Elected officials in Davis County profess to be conservatives, but the record shows otherwise. In fact, at a time of unprecedented economic growth, rapidly rising tax revenues and record surpluses, Davis County “conservatives” continue to increase taxes and to expand government spending and programs at an unprecedented rate.
Since 2002, Davis officials have proposed multiple tax increases. A partial list of these includes:
* 2002 — County commissioners proposed a 138 percent property tax increase and eventually enacted a 24 percent increase ($152 per year on a $163,000 home).
* 2004 — After “conservative” state legislators authorized the creation of special-recreation districts, the “conservative” county commissioners and mayors in South Davis County created the South Davis Recreation District and implemented a new property tax ($52 per year on $180,000 homes).
* 2004 — A Davis County RAP tax supported by mayors across the county was placed on the ballot by county commissioners and defeated by the voters.
* 2004 — The school district increased property taxes in order to get Legislature-approved matching funds for reading programs ($12 per year on a $167,000 home).
* 2006 — 1.25 percent tourism tax enacted by commissioners after state legislators gave them the authority to raise taxes.
* 2006 — Mosquito Abatement District property tax increase approved ($2.50 per year on a $171,000 home).
* 2006 — 37 percent property tax increase passed by Commissioner Alan Hansen and two lame duck commissioners while commissioners-elect P. Bret Milburn and Louenda H. Downs gave their tacit approval by their silence. ($60 per year on a $171,000 home).
* 2007 — $10 vehicle registration fee increase enacted by county commissioners with encouragement of state legislators.
* 2007 — School district proposes a $35 per year property tax increase on a $230,000 home — again for reading programs — in order to get legislator-approved matching funds.
* 2007 — .1 percent RAP sales tax placed on ballot by county commissioners at request of mayors and with authorization granted by legislators.
* 2007 — .25 percent sales tax increase placed on ballot by county commissioners, authorized and encouraged to do so by state legislators.
As can be seen from above, Davis County state legislators take the Pontius Pilate approach to tax increases. They provide authorization and incentives for other elected officials to increase taxes, and then they wash their hands of the whole matter.
At the county level, prior to the Republican convention, all county commission candidates, including Bret Millburn and Louenda Downs, were asked to sign the CitizensForTaxFairness.org’s “No New Tax Pledge,” but they refused. That was a warning sign of things to come.
Immediately after they were elected, Millburn and Downs chose to sit silently by while lame-duck commissioners increased taxes by 37 percent over citizens’ strong objections. They could have spoken out against the increases, but they didn’t. In the seven months since taking office, they have raised fees and approved putting multiple tax increases on the November ballot.
When assessed property values exploded, leading to huge property tax increases, Commissioner Downs told Davis County citizens, “I’ve been in office since January. I was blindsided by what happened with these valuations.” At a salary of $100,000 per year, plus a car allowance and additional payments for serving on boards, one would think that commissioners would be paying closer attention to something as fundamental as property valuations and the county budget.
Let’s face facts: Our current “conservative leaders” no longer respect taxpayers but treat them as a never-ending source of new revenue for the continuing expansion of government.
It is time that citizens stand up and say enough is enough. If our elected officials are unable to voluntarily control their tax and spend addiction, we will vote them out of office and we will enact, for lack of a better term, a Proposition 13 with strict tax-and-spending limitations.