Since its founding in 1922, the Utah Taxpayers Association has cautioned that government should not be in the business of business.
For over two decades, mostly under the radar of taxpayers, local governments have marched down the perilous road of borrowing and spending taxpayer dollars to launch government owned fiber networks. Despite often disastrous results, elected officials continue to burden future office holders and taxpayers with long term consequences that will only come to fruition long after current officeholders are gone. The countless examples of losses for taxpayers are ignored to reap short term popularity and re-election.
Even in Utah, where fiscal responsibility typically outshines poor results, there are stark examples of taxpayer losses on these projects. After spending nearly $40 million to build a city owned network in Provo, city leaders sold the network for $1 to Google Fiber. Those losses are still being paid off today. Congressman John Curtis (UT-03) recounted the story and reminded everyone why government does not belong in the fiber network business. In addition to that, a Utah local government backed fiber entity, UTOPIA, now has a negative net worth of over -$300 million after struggling for two decades.
It is time to change the paradigm in Utah before it is too late. Rather than continuing to only speak out against these efforts as they appear, the Utah Taxpayers Association is asking city council members and other elected officials to proactively look forward and pledge in public to vote against any effort of this kind. This will help ensure that future generations of elected officials and taxpayers are not left to clean up the mess from those who forget the lessons of history.
Elected officials who demonstrate the foresight and courage to do what is right for their constituents and taxpayers should be supported. The Utah Taxpayers Association asks any and all organizations and individuals to join in that effort.
The Utah Taxpayers Association salutes those elected officials who have already shown leadership on this issue and signed the pledge. The Association will be talking to elected officials all over Utah about this initiative. More information can be found here: https://utahtaxpayers.org/pledge/