuesday, Members voted to raise property taxes by $4 million. According to Park City School District Business Administrator Todd Hauber, the school district hopes the tax increase will generate enough money to create a sustainable budget for five years.
"The Board wants to create sustainability over the next five-year horizon. The $4 million is the amount that would be necessary to get to that 5th year and still have the district in compliance with the auditor’s recommendation for reserve," Hauber said, adding that from the overall $42.8 million budget, the auditor recommends not dropping below about $7.1 million, in order to cover two months of expenditures if needed.
The board levy for $4 million on a $500,000 primary home would cost $110. The cost is about $22 per $100,000. The cost for a second homeowner and business is $201, which is a little more than $40 per $100,000.
According to Park City School Board member Michael Boyle, this will impact the whole community. Board members discussed a $5 million property tax increase, but decided the tax payer increase would be too much.
"I personally think $5 million is too much, I would rather do $4 million," Boyle said. "The intent is to hold a Truth in Taxation every year to explain what we’re doing. We can always lower taxes and we’re open to reducing taxes."
In 2005, the average primary homeowner paid the school district about $1,600. In 2011, property taxes paid to the district dropped to $1,200, which Boyle said has to do with the interest paid on bonds. With the $4 million dollar tax increase, the average primary homeowner will pay the school district about $1,400 annually.
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Board members tentatively approved a budget of $46 million, but are only planning on budgeting $42.8 million with the rest going into the reserve fund. That money will be budgeted out over the next five years, according to Boyle, who said the school district also set aside $1 million for employee negotiations starting in 2013. There will be no compensation increases for school district employees this year, he said.
Park City School Board member Lisa Kirchenheiter said the property tax increase is a big chunk of change for some people.
"It’s easy to say lets to $5 million lets do $4 million. I’m just trying to put that in perspective with my family. It’s a load of money and I would feel more comfortable with the $4 million," she said.
In addition to the property tax increase, the school district is also taking recommendations from Education Management Solutions, the company that started auditing the district office about three months ago.
According to Education Management Solutions auditor George Mathes, the objective was to look at staffing requirements to evaluate the positions required to run a district with about 4,400 students.
"It’s always good to take a look internally," Mathes said. "We were here for a total of three times starting in April and we interviewed a total of 52 individuals in the district office for about an hour at least. Our findings came down to four recommendations."
EMS recommended that the school district consolidate a few positions, establish new positions, realign departments and realign programs.
"There were areas in this building that we felt were not operating as a team with the interest of the children and for the Park City School District. Some of these positions we’ve realigned," Mathes said.
According to Park City School District Superintendent Ray Timothy, the school district office will move forward with the recommendations.
"I support the recommendations and it seems to align things in a more logical manner. I think they pointed out some weaknesses that we have as far as streamlining and becoming more efficient," Timothy said. "We are going to move forward and those changes will be reflected throughout the summer."
Another discussion item includes licensed employee negotiations, according to Park City School District Director of Human Recourses Tim McConnell, who said they are making progress. Negotiation teams have agreed to work toward a multi-year approach so they aren’t negotiating every year.
"I think we’ve had some really positive discussion this far," McConnell said. "The multi-year agreement is different. Whether or not it’s improved overall I think time will have to tell with that. I think part of the concept behind it is to not always feel like we’re negotiating."
The negotiation team representing the school district includes Timothy, McConnell, and Trailside Elementary Principal Kathy Einhorn. Teachers representing the Park City Education Association include PCEA co-president Ed Mulick, former PCEA president Heidi Matthews and Treasure Mountain Junior High School teacher Susan Graves-Henneman.
Negotiation teams are trying to stay within a set of interests that align with both parties’ views. McConnell said long-range sustainability, fiscal responsibility, focusing on student learning and maintaining excellence are areas the teams refer back to.
"Even though we are in discussions on salary and insurance and professional development, we try to keep those values at the center in how we make those decisions," he said.
The next school board work session is scheduled August 7. A Truth in Taxation hearing will be scheduled for sometime at the end of August. For more information regarding the budget visit http://www.pcschools.us .