David Rodeback's Blog

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Property Tax Increase Follow-up

Quick notes on how things are going, and a little bonus commentary on the Alpine School District budget.


In my two previous posts, I asked you -- practically begged you -- to write to American Fork Mayor Heber Thompson and to each member of the City Council about their current consideration of a large property tax increase. Some of you have already written. Fellow American Fork blogger M. Ryan Taylor also blogged about it. There's still time for you to write if you haven't already, so please do so.

Yesterday morning I e-mailed my own letter (as a PDF file) to all six officials, besides delivering a hard copy for each. I had replies from three of the six before noon. I'm treating the specific replies and their writers as off-the-record, but the general sense is, no one seems to think the increase will approach 50 percent, and there really is no desire for a large increase in the first place.

One wonders, then, why the City would submit 50 percent to the County as a possible increase in the first place, if they knew they weren't going to go nearly that high in the end? Why subject themselves unnecessarily to the inevitable newspaper articles and resulting public furor? Maybe it was tone-deaf politics then; maybe it's damage control now. Maybe it's some of both. Maybe it's something else. Think what you will. In any case, it's good that they're already distancing themselves from an enormous increase.

I also got some of the let-the-voters-decide thinking that the press reported from the work session. That's fine for bond issues, where the voters really do decide, and in this case may be able to subject themselves to another 50 percent increase if they choose, by passing all the bond issues. But it is perhaps less satisfactory for a conventional tax increase, where only the City Council actually votes, after input from a handful of voters, who are virtually never a good cross-section of the population.

Alpine School District Budget Spin

Not too many weeks ago, the Deseret News reported that the Alpine School Board approved the district budget for the next fiscal year. The brief report gave the total amount of the budget and the amount of the increase over last year. It was oddly silent on the resulting impact on my property tax bill.

For all of its brevity -- and you wonder if the report came straight from an ASD press release -- the article did manage to take a shot at charter schools.

The number of charter school students in Alpine District has also increased. Per state legislation, the district will be paying about $900,000 to support charter students who live within its boundaries.

Tell me that this is not supposed to be my cue to think that those evil charter schools, promoted by the anti-education majority in the Utah Legislature, are sucking out almost a million dollars from that budget, which should be going to the public schools.

The facts of the matter, of course, are somewhat different. Charter schools are public schools. They are not as much under the control of the educational establishment as conventional schools, which grates on the establishment. And students are flocking to them, especially in the Alpine School District, because of some serious curriculum and administrative problems in the District -- which embarrasses the District, but not as much as it should.

. . . Which is why the Alpine School District wants us to think that charter schools are a problem, wasting taxpayer money and the expense of the legitimate, establishment public schools. Those evil legislators!

Never mind the fact that, if ASD actually had that $900,000, they'd have to spend it to educate the charter school students in the conventional schools, anyway.

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