The Vernal man claims Uintah County’s school officials broke open session laws by voting on a tax hike
A Vernal man is suing Uintah County’s school district and its school board, claiming they failed to make a proper public notice and fail to solicit comments before approving the 2017-2018 district budget, which included a $ 3 tax increase , Included $ 5 million.
James Drollinger filed a complaint in the 8th District Court on Friday alleging the district had violated Utah’s Open and Public Gatherings Act on several counts and sought to void the June 20 budget approval.
“Due to the poor and inadequate announcement of the hearing,” the lawsuit states, “Uintah County residents, including Drollinger, have been denied the opportunity to be heard and to make public comments on the proposed budget.”
Attempts on Tuesday to contact Drollinger through his lawyers on the case were unsuccessful.
District Superintendent Mark Dockins said Tuesday he was unable to comment on the claims of the lawsuit pending litigation but defended the district’s compliance with open session laws.
“The Uintah School District believes in the public’s right to information and is working diligently to conduct all of the district’s business in accordance with state open record laws,” he said. “We look forward to presenting our case to court if necessary.”
State open meeting laws require the school board to hold a public opinion hearing on their proposed budgets prior to approval.
Drollinger claims in his lawsuit that the district did not publicly disclose enough that its budget would be reached at the business meeting in question on Jan.
A notice released on May 30 did not include the meeting’s agenda, says Drollinger, nor details of the online budget review. The board nonetheless passed the proposed budget, which included a planned tax increase of $ 3.5 million.
When the public learned of the approval, Drollinger said, many attended the panel’s next meeting and expressed significant concern about the budget and tax hike. However, the budget was already approved. “
Drollinger’s lawsuit seeks to invalidate the board vote and reclaim “reasonable attorney fees and expenses.”