The Bountiful City Council is poised to pursue recommending tax increase on the November ballot. Likely they used this vapid, boilerplate resolution provided to them from the Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULCT – a tax-funded municipal lobbying group that lobbies the legislature to increase you taxes – go figure).
Basically, if they are able to pass the tax increase, UTA (Utah Transit Authority) will get 40% of it for improving their service (…and free up funding for more outrageous executive bonuses). Meanwhile cities get 40% of the take and counties get 20%. Effectively, the legislature set this scheme up so everyone get’s a juicy kickback by getting this thing passed. As one person I know put it: Imagine if the city were to agree with Comcast to slap a fee on every homeowner for Comcast internet improvements under the agreement that Comcast will give the city/county 20-40% of the fee?
Of course, if Comcast and the city rigged a deal like this, there would be an investigation and things would not be pretty. However, since government and a government-spronsored private organization (UTA) is involved, this is somehow kosher.
This tax will be on top of several new, and proposed 2015 taxes/fees (note there may be more, these are just off the top of my head):
- Statewide property tax increase of $46/average home ($250K, I think) (SB97)
- State gas tax increase (now 12% which also automatically increases the revenue as wholesale price increases up to a threshold of $0.40/gallon (HB362)
- Directed by the Utah Legislature (SJR6) Chaffetz has proposed a law that would require all online businesses to collect Utah sales tax from Utah citizens
Fortunately for cities, ULCT (along with Utah Chamber of Crony Capitalists-afilliated groups and front organizations) is going to help cities with the get-out-the-vote campaign (see the “When” section). Based on the aforementioned resolution and linked document, cities are likely to make hay of their road maintenance shortfall to convince you to spit up 40% overhead to UTA. Quite frankly, the shortfall is of their own doing – if they would’ve focused on core government functions instead of pet projects like recreation centers, theater for plays, art displays/festivals, special-interest museums, etc (see the tags linked above). Maybe it’s time they check their priorities and adjust such first before further burdening families.
Unfortunately, for those who expect some fiscal responsibility and oppose these intra-governmental kickback schemes, things will be tough. The above crony groups will use their coffers to swamp the media with ads etc as they will see a return on investment (at your expense) and attack opponents as ‘miserly’ for such a small increase (again, ignore the other increases this is heaped on). Plus, they also have the advantage of the “Concentrated versus Diffuse Interests” effect so eloquently identified by Milton & Rose Friedman many years ago.
Good times ahead, or something.
UPDATE (8/18): The Davis County Commission voted to stick the measure on the ballot:
The motion was unanimous with votes from Commissioners.
Milburn – on the UTA Board of Trustees.
Smith – CEO of Davis Chamber of Commerce – Chambers are involved in PR for the tax increase (see my above link), I’m betting Davis Chamber will chip in too…
Petroff who stated: “putting the sales tax increase on the ballot is not a hard decision for me.”
UPDATE (10/17): The ballot proposal is known as Proposition 1 (“Prop 1”). Please vote NO on this most recent piece of crony capitalism (see also today’s post: Prop 1: Funding The UTA Money Pit With Government Kickbacks).
UPDATE (2016): For historical reference, Bountiful’s City Council passed the “vapid resolution” unanimously on June 23, 2015.