With fall quickly approaching, it’s time for voters to educate themselves about the variety of state and local ballot issues they’ll be voting on this November. Your Taxpayers Association is following Amendment A at the State level, and local ballot issues in Eagle Mountain, Farmington, Logan and Salt Lake County.
Vote FOR Amendment A
During the 2014 Legislature, your Taxpayers Association worked with Senator John Valentine to secure passage of SJR 7 (Joint Resolution Regarding Qualifications of State Tax Commission Members), which will appear on the statewide ballot this November as Amendment A. As detailed in last month’s edition of The Utah Taxpayer, Amendment A removes party affiliation restrictions on otherwise qualified candidates for the State Tax Commission. Taxpayers deserve highly qualified Tax Commissioners and partisan politics shouldn’t intrude on the Tax Commission’s work. Vote FOR Amendment A.
Support Eagle Mountain’s Utility Privatization
Since its founding nearly 20 years ago, Eagle Mountain has owned and operated its own electric and natural gas utilities. The debt burden the city assumed to build these systems has weighed heavily on every budget the city has adopted, and translated into some of the highest utility rates in Utah County.
In August the City Council voted 4-1 to sell these utilities to private providers. Questar will purchase the natural gas utility, while Rocky Mountain Power is scheduled to purchase the electric utility. Before the city can complete those transactions, voters will have the opportunity to apply their stamp of approval.
Consistent with the Association’s long-standing preference for private providers of goods and services that can be found in a phonebook, your Taxpayers Association is encouraging Eagle Mountain voters to support the sale of these utilities to the private sector. Private providers will bring greater efficiency and relieve taxpayers of the utilities’ debt burdens.
Oppose Boutique Sales Taxes in Farmington, Salt Lake County and Logan
Cities adopt boutique sales taxes or “RAP taxes” to guarantee a revenue stream for a variety of spending priorities, typically associated with recreation, arts and parks (RAP). This guaranteed revenue stream makes RAP taxes poor policy. Rather than allowing these “guaranteed” priorities to compete against other potentially more important spending priorities, RAP taxes fund these condoned priorities regardless of their relative merits.
For example, budget shortfalls may force a city to lay off essential police officers, while RAP tax spending priorities still receive a guaranteed funding stream. This may skew budget priorities away from more important needs and keep the governing body from making rational decisions.
Because adopting a RAP tax is such bad policy, the Legislature requires voters to approve a RAP tax before it takes effect. Farmington City is asking voters to approve a RAP tax this fall, and your Taxpayers Association opposes it, just as we oppose the reauthorization of similar boutique taxes currently proposed by Salt Lake County and Logan.
Oppose Farmington City’s $6 million Parks and Recreation Bond
Farmington City is asking its citizens to approve a $6 million parks and recreation bond to build a grass field with a large adjacent gym. The city claimed to have arranged the financing for new soccer fields years ago, and the city already has some large, vacant buildings that used to be gyms. Nevertheless, city officials have gone so far as to claim they’ll end all recreation programs if the bond doesn’t pass citizen approval this November.
Farmington City’s population has grown tremendously over the past decade and a half. City park use and recreation program participation has ballooned along with the population. However, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget anticipates much slower growth in Farmington over the next several decades. Building new, larger recreation facilities designed with the assumption that Farmington will continue the same growth trajectory as the past decade is foolishness. Vote against Farmington’s parks and recreation bond.