After operating for around two decades, Utah’s foray into Government Owned Fiber Networks, UTOPIA, has managed to dig itself into a more than -$298 million hole (see 2021 financial statement, page 5). In addition to that, UTOPIA continues to bleed every year with expenses clocking in at about $15 million more than revenues. There appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel and if history is any guide, taxpayers will someday be asked to save this sinking ship.
Despite that bleak picture, UTOPIA continues to court city councils and expand their footprint. Having opened up a shiny new credit card under a different organizational name- UIA, yet still operating as the mirror image of UTOPIA, proponents of this hobbled effort give the impression that it is all sunshine and lollipops in the land of government owned fiber networks. However, they will need to modify the sales pitch they have been using.
On May 31st, the Office of the State Auditor published a letter finding that UTOPIA had used misleading statements in marketing materials. A brochure was circulating with the claim that it was at “No cost to taxpayers since 2009”. Anyone who has followed this saga knows that is completely false.
The State Auditor has instructed UTOPIA to:
-Destroy the marketing materials
-Ensure future communications more accurately reflect the dependence on taxpayer support
-Take steps to remedy the misrepresentations regarding the lack of taxpayer support to any individual or entity which received the inaccurate information
The Utah Taxpayers Association commends the Utah State Auditor for setting the record straight and ensuring accurate information is given about the dependence on taxpayer support UTOPIA has relied upon. As UTOPIA’s negative net worth soon crests over the $300 million mark, we urge city councils to reject plans to jump aboard this sinking ship.
You can read the letter HERE.