Additional Statement made on Oct 10, 2022
Since our statement on Oct 3rd was published, there have been accusations that the Utah Taxpayers Association was bribed, “bought off”, “corrupted” or paid money for its support of Proposition 2. This is a categorically false statement. It is insulting and slanderous. The Utah Taxpayers Association has not been paid any amount of money by anyone involved in this issue, nor would we accept any. Just as the statement that “taxes will go up 50%” if Proposition 2 is passed is not based on anything near reality, this accusation is the same. The Utah Taxpayers Association was established in 1922 and has been advocating for taxpayers ever since, based on careful analysis and principles.
If one were to be curious about “coordination” on Proposition 2, we would point out that, after our statement of a neutral position on the bond (separate issue) website from the “neutral” Alpine School District, our logo and complimentary statements were highlighted and featured. Then, after our statement refuting the 50% tax hike claim and in support of Proposition 2, any mention of the Association or our statements were suddenly gone.
We urge voters in Orem to carefully read our statement. We reiterate our point that “By our own calculations, if higher taxes were needed, any near term increase would be very modest.”
October 3, 2022
After extensive research and analysis, the Utah Taxpayers Association wanted to provide the taxpayers of Orem with accurate information that will hopefully inform them as they vote on Proposition 2. The Association has gathered information from the Utah County Assessor, the Utah State Tax Commission, the Utah State Board of Education and the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst.
“Stronger Together” claims that, if Orem were to be split into a new school district, property taxes would go up by 56%. This is patently false. This claim is based on inaccurate calculations which suggest that Alpine School District subsidizes Orem school costs. These calculations are inaccurate for several reasons. First, they do not include all sources of funding that flow to a school district, which gives a distorted view of reality. Second, they initially relied on data that was mistakenly taken from 2017, and have since had to correct that claim. Another mistake was found when it was discovered that they included two high-cost schools which are no longer located in Orem and therefore should not be included. In fact, data produced by the Alpine School District shows that Orem taxpayers are contributing a larger percentage of revenue to the Alpine School District than their proportionate share of the student population.
With the proper taxable property values in the proposed district and conservative estimates of state funding and federal funding, it is reasonable to conclude that an Orem school district would very likely have sufficient revenue to support itself without the need for a property tax increase. In fact, an independent feasibility study was conducted that came to this conclusion. By our own calculations, if higher taxes were needed, any near term increase would be very modest. If the cities of Lindon and Vineyard were added to the new district eventually as well, the tax base would be even stronger. Finally, in a smaller district that was Orem-centric, Orem taxpayers could better hold the new school board accountable for any proposed bonds or changes in tax rates.
Finally, the proposed Orem school district boundary has a very robust tax base. This leads us to one final question that we believe Orem taxpayers should consider.
That is, if the claims by “Stronger Together” were correct (in that the remainder of Alpine School District subsidizes Orem to the tune of millions of dollars per year) why would they so vociferously oppose letting the Orem tax base form its own district?
If one part of an organization is a financial drain, why oppose letting that part go?
The vocal opposition to this proposal leads one to believe that the opposite is true: the Orem tax base is valuable and in fact, contributes more than its fair share to the Alpine School District.
Therefore, Orem taxpayers are justified in seeking more local control over their contribution to education, and the Utah Taxpayers Association urges Orem taxpayers to vote in favor of Proposition 2.