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Canyons Announces Date, Time of Truth-in-Taxation Hearing

To keep pace with inflation and cover growing operational expenses, Canyons District is proposing an increase in the Certified Tax Rate for the 2024-2025 school year.

This is the first time in five years the District has sought to recoup inflation through a rate increase, which will be used to cover rising costs in wages, materials, utilities and other expenses.

The public is invited to learn more and give input at a Truth-in-Taxation hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 6 p.m. in the Canyons Board of Education chambers in the Canyons District Offices, 9361 S. 300 East in Sandy.

This meeting will be livestreamed on CSDtv and the public will be invited to offer feedback. Questions or comments also can be emailed to communications@canyonsdistrict.org. Please submit your input via this email address if you cannot attend the hearing but would like your voice to be heard.

How will this impact my taxes?

The exact amount for each home is shown on the property tax notices mailed by the Salt Lake County Auditor by July 22, 2024. The annual tax increase for the average home in Canyons District (valued at $703,200) would be $94. That’s under $8 per month. The last time Canyons increased taxes was in 2019. Since then, the District has absorbed inflationary costs, which have risen 20 percent. Over that same time period, the starting salary for teachers has increased from $50,000 to $61,610, or 23.3 percent. The proposed $94 increase equates to a difference of 6.12 percent.

How would the money be used?

Property taxes levied for District operations are used to help pay for salaries and benefits of District employees, including teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, custodians, and others who provide instructional and other support services in schools. The proposed tax rate would yield $5 million in General Fund revenue to offset inflationary increases that are putting a squeeze on fixed education budgets. Last year, to operate its 50 schools and programs and keep its 190 buses running, Canyons spent $9.4 million on utilities, and bus fuel, maintenance and repairs. For more details, see the tentative budget for 2024-2025. Other growing expenses include:

• Cost-of-living increases for teachers, staff, and administrators
• $712,000 for one-lane pay increase for paraeducators in CSD’s special education classrooms
• Cybersecurity upgrades
• $406,000 increase in state property and liability insurance
• $480,000 investment to meet the District’s obligation in covering a portion of the salaries for School Resource Officers
• Extra planning time for elementary teachers and training for special education teachers
• $530,000 hike in cost of utilities, supplies, and curriculum

Don’t property taxes already keep pace with inflation?

No. In Utah, property tax rates are automatically adjusted to compensate for swings in property values. This adjusted tax rate is called the Certified Tax Rate. As property values rise, the certified rate falls so as to keep neutral the amount of revenue generated from year to year. This system, as designed by the state Legislature in 1985, allows local governments and school districts to draw the same amount of revenue as budgeted the previous year. However, the certified tax rate does not capture inflation. For this reason, the Utah Taxpayers Association, a taxpayer advocacy group, recommends “taxing entities issue a modest tax hike every five to seven years to capture the impacts of inflation.” Recouping accruing inflationary losses is done through the transparent Truth-in-Taxation process.

If my tax rate remained the same last year, why did my taxes go up?

Generally, when property values grow, property tax rates decline to maintain revenue neutrality. Even with this built-in ceiling effect, some property owners might have a higher property tax bill while others see a decrease. This is because the tax rate is based on average home valuations. If your home was recently assessed or your valuation rose at an above-average rate, you would see an increased payment. If your home valuation was below-average, you may pay less.

What is the average value of a home in Canyons District?

From 2023 to 2024, the average home value in Canyons District increased 7.7 percent. The highest home values are in Draper and the ski towns of Alta and Brighton. The highest increase in home valuations was in White City.

What about state funding? Hasn’t that increased for schools?

State funding has not kept pace with inflation. Public education’s share of the overall state budget has declined (see below), and real education funding (inflation-adjusted) fell in fiscal years 2021 and 2023, both the total amounts and on a per-student basis.

Why can’t you use money from the increase to the capital local levy?

The proposed budget for 2024-2025 includes an increase in the capital local levy. This tax increase, which will fund $50 million in lease-revenue bonds, was approved following a public hearing on March 12, 2024. The bonds will finance needed upgrades and renovations at Jordan High, Corner Canyon High, Hillcrest High, and Eastmont Middle schools and cannot be used for ongoing expenses like salaries. Work on those schools has begun this summer. The lease-revenue bonds have a comparatively short repayment schedule of 14 years. You can find more information here.

What relief is available for homeowners on fixed incomes?

We appreciate some of our patrons who are living on fixed incomes struggle to afford even modest property tax increases. In their foresight, the Utah Legislature has created six different relief programs. Information on the programs can be found on Salt Lake County’s website: https://slco.org/treasurer/tax-relief/. The deadline for applications to participate in these programs is Sept. 3, 2024.

What’s the line on my property tax notice titled, “Canyons School Debt Service?”

 Debt service is revenue used to repay the two general obligation bonds voters approved in 2010 and 2017 to refurbish and perform seismic upgrades on outdated schools. The amount you see listed decreases as Canyons pays down the bonds. In other words, this is not a new assessment. It’s merely showing progress toward repayment. In previous years, Salt Lake County reported debt service as part of the line item, “Canyons School District.”

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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