School board OKs tax hike; cites inflation, teacher salaries

ST. GEORGE – Citing inflation and the need to keep teacher salaries competitive, the Board of Education for the Washington County School District approved a 1.85 percent tax increase during a public Truth-in-Taxation hearing Tuesday.

One school board member voted against the tax increase.

“I default on the side of the taxpayer even though we do need more money for the teachers, even though inflation is real,” school board member Craig Seegmiller said, who was the lone dissenter in the vote. Interim board member Ralph Brooks did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

“There’s a lot of compelling arguments for why it needed to happen,” Seegmiller said. “But I always want the public to know that we’re listening. I want the public to know that we understand that there are compelling arguments on the other side too.”

Seegmiller said he hasn’t ever voted for a tax increase.

“Always, always, always I want to default to ‘how do we do more with less?’ Now, in school districts, we’re already doing more with less and it’s tough,” he said.

Only seven members of the public spoke at the meeting, held at the school district offices, 121 West Tabernacle Street in St. George. Of those, one wanted to appeal her property valuation, a function of the Washington County Assessor’s Office.

Read more: Shocked by property taxes? Help is available

Three educators and one county resident spoke in favor of the tax increase. Another man asked how many people have children in school but don’t own property and therefore don’t pay property taxes.

Local developer Dean Terry spoke to the board at length, encouraging them to be frugal and suggesting they consider a year-round school schedule. He pointed out that school lawns are watered and maintained all year even through the summer when class is not in session and that costs money.

“Water is precious,” Terry said. “Those green, beautiful lawns maintained in every way during the summer kind of grind on some of us.”

The  tax hike will increase the district’s portion of property taxes by 1.85 percent and bring in $713,000.

For taxpayers, it is the fourth increase in four years; the school board raised taxes 3 percent in 2015 and 6 percent in 2014, in addition to a $185 million construction bond passed by voters in 2013.

Read more: Third tax hike in 3 years? School board sets public hearing

The increase will raise property taxes on an average home – valued at $245,197 – by $7.96 each year. Businesses valued at the same amount would see an increase of $14.47 per year.  The tax will be included in the county’s 2016 property taxes.

About the Washington County Board of Education 

The Washington County Board of Education was established under the authority of the Utah Constitution and consists of seven members elected by district to four-year terms. The last general election for the school board was held November 4, 2014, filling four seats. Three seats are up for election in November.

The Board of Education is authorized to levy taxes for public schools within the district.

Other entities with the power to levy property taxes include cities, Washington County, the Mosquito Abatement District and the Washington County Water Conservancy District. To increase taxes, a taxing entity must hold a hearing to take public comment but is not legally bound by comments received.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Don Bagley August 9, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    I know someone who won’t like this news.

  • old school August 9, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Washington County school board needs to start trimming the FAT instead of continually sticking it to the taxpayers. I live near Desert High/Middle School and the place looks more like a college campus complete with logo emblazoned astro turf on the playing field. The only problem is that it’s not a college campus filled with tuition paying students, it’s a public school funded by the tax payers.The school amenities seem to double as a “country club” for local community and some students seem to spend more time at the “church” building that shares the property than they do in class. The “Good Old Boy” network obviously isn’t going to let a little thing like “iintegrity” get in the way of filling their pockets, So at this point I’m thinking embezzlement, fraud and class action lawsuit

    • Bob August 10, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      corruption, waste, greed. this is why having “local control” of federal public lands will always be a bad idea. We can’t even depend on the local mormon school board to play fairly. Local mormon policymakers are even more corrupt than those in DC

  • .... August 10, 2016 at 12:10 am

    It seems that the board of education needs two purchase more 4×4 vehicles for their personal vacation travels

  • Bob August 10, 2016 at 1:59 am

    stick the knife in and cut a little deeper each time, but just say its for the kids–for good teachers

  • tcrider August 10, 2016 at 8:15 am

    local skin flints should see what the rest of the country pays its teachers,
    and how far out of touch this city is. Saint George is also way under scale
    when it comes to paying its police officers and firefighters.

    • ScanMeister August 10, 2016 at 9:22 am

      I agree too that our county/area is way under (wage/salary) other comparable county/areas in the nation. We need to make appropriate adjustments to bring this shortfall in line with other like/areas.

      • Bob August 10, 2016 at 12:26 pm

        it’s a mormon thing

        • .... August 10, 2016 at 2:40 pm

          Well at least you’re maintaining you’re level of ignorance and stupidity

  • Not_So_Much August 10, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Good schools are a plus for any community and I support that. The person who suggested going to a year round school schedule and desert friendly landscaping is point on. Perhaps an all out effort to abandon any new FUTURE pensions is an idea whose time has come. Educators can join the majority of americans who self direct their own retirement with a matching percentage coming from the district making it a pay as you go system. Tenure is another antiquated idea that teacher unions were able to force upon taxpayers and must go.

    There are ways to save money and have quality education at the same time. It really is time for the school board to get to work and find solutions instead of always going to the well of taxpayer money to solve issues. I for one will vote against any board member who voted in favor of this ‘necessary’ tax increase. If the school board can’t find 2% in savings we do have a problem and it’s the school board.

  • theone August 10, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Increase, decrease, side crease blah blah blah, you can literally see deceptive language coming out of both sides of their mouths.
    The state needs to stop spending tax money on useless laws to protect imaginary persecution of christians and give Teachers a raise.
    Yes I know there’s plenty of other waste, but that one annoys me the most.

  • godisdead August 10, 2016 at 11:53 am

    We need to quit giving tax breaks for all of these children. If people had to pay their fair share, they might use more birth control, and part of the problem would go away.
    When religions preach the need to give spiritual children a home on earth, even when many don’t have the means to support them, the religions should carry some of the financial burden.
    Tax church property.

  • NotSoFast August 10, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    In coming months, there won’t be a need for a local school board. The National School czars will tell us what to pay teachers, what to teach and how, what to allow in the hallways, what goes. What can be protested, what is unlawful to talk about. etc. You got a urine poor teacher on staff teaching the kids? That’s the breaks partner. The union contract, paragraph 21b- 998b and page 69, all paragraph, says; Oh yea?
    You follow the national education codes, i.e., anything they say. If you complain or say up yours? Expect reduced funding. if any at all..
    At lease at present, you elect local school board members to manage the communities educational needs. In the further, needed attention will come only if you don’t complain. Bottom line, give the current board a break. Their doing the best they can with what they have.

  • Dolly August 10, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Bob, I agree with your stick in the knife thought… I am sick of hearing it’s for the kids. So, so, so many kids in Utah…why? The LDS church, of course. It’s like a pyramid scheme…have more kids, end up with more tithing. Not only do a lot of them live in apartments, so no property taxes, but many get all kinds of government help with food, rent, etc. Not only do I not have children, I never attended any school in Utah, and I am a property owner. Looks like I’m really getting the short end of the stick around here!

  • Proud Rebel August 11, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I’m sort of wondering if any of this tax increase will actually find it’s way into the teachers salaries. Or are “administrative costs” going to eat up the increase?

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