A few days ago, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted to kill HB 48 (Amendments to the Tourism, Recreation,Cultural, Convention, and Airport Facilities Tax Act). Davis County Representatives Sheryl Allen and Julie Fisher voted to kill the bill. The room was filled with local (cities and counties). When the vote came down, they cheered and were asked by the chair to “…please maintain semblance”.
If the bill was given a chance, it would have prevented the local governments from abusing the aforementioned taxes to raise additional bonds (debts). Often, these bonds are used (abused) for pet projects government officials or special interest groups favor. One Davis County examples includes the South Davis Recreation Center and the local theatre
(Rogers Memorial now dubbed “Davis Cultural Arts Center”).
Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that the taxes are payed by non-residents. The restaurant tax is paid by anyone going to the establishment. Unless you live in an airport, residents are the predominant customers at local restaurants. It’s just another method used by local governments to justify a tax increase by attempting to spin it as only affecting travelers. Then, during groundbreaking ceremonies, mayors exclude taxpayers from those they thank in their speeches.
Clearly, Utah’s local government officials want to keep their slush fund spigot flowing even if it requires the use of debt financing on taxpayers’ backs.
Currently, our nation is faced with ever increasing debts and runaway government spending. While a backlash (such as the tea party movement) has begun at the national level, one can only hope that attention is also afforded the local level.