Bountiful City Mayor And Council: Pet Project Priority Precedes People Protection

Who knew? We live in a utopia in Bountiful where there’s no such thing as opportunity cost. Well, at least if you’re a local politician, that is.

This is really a tale about all South Davis mayors and city councils (North Salt Lake, West Bountiful, Woods Cross, Centerville) and applies to many more in state, county  and city governments. I just decided to focus on Bountiful. We will soon be paying more property tax…again. This time we’re on the hook for a higher county tax (~22% increase), library tax (~20% increase), and South Davis Metro Fire tax: Despite push back, Metro tax increase approved. At least it’s only a 4000% increase. No that’s not a type-0.

Here’s the game the cities played. I attended the above meeting. As the Fire Chief noted, about a decade or so ago South Davis cities set up a special fire district. When they did so, they had to set a tax rate, however the initial rate they set would have to be offset by a reduction in city taxes to keep the overall tax burden on citizens the same. So, what did the cities and new district do when faced with funding a core/critical function of government?….. Yep, they set the lowest possible rate so politicians wouldn’t have to man up and cut anything (even temporarily). Then they let things fester for years because they had other big priorities like Recreation Centers, RAP taxes, theaters, plazas and fun attempts at new city halls, skate parks, museums, art centers, street cars and other crap I don’t remember anymore.

A decade or so down the line, surprise! We have ourselves a crisis of fire buildings in disrepair, personnel retention issues, increasing response times (and risk to life) and responders not being able to follow recommended staffing guidelines for emergency response. Well, this is a crisis, indeed and now we need to fix it, ergo 4000% increase.

But there’s a silver lining: since it’s not the initial tax rate, this time the tax rate doesn’t have to be offset by a reduction in city taxes! No, thank goodness young families and the elderly on fixed incomes who account for opportunity cost in family budgets will have to dole out more cash and our local politicians can keep their budgets focused on the important things. I mean, who really wants to be known for telling special interests to pay for their own fun and just funding mundane critical needs like streets, police and fire? Booooring!

No, far better to be known for the special unnecessary neat-o projects you can affix your name to (a legacy!) with fun ceremonies that ignore those who were forced to pay for it all.

 

Addendum: If you read the Clipper article a lady mentioned “Our Schools Now” also barking at our doors for more taxes. Please be aware of the math game they are playing and don’t fall for it.

Bountiful Power Has Regressive Rate Structure, Higher Than Rocky Mountain Power Depending On Usage

I’m playing catch-up, big time. Also, sorry for the long post title. This is a follow-up to my June post (Bountiful City Raising Your Power Rate To Maintain Politician Play Fund) I haven’t had the time to update. This has updated information (thanks to Councilwoman Kendalyn Harris and Jay Christensen, Power Dept. Accountant who also provided the new fee/rate comparison pdf).

First, per Mr. Christensen, they expect $800,000 additional revenue per year (I had estimated a minimum of $700k/year based on census numbers). Secondly, the information pamphlet the city sent out had another bit of vague information. They are not increasing the power rate, they are increasing charges, specifically the monthly customer charge is jumping from $6/month to $10/month (a 66% increase).

I like to compare rates/fees to Rocky Mountain Power (again, remember RMP has to make money to return to shareholders and has higher regulatory overhead costs than Bountiful). Number crunching time.

I looked up RMP rates. They are:

Customer charge: $6/month

May-September
8.8498 cents/kWh for the first 400 kWh
11.5429 cents/kWh next 600 kWh
14.4508 cents/kWh all additional kWh

October-April
8.8498 cents/kWh for the first 400 kWh
10.7072 cents/kWh all additional kWh

Bountiful rates are:

Customer charge $10/month
Bountiful is a flat 9.25 cents/kWh

Per the power department, the average kWh used by Bountiful residents is 850 kWh. To compare to RMP, you have to use a weighted figure:

May-September
(8.8498*400)+(11.5429*450)/850 = 10.2756 cents/kWh (11% higher than Bountiful)

October-April
(8.8498*400)+(10.7072*450)/850 = 9.8331  cents/kWh (6% higher than Bountiful)

Customer charge: Bountiful is significantly higher: 66% higher ($10/$6). Ouch.

HOWEVER, besides the significantly higher customer charge, note that if you are a low power consumer (I am), you are paying more by using Bountiful Power. If you use around 400 kWh or less, you’re looking at a ~5% higher bill plus the higher customer charge. In effect, Bountiful’s structure is a regressive structure which comparatively hits low power consumers (likely low-mid income brackets) harder than high power users.

South Davis Taxpayers Tapped To Pay For Politician, Special Interest Spending

I’m going to keep this short and simple. We have another tax increase we’re being told is necessary. This time it’s actually for something that is a core government function. From the Clipper article (Tax increase meant to benefit residents, firefighters):

Last week the South Davis Metro Fire Agency proposed a property tax increase to cover critical needs in staffing and equipment.  Some residents may be asking why since there was already an increase last year.

As I Gabbed when I saw the article:

If tax increase is so critical, why did #BountifulCity and so many other cities blow tax money on oodles of stuff outside the scope of core government functions?

Normally, I would vote for this increase. Not this time. City politicians can cut some of their pet projects’ funding and forgo other pet projects (city hall, plaza, RAP tax, theaters, rec centers, etc. etc….) first. They blab about the urgency they themselves create by tapping us out for their wasteful projects and the non core government projects special interests convince them they “need”. If it’s so urgent, lets see them drop a couple these “skunks” just like a family has to cut some fluff when a pressing issue comes up.

UPDATE: See my latest post on the outcome of the tax.

Doubling Dose Of Utah Corporate Welfare For Amazon.com

In January, I noted the sweetheart deal Governor Herbert had dished out to Amazon. It amounted to Amazon getting a cut of the tax revenue they collect by charging tax to Utah residents. I concluded:

…Amazon is collecting the tax and is getting a kickback that I don’t believe any brick-and-mortar or Utah online company receives…

Herbert and his cohorts heralded this as some great thing. I guess crony capital is so good, they felt like giving Amazon more of it. In June they announced:

…[Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development] GOED’s board voted to approve $5.7 million in economic incentives to lure the online company here.

Amazon collected their kickback to build a facility here in Utah. This means Bezos was ablet to double dip tax payers by getting a kickback for collecting and the bribe incentive for building here. As I noted on Gab at the time, this should be an embarassement:

Lemme get this right: In 2016, #Utah gives #Amazon sweatheart tax kickback deal unavailable to local retailers if they collect tax on UT residents. Now, Amazon will have location in Utah & have to collect tax anyway.

It sure sounds like Bezos played Herbert: he get’s a tax collection kickback then dupes us for $5.7 mil to build a facility which would require him to collect the tax anyway. Likely, Herbert etc were willing accomplices. This is the type of crap I would like to see end. States are competing with each other to entice corporate welfare business to their state by offering “incentives” on taxpayers’ and local retailers’ backs. It is something the Feds actually have constitutional authority to put a stop to and I wish they would look into doing so.

 


Addendum: As I said in June, I quit directly buying from Amazon and it’s worked great. I was given some Amazon gift cards so I bought stuff from 3rd party retailers on the site (I’m not just going to give Amazon the $ by not using the card) and have found that many 3rd party retailers have their own sites that offer the same product they’re selling on Amazon cheaper. Plus, I found many online and even local retailers match Amazon prices. I’ve always tried to support the local retailers and this has just furthered it. I encourage you to spend money in your local area, it makes a big difference (especially in rural areas where the internet seems to have really harmed the local mom & pop shops that used to exist in the small towns). Don’t boycott, buycott.

Senator Bramble and Stan Lockhart In News Over Suspicious Political Behavior (Update)

Every once in a while, I check out Utah Standard News. This week I caught a report about some possible unethical, if not criminal intrigue at the Utah County and State GOP conventions.

Some of the actors are the “usual suspects” for me. I’ve written before on the cozy relationship between State Senator Curt Bramble and Stan Lockhart. I’ve also noted Bramble’s Chicago-style political ‘tactics’ (click here for all posts on Bramble). This may well be another example of such.

I’m only going to put a very small excerpt of the article here as it would be best to read the entire article (read to the end for the big stuff). Ultimately, the charges should be investigated and verified as what may have occurred strikes to the heart of the caucus system (which I’m a big proponent of) and integrity of the Utah County and State GOP as a whole.

Caucus Obstruction, Delegate Tampering & Voter Fraud in Utah County

In what could be the biggest scandal in the Utah GOP of the past decade, this tale of corruption involves two sitting Utah State Senators (Curt Bramble & Deidre Henderson), the new Utah County GOP Chair Robert Craig, legislative district officers, precinct chairs, and state delegates. Their activities include clear and blatant infractions of the GOP Constitution and Bylaws and could result in a multiple criminal investigations and charges of voter fraud.

EDIT: I just finished typing up the above and checked back on the USN website and there’s a follow-up article: UPDATE Part 2 : Caucus, Delegate & Voter Tampering. New info. Evidence. YAK info. Be sure to read it in full too – it includes some additional information along with some more personal reports of ‘anomalies’ along the lines of the first article and some possible better perspective on Sen. Henderson. Again, this stuff should be investigated and verified.

Obviously, some are having conniptions about it and State Senator Todd Weiler (Davis County) is on threatening the publisher with libel:

I know you’re the messenger, Ed Wallace. At least one of the people you lied about called me tonight for legal advice on a libel lawsuit. Hope you’ve got good insurance!

While I’ve found Weiler to be nice and polite in person (the couple of times I’ve met him), I’ve noticed he’s disrespectful, derisive and condescending online. Par for the course.

UPDATE: USN has posted another follow-up: FINAL UPDATE Caucus, Delegate & Voter Tampering. INCLUDING EVIDENCE.

UPDATE II: This is exactly why the caucus is so important and any potential corruption thereof must be investigated. Chris Herrod probably wouldn’t have had a prayer as he isn’t an establishment/donor class favorite. Thanks to the caucus and neighbors representing their areas and vetting candidates, he now has a chance:
Utah GOP delegates pick candidate to replace Congressman Jason Chaffetz

He still has to make it through a primary and I doubt he’ll be favored by the establishment GOP. Check him out and consider helping him out.

Bountiful City Raising Your Power Rate To Maintain Politician Play Fund (Update)

EDIT: Bountiful Power sent me information that changes some items in this post: The $4/month increase is a customer charge increase (not your actual kWh rate) and they expect about $800,000 in additional revenue/year. To view some comparisons to Rocky Mountain Power and the outcome of this change see my recent post on this.

About a week ago, I noted the city had come out with its annual spin on bilking you on your power rates. This week, they doubled down and are sending you a glossy four page ad (with more ridiculous “investing” spin) about your rates going up $4/month. As I noted last week, the city is already transferring $2.45 Million from the city power department (by overcharging you on power). So what does $4/month come out to per year in extra cash the city politicians can play with?

Well, per the 2010 census, Bountiful had 14,504 households in it (since that’s seven years ago, but I’ll be conservative and stick with that number). Therefore, $4/month X 12 months X 14,504 households = $696,192 extra cash flowing to the city.

That’s a minimum figure as the city has grown since 2010 and I believe rates will also go up for churches, charities, and businesses in Bountiful. Supposedly, the increase will go to infrastructure improvements but don’t be surprised if next year’s transfer from the city power dept. magically increases as well. So rather than use part of their $2.45 annual fund, they’ll take at least $696K more from families, churches, small businesses…etc. Priorities, priorities.

The city admits they use the power company in lieu of taxes for a revenue stream. Thus, by playing with rates, they can do two things: 1) Evade truth-in-taxation law and 2) Claim the city has the lowest taxes for its size the state (AKA bait-and-switch).

If the city wants to continue to manipulate your power rate, they should be brought under Public Service Commission oversight and if they want to continue the laughable claim that you’re an “investor” and this is a “dividend” they should also comply with SEC filings just as Rocky Mountain Power must. Personally, I would rather see this entire ‘municipal power as de facto taxing entity’ practice banned.

For all posts related to Bountiful Power, click here.

UPDATE: It just sunk in that this power rate hike is permanent (I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed…). The increased revenue is an annual income to the city. That means the city is really effectively raising taxes on everyone (to the tune of at least $696K per year). With that juicy new revenue stream, I find it much harder to believe we won’t see the power fund transfer to city coffers jump (even if the funds are initially used for infrastructure improvements).

Next, on the pamphlet, under the new solar customer rates section (bottom of last page), it appears solar customers will have a 9.25 cents/kWh rate when they use power. The concern that raises for me is 9.25 cents/kWh is the current rate. Does that mean everyone else will face a higher rate (due to the increase) while solar folks get the old (current) rate? That sounds like they’re getting an additional subsidy. I am not cool with that at all IF that is the case but the pamphlet unclear.
EDIT: See the note at the top of this post. As this was a customer charge increase kWh rates are not affected, thus traditional and solar customers still pay the same rate for power.

Finally, I find it a ironic and annoying that I got the information which encourages citizen feedback after the city council meeting (on Tuesday) was held and the vote taken. I’m willing to bet the rate increase was approved. I’ll update this post when I find out.

Chamber Of Commerce Front Group “OurSchoolsNow” Employs Math Spin For Tax Increase (Update)

I’ll keep this brief. First, OurSchoolsNow is yet another in the litanny of Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce political front groups bent on raising economic burdens on Utah families. The latest gambit will be yet another “why do you hate school children?” guilt trip against those opposed to the tax increase. They’ll couple this with a quiet bit of math spin on the actual percent tax increase and neglect to mention the increase doesn’t apply to them (surprise!). They spin it as a 7/8% increase on you. No it’s not:

The first shot in this effort to raise individual income taxes by a whopping 18% from 5% to 5.875% while leaving all business taxes, including the 5% corporate income tax, unchanged was fired when the elites formally announced a petition drive to raise the individual income tax…

The real math equates to: 5.875/5 = 18% increase in rate. Again, note that the Chamber was sure to exempt the business tax rates*. People caught on to that and now they’ve moved on to a “1/2% increase” on two taxes (sales and income) still exempting themselves from an increase. The 1/2% is, yet again, a misnomer. Here’s the breakdown:

Income tax rate increase: 5.5/5 = 10% increase
Sales tax increase (5.95% is the State base rate and 6.45% would be the new rate) = 6.45/5.95 = 8.4% increase

Interestingly, added together thats about 18% again, however, the actual burden of the sales tax increase depend on how much you spend. Futhermore besides exempting themselves from the tax, Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) caught on that the Chamber didn’t appear all that willing to get rid of tax subsidies they gorge on…funds that could’ve gone to schools (#ourschoolsnow stop campaigning to increase tax burden & focus on multiple subsidies robbing Ed budget”):

All this does is heap additional burdens on Utah families to keep the crony capital trough full, while virtue signalling they caaaare so much about children. The Utah swamp could use some draining.

UPDATE: Libertas is also calling out the Our Schools Now bunk and Libetas’ Connor Boyack also makes note of the “politically connected insiders” pushing this boondogle.

*FWIW: I’m not a big fan of raising corporate rates – those are essentially just passed on to consumers anyway via increased product cost which can reduces sales (hence why the Chamber of Crony Capitalists exempt themselves).