Jordan School Board Votes Yes On Controversial Tax Increase

Aug 6, 2019, 10:43 PM

After three hours of public input from 88 passionate speakers on both sides of the debate, the Jordan School District board was unanimous in voting yes for a property tax increase.

“Yay! That’s awesome,” said Vicki Olsen, a homeowner, teacher and president of the Jordan Education Association. “Thank you Jordan School District board for supporting education.”

Two weeks from the start of the school year, the parking lot at Riverton High School was full for the board meeting. The issue was a tax increase of about $20 for every $100,000 of a home’s value every year, for the purpose of raising the school district’s teacher salary about $6,000 a year. The tax hike will also bump teachers’ starting pay up to $48,000.

“The teachers are worth it,” said one teacher.

One of the concerns raised came from senior citizens who are on a fixed income. “Are you going to pay my tax increase?” one woman asked the board. “I hope you do.”

But teachers say there’s much more at stake than just their wallets.

“This affects me,” Olsen said. “I’ll be paying more in taxes too.”

Olsen has been teaching in the district for nearly 30 years and understands the opposition to the tax increase. But she says it’s about attracting and retaining the best teachers for the students.

“If you can do the same job and just travel a little bit of a different distance, wouldn’t you go somewhere where you can earn more money?”

That was the argument from many teachers at the meeting. But not all teachers were on board with the tax increase.

“That is somewhat true,” said Crystal Nebeker. “I think it takes more than just salaries to keep good teachers here.”

Nebeker is also a homeowner and a teacher in the district. Like many opponents, she supports a bump in salary, but not in this way.

“As a teacher I see so much waste in the school district and I’m concerned that there’s money that could be allocated toward our salaries without spending it in places where it’s not necessary.”

The last time the school board raised taxes was back in 2009. And on Tuesday, they voted to do it again, prompting an immediate applause from teachers and supporters in the Riverton High School auditorium.

The school district says Jordan is among only seven districts out of 41 that have waited this long to raise taxes. The district also says only two districts in Utah spend less per student than Jordan. Thirty-eight districts spend more.

Those impacted by the tax increase are property owners within Jordan School District boundaries. This includes residents and businesses in Bluffdale, Copperton, Herriman, Riverton, South Jordan and West Jordan.

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Jordan School Board Votes Yes On Controversial Tax Increase