In an effort to keep pace with growing salaries for teachers in nearby school districts, the Tooele County School District approved a 2021 fiscal year budget that includes keeping their property tax rate at the present level instead of dropping it to the certified rate.
The Tooele County School approved a $191.8 million budget for their 2021 fiscal year during their meeting on Tuesday night at the school district office. The budget is up $10.6 million, or 5.8%, for the 2020 fiscal year budget.
One of the largest elements of the increase is a proposed increase in salaries for teachers and other district employees. The 2021 budget includes an increase of $4.6 million for salaries and benefits, 4% over the 2020 budget.
While the payroll expense increase includes a 2.5% increase in health insurance premiums and an increase in long term disability insurance expense, of which 40% is covered by the school district, the bulk of the increase is a result of directing increased revenue from the state and a higher than certified local property tax rate to teacher salaries.
Granite School District recently announced that the starting salary for a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree in their district for the 2021 year will be $50,380. The base pay for a new teacher in Tooele County School District is currently $43,800.
The first version of Tooele County School District’s 2021 budget included a $1,200 boost to the base pay for a new teacher, with a likewise adjustment to each level on the salary schedule.
The first version of the budget would have dropped the property tax rate from the current .009565 to the new certified rate of .009042.
In the second version of the 2021 budget, the property tax is kept at .009565 to generate an additional $3 million to be used for salary increases for teachers and other district employees.
The additional $3 million will cost the owner of a $250,000 home an additional $71.91 per year in property taxes.
The school district will be able to raise the starting level of the certified salary schedule by $2,950, from $43,800 to 46,750.
“We can decide today to take care of our teachers and make a difference to the salaries of those key folks,” said school board member Scott Bryan. “At some point it doesn’t matter if we get a new school or not if we don’t have great quality teachers in those schools.”
Adopting a property tax rate higher than the certified rate means the district will need to go through the Truth in Taxation process, which requires a public notice and hearing before the property tax rate can be adopted.