After holding a Truth in Taxation hearing on August 3, the Grand County Board of Education has approved the district’s tax rates for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. After a brief presentation from Grand County Schools Business Administrator Robert Farnsworth, the board voted in favor of freezing the tax rates in order to help pull in new funds that can be used for capital building projects, and help offset the impacts of inflation.
According to Farnsworth, while the overall tax rate will stay the same as it was last year, the board decided to adjust the rates in both the Capital Local Levy and the Debt Service Levy. By doing this, Farnsworth said the district will nearly eliminate a fund balance that is currently in the Debt Service fund, while adding extra funds to the Capital Fund. Farnsworth explained that the State Auditor frowns on carrying a fund balance in the Debt Service fund.
While this adjustment will bring in additional funds for building projects, such as the upcoming asbestos abatement and installation of new flooring at Grand County Middle School, Farnsworth pointed out that none of the money will be available to help with day-to-day expenses such as salaries and utility bills. That’s because, by state law, those expenses must be paid out of the district’s Maintenance and Operations fund which is funded by the Board Local levy. The rate for that levy is currently at the state-mandated maximum.
For most residents in the Grand County School District, the decision to freeze the rates should mean that the school portion of their taxes will remain the same as it was last year. However, a large number of the county’s residents saw their properties reassessed this year. Many of those properties will likely see an increase in their taxes as a result of the new assessment.
According to Grand County Treasurer Chris Kaufmman, the Assessor’s Office operates on a five-year cycle, meaning properties should be reassessed every five years. This year, Kaufmann said that those reassessments included most residential properties within the Moab City limits. The GCSD has no control over when properties are reassessed.
On property tax notices, the tax freeze will appear as an increase of $66.74 on a primary residence valued at $296,000. It's advertised as an increase because if tax rates had been allowed to decrease, the taxes on that residence would have dropped by that amount. That's because each year the Certified Tax Rate is set at the tax level necessary to bring in exactly the same amount of funds as the previous tax year.. However, Farnsworth said that allowing the tax rate to drop each year causes problems, because it makes it hard for entities to account for inflation and increased costs.
Grand County Board of Education Vice President Jim Webster said that the board has been working hard to actively manage the district’s tax rates each year in order to ensure the greatest benefits to both the taxpayers and the district.
Residents are encouraged to contact Farnsworth with any questions about the tax rates and how they will affect their property taxes. Farnsworth can be reached at 259-3483. A Powerpoint presentation that details the changes can be found at: http://grandschools.org/sites/default/files/2016-03/districtoffice/Truth%20in%20Taxation%202016.pdf