Logan education board unanimously approves 2012 budget plan

Due to increasing retirement rates for teachers, less federal funding and declining property values resulting in fewer property taxes, the Logan City School District Board of Education will be lucky to break even in fiscal year 2012, and to try to do so may result in higher property taxes. Zane Woolstenhulme, business administrator, said, “There is no wiggle room in our general fund right now, and I will feel good if we break even.” The Logan City School District Board of Education discussed and unanimously approved the fiscal year 2012 budget plan at a meeting Tuesday evening. Despite making cuts, including five teacher layoffs at the Logan High School much to the dismay of the community, the district was still short $241,207 in its preliminary budget plan. It was covered by a one-time capital transfer approved by the board; however, it leaves a $203,000 deficit for FY 2013. “We should have cut three more teachers to make the budget right, but we didn’t. So this deficit will carry over to the 2013 fiscal year. I’m not sure if we will have to cut more teachers next year. We will just have to see where we land after next year,” Woolstenhulme said. Since the board used the option of the capital transfer, additional funds are needed to meet this deficit in the capital account, which pays for things like text books and classroom supplies. To provide additional funding in the dwindling account, the board will most likely propose a tax increase in August to Logan City taxpayers. The certified tax rate for the 2012 fiscal year is .008143, but the board will propose a rate increase of .000417, putting the rate at .008285. This means, Woolstenhulme said, that a home with a market value of $150,000 will pay an extra $22.69 in taxes, totaling to $672 in 2012. A home with a market value of $170,000 will pay an extra $25.71 in taxes per year, totaling to $774.65. In order to authorize the tax increase, the board must go through Truth in Taxation in August. According to State of Utah website, this

<a href=”http://propertytax.utah.gov/about/truth.html”>law</a>

means public hearings are mandatory when an entity proposes to increase revenues above those collected in the previous year, with new growth revenues being exempted. The cause of the needed increase comes partially from lowering assessed property values. Another economic challenge facing the district is increasing retirement rates and health insurance costs. The Logan City School District estimates it will require an extra $111,729 for FY 2012. The district also lost over $2.8 million in funding related to basic programs such as those for at-risk students, adult education and gifted and talented students. The loss occurred in federal grants as well as social security money because of a struggling economy. Woolstenhulme said, “This is money we no longer have and currently there is nowhere to get it.” Board member Ann Geary told a frustrated audience Tuesday evening that the board had to adopt the budget, though tentative, during the Tuesday night meeting as required by state law. Audience members, many Logan High School students, were upset at the lack of ‘wiggle room’ in the budget to help fund programs like band and teachers’ salaries who have been laid off. Geary said she thinks the proposed tax increase will illicit a specific response from fixed income tax payers: “‘Fluff’ like music and art is what we’ll hear people say should be cut to avoid an increase.”

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