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Representative Kraig Powell’s Attempts to End School District Equalization Are Short Sighted

Update: Please read the comments at the bottom of the page. They should provide more clarity into the official stance of Representative Powell.

I had a conversation with a dear friend last night and she raised an interesting thought. She had heard Kraig Powell, who represents some of Park City in the Utah Legislature, on KPCW. Mr Powell was speaking about property tax equalization and how he wanted it overturned. Equalization is the concept where wealthier areas like Park City send some of their tax dollars to other school districts who are less fortunate. Essentially everyone in Park City HATES equalization because Summit County property taxes go out of the district instead of being used on our own children.

Yet my dear friend raised the question of whether Mr. Powell’s quest to end equalization is short sighted. Her argument goes something like this:

  • If the Mr Powell ends equalization then each school district, including Park City, will have to depend solely on their own tax revenues
  • The Park City school system will run out of the ability to raise tax rates to increase its funding in the near future
  • If other areas grow around the state (like Orem and Wasatch County as expected), they could over take Summit County as wealthier counties.
  • If equalization hadn’t been ended by Mr Powell’s efforts, we would have received some money from other counties via equalization, but since it is ended we are stuck with our own revenue
  • With no ability to raise tax rates, the only way to grow property tax revenues is through growth.
  • Growth means more housing and commercial developments which many people are opposed to in Park City.
  • So, if you want to limit growth in Summit County and Park City, you shouldn’t be so quick to jump on the anti-equalization band wagon.

I don’t necessarily agree with her in the short-term. It would be very unlikely that in the next 5 years that Park City would swing from equalizer to equalizee… but 10 years… 15 years… maybe.

It’s at least worth considering.




1. The Utah Constitution requires equal funding which is met through the WPU.
2. Local school districts may increase that spending through local levies.
3. Rep. Powell does not want to end equalization, give him a call to clarify.
4. The discussion is about capital equalization from property tax, not income tax which funds both public ed and higher ed.
5. Some other legislators want PCSD taxpayers to fund their constituents’ public school capital needs in order to keep their local taxes lower, beyond what we already contribute.
6. Rep. Mel Brown is also a good resource for more information on the Legislature’s annual attempts to access more PCSD property tax dollars.
7. Reps. Brown and Powell have both been instrumental in protecting Summit Co. taxpayers from sending additional dollars to districts that will not make the effort to fund their own students before asking the state for more money.
8. School funding in Utah is complex and hard to understand, please call your state representative or PCSD to learn more.
9. Your friend is right about equalization givers and takers with other districts, it has shifted for some districts over the years.
10. Thanks.



Thanks for the great information. I hadn’t listened to the interview (had just had the conversation with my friend); however, I record them all so I went back and listened to Rep Powell’s interview on KPCW.

You are right. It sounds like his position on this (according to that interview) is that he doesn’t want to do away with equalization. He would like to change the formulas used for equalization; however, he is very concerned that if they go down this road, and open this issue up, the Wasatch Front schools could taken even more property tax dollars away from our schools.

So, he thinks the economic growth is about the only way to increase funding for our schools, given the taxing limits we are approaching.

Does my interpretation sound fair, given what you know of the situation?

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