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.

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

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.

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.

Happy Anniversary! Its Time For Bountiful City To Spin Ripping You Off On Power

Good news: Your anniversary present comes dressed in a beautiful evening gown with stunning lipstick…too bad it’s a pig.

Exactly a year ago, I posted my annual note about Bountiful flimflamming residents on residents getting overcharged for power. This year, the city sent out the same, boiled over sophistry ($2.45 Million in overcharges the city keeps = a “dividend”/”investment”) in a letter that came with your power bill. [Edit: Be sure to look at my 2015 post on the investor/dividend distortion]

This year I’m going to save my limited free time and not rehash how the city’s spin is phony. For that, look at last year’s post (and the year before that…and the year before that…) or click on the Bountiful Power tag for all things related to the city’s (ab)use of their power department as a surrogate taxing entity to skirt truth-in-taxation (and yes, even in the letter, the city admits “…what otherwise would be a significant increase in property taxes”).

‘Till next year.

Time For Utah To Declare Entitlement Addiction A Public Health Crisis?

I recently stumbled across this article by Dennis Prager:

Entitlements: The Most Dangerous Addiction

There is one addiction, however, that might be more difficult than any other to escape – in part because it is not even regarded as an addiction. It is Entitlements Addiction, an addiction to getting something for nothing.

One indication as to the power of Entitlements Addiction is that, while great numbers of people have voluntarily given up – almost always at great pain – drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc., few give up an addiction to entitlements. For the majority of able-bodied people who get cash payments, food stamps, subsidized housing, free or subsidized health insurance, and other welfare benefits, the thought of giving up any one of those and beginning to pay for them with their own earned money is as hard as giving up alcohol is to an alcoholic.

Politicians know this, which is why it is close to impossible to ever reduce entitlements. And, of course, the Left knows this, which is why the Left almost always wins any debate over entitlements. Every American who is the beneficiary of an entitlement backs entitlements, and many who are not beneficiaries of entitlements would like to be.

Read the whole thing.

Anyway, the article got me thinking: Last year, Utah State Senator Todd Weiler passed a bill declaring pornography a public health crisis which was subsequently signed by Governor Herbert. This year, Herbert signed Weiler’s bill passed by the legislature allowing you to sue porn makers if a minor has been injured.

Any chance a Utah Legislature and the Governor would support a bill identifying entitlement addiction as a public health crisis or is that an approved addiction so long as the GOP/Democrats are acting as a dealer?…

Utah’s Sanctuary Link To An Illegal Immigrant Cop Killer

During President Trump’s address to Congress, he had the widows of Officers Michael Davis and Danny Oliver in attendance. An illegal immigrant, Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte (aka Marcelo Marquez), had murdered them.

Looking up the case, one finds a Utah link of neglected opportunities in CBS Sacremento’s article “How Did Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte Hide In United States Illegally Until Deputy Killings?” Apparently, Mr. Bracamonte was a return client to law enforcement and the revolving border door:

Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte had a lot to hide. He was living in the United States illegally, had been convicted in Arizona for selling drugs and twice deported to Mexico.

Eventually, he and his wife moved from Arizona and settled in West Valley City. However, he still had brushes with the law:

A search of Utah court records for Marcelo Marquez shows a history of about 10 tickets and misdemeanor traffic offenses between 2003 and 2009, which typically don’t trigger a fingerprint check against immigration records. The records list one speeding ticket in 2009 and three small claims filings attempting to collect outstanding debts.

One of the traffic offenses was more than a minor parking ticket, it was a hit-and-run:

Police in West Valley City, Utah, said they took a fingerprint from a man using the name Marcelo Marquez during a misdemeanor hit-and-run arrest in 2003.

However, Utah authorities say fingerprints from such suspects are not regularly entered into a database that would flag other arrests in the US or deportations.

Fortunately, Utah is an accommodating State for illegal immigrants. Salt Lake City Police Chiefs consistently and explicitly state that they refuse to enforce immigration law. Meanwhile, the LDS Church monetarily assists illegal immigrants (via fast offerings), pushes “compacts” intended to lead to amnesty, and lobbies the state legislature to pass clearly unconstitutional legislation (among it’s myriad of flaws).

The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce (via Senator Curt Bramble “Bramnesty”), in an apparent lust for cheap labor, heads up efforts at the Utah legislature as well for the aforementioned legislation and fights tooth-and-nail to block legislation that would address enforcement or even identity theft prevention measures like E-Verify (illegal immigrants frequently engage in employment-related ID theft, leaving victims in their wake).

This welcoming sanctuary coupled with flouting established law has consequences. In this case, enforcement officers bore those consequences:

Two deputies who approached the pickup while it was parked alongside a road were shot with an AR-15-type assault weapon, police said. Homicide Detective Michael David Davis Jr., 42, died at a hospital.

Despite being illegally in the United States and a convicted felon, Bracomonte, aka Marquez, had illegally obtained a firearm  and, despite multiple police stops while he was using his Driving Privilege Card which clearly identified him as someone who could not provide proof of legal presence in the United States,  no law enforcement officer saw fit to check with or hold him for immigration authorities nor even run his fingerprints. After all, they were just following the policy established by their police chiefs and elected officials. However, had just one officer checked his immigration status or entered his fingerprints in the above database, he could have been incarcerated for illegal re-entry and two lives would have been saved.

It’s no wonder the Mexican Consulate plans on aiding illegal immigrants in Utah with legal assistance to fight deportation. If you were Mexico, would you want someone like Mr. Bracamonte/Marquez to ‘come home’? No, especially when you have a state and with leaders so willing to enable his presence and turn a politically-correct blind eye to his crimes and the victims left behind.

Bountiful Halts City Hall Project For Now, Looks To Keep Plaza Boondoggle

Some good news. The Bountiful City Council has pulled back and stopped the new city hall project and will shortly cancel the contracts for it. From the Better Bountiful group that opposed the project:

The Better Bountiful Committee and its many supporters welcome the Bountiful City Council’s decision to cancel their plans to build a new city hall.  The City Council and Mayor have heard the voices of the people and will now invest funds to properly maintain our current City Hall rather than abandon it.  That is a decision we welcome.   We particularly appreciate those City leaders who took the time to listen and discuss the matter with us.

All major plans involving taxpayers’ money are always best accomplished when citizens are allowed a voice at the ballot box. We assume the City Council will apply that principle to the proposed Downtown City Plaza, major infrastructure improvements, and all other similar plans going forward.

The city council also sent out a release citing the reason for the cancellation was to “promote community harmony over the new building.” Hopefully that’s the case but I doubt the motives are so pure. As Fox 13 notes: “The lawsuit was the tipping point for the city.” The city council also held a special (previously unscheduled) closed session meeting to discus “pending litigation” on February 21 (6 days before the release).

The city council plans on continuing with the next pet project (the plaza) and certainly doesn’t appear to embrace Better Bountiful’s request that residents be able to vote on it: “The Downtown Plaza will also remain a priority, and will require a new contract to complete.” They continue to justify this by saying it’ll ‘revitalize Main Street’. People aren’t going to go shop there because of a cute plaza or gleaming city hall and Main St. isn’t in disrepair (it’s a pretty, quaint area). Besides locals, Main St. is a hassle to get to and doesn’t have any store(s) to draw significant traffic to the area. It will remain a local shopping area unless something drastic happens (think huge project redeveloping a massive area and road infrastructure). The constant pet projects gambits justified by saying “revitalize Main St.” are tiring.

I’ve said it many times. Politicians don’t give up on pet project easily. They won’t hear either. I’m glad the new city hall was stopped but one to point one last thing out: Milton Friedman continues to be proven right, these unnecessary pet projects rarely fail despite opposition. As Better Bountiful notes:

This outcome is a reflection of many hundreds of hours of hard work, many thousands of dollars, and some of the best community teamwork…

Read the above linked post and you’ll understand why that quote proves Friedman right despite this being one of the rare successes by “diffused interests”. If you don’t see the connection, drop a comment or use the contact page.

In the meantime, enjoy the success. Ultimately, the only way to have a lasting success is to elect local/state/national representatives who respect limiting government to core functions.

Food: A New Sin Tax For Utah?

That’s right. I’m going to say it again: Food is perfectly eligible as a sin tax.

…and by sin, I’m referring to the politician’s and crony organizations’ sin.

Utah legislators are contemplating raising taxes on food because they’re worried about a budget shortfall. It’s funny how that may be the case after we’ve spent, bonded and redirected who knows how many millions or billions on crap outside the proper role of government. I guess all those cute ‘it only costs a tenth/half percent of the budget or it’s just a few dollars a day’ projects add up and you start to fall short for important stuff…like more useless projects government shouldn’t be involved with.

Rather than just slapping everyone with another tax hike, maybe they should look at cutting some of the crony capital junk (UTA, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce front group boondoggles come to mind, among others). How about also ditching wasteful incremental budgeting with all it’s skunks, while your at it?

On the local level, we keep hearing that RDAs for a new, unnecessary city hall building won’t raise taxes. As I said in the past, it’s robing Peter to pay Paul and the piper will come calling when taxing entities find they’ve fallen short of money because the RDA etc. ate some of it up. The above is another example of the fallacy of the city council’s argument.

Finally, politicians don’t own all the guilt. The public (you and I) will band together to form groups demanding stuff like recreation centers, theaters, RAP taxes which impose on budgets and, ultimately, on families. Hopefully, we’ll consider the propriety and whether it’s a core governmental function or not next time we want something, else we’re our own worst enemy.