Sugar-Salem School Board members pose with state legislators Tuesday evening. | Mary Boyle, EastIdahoNews.com
SUGAR CITY — Property owners in the Sugar-Salem School District 322 will get some relief, thanks to a $720,000 grant.
The Sugar-Salem School Board meeting on Tuesday evening drew a crowd as the school district received the grant from the Homeowner Property Tax Relief Fund, a creation of House Bill 292 passed by the Idaho Legislature during the 2023 session.
House Bill 292’s purpose is to ease the financial burden traditionally carried by property owners when it comes to levies and bonds. This bill establishes a school district facilities fund, which can be utilized in lieu of property taxes for several purposes:
Payment of existing school bonds.
Settlement of supplemental school levies.
Reservation for future school facility construction or renovation needs.
Securing and facilitating payments on new school facilities bonds.
Superintendent Jared Jenks said the funds would be used to make a payment on the current bond levy, which was used to fund the new junior high school building. As a result, property owners in the district can expect reduced taxes starting in December.
“Our payment is going to be entirely covered by this bill, so our taxpayers won’t have to contribute anything towards the upcoming school year for the junior high bond,” Jenks said.
Idaho legislators Sen. Doug Ricks and Reps. Britt Raybould and Jon Weber clarified the details of the bill and how it benefits those living in the school district.
Weber said that virtually everyone who paid property tax, whether for their business, farm or as an individual, would experience some level of reduction. Primary homeowners could see their taxes decrease by as much as 25 percent since the largest reductions would go to them.
“If you have a $400,000 home, you would have paid $499 in taxes, and you will now pay zero,” Jenks said, illustrating the impact of the funding. “Essentially, no one is going to contribute taxes toward our school bond for the junior high (for a year).”
In 2019, the $17 million bond to build the school passed with 78 percent of voters in favor — well over the 66.6% needed.
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Ricks noted these savings were for a single year, and the fund’s availability would fluctuate annually. He emphasized the Legislature retained the ability to modify or discontinue the legislation at any time.
Jenks expressed his gratitude to the lawmakers.
“I just want the three of you … to know how much we appreciate what you do for education,” Jenks said. “And we’re thankful to have this opportunity to reduce taxes for our patrons.”
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