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.

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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.

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 $2.49 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.

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.
EDIT II (8/17): The last utility bill letter included a “Follow-up Notice To Bountiful City Utility Customers”. The notice disclosed that the transfer from the power dept. is actually $2.49 Million ($40,000 more) than the prior notice. The new amount represents “7.8% of the total budgeted expenditures in the Light & Power fund.” I’ve updated the amount above.

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 $2.49 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.

EDIT (8/17): The last utility bill letter included a “Follow-up Notice To Bountiful City Utility Customers”. The notice disclosed that the transfer from the power dept. is actually $2.49 Million ($40,000 more) than the prior notice. The new amount represents “7.8% of the total budgeted expenditures in the Light & Power fund.” I’ve updated the amount above.

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.