Carbon County School District Press Release
The Carbon School Board voted at its regular monthly meeting on Aug. 12 to pass a tax increase of $187,000 for the next year.
The district has been fighting a losing battle over the last seven years as state revenue that is awarded to the district continues to decrease, while costs and competition for good teachers increase.
The board voted the tax increase after having a Truth-In-Taxation meeting during the regular meeting and in general said they regretted that it needed to be done.
In the past few years as the state has changed the funding, the use of reserve funds the district has for bad times or emergencies has dwindled. According to District Business Manager Darin Lancaster, the district currently has only $1.2 million in its fund and if the board had not voted for the increase it would have dropped to almost $1 million this year. In an average month, salaries for district employees alone take up $1.5 million.
This year, the state legislature took away a percentage of the money given to districts to use for supporting charter schools across the state. The money taken out of Carbon’s budget this year would not go directly to the local charter school but into some kind of general charter school fund. Some of the large districts in the state lost just short of $1 million this year, but Carbon was impacted the most percentage wise of any district in the state.
“The issue here is the state legislature, not Pinnacle Canyon Academy,” said board member Jeff Richens, clarifying the board’s position on how funding has changed.
Over the past few years, the state has already dropped the funding to the district by over $300,000 per year doing similar types of moves.
“Originally, the charter school promise to the school districts by the legislature was that they would hold districts harmless when it came to funding,” said board president Wayne Woodward. “In the past few years they have had two occasions where they allocated money to the charter school system from our district and others. The last time the board voted on increasing taxes we declined it and took the money from the reserve fund. But if we now continue to do that another $187,000 will come out of the fund each year.”
Richens pointed out that the legislature tried to do something similar with voucher programs many years ago but never got by the entire legislative body.
“This is just a replacement for that idea,” he said. “It’s a roundabout way of doing the same thing.”
What can be done when the legislature does things like this?
“Communities need to reach out to the legislature,” said Paulette Vogrinec, president of the Carbon Education Association. “There are 30 other districts having to do the same thing in the state right now to make up the difference in their revenues too.”
The tax hike was included in the 2015-16 school budget, which had been tentatively approved in June but could not be formalized until a Truth-In-Taxation hearing could be held. The district did not have a July board meeting, consequently the hearing was held on Wednesday night.
Board member Kristen Taylor added at the end of the discussion how much she feels for people having to pay more taxes.
“But I also want to see our kids have a good education,” she said. “It’s almost impossible to be competitive for good teachers with the funding we are being given. As hard as it is to raise taxes, that fact is very much on our minds.”