BOLO: Bountiful City’s 2020 Power and Landfill Fund Transfer (Hiddent Taxes) And Warning To Watch For Increases

It’s time for my annual May post about Bountiful City City Council and Mayor continuing to manipulate power rates to over charge citizens/power users so they can claim we have low taxes and hide the true cost of local government. Last year, the city raided $2.5 million from the power fund into the general fund. This year they’ve increased the transfer $250,000 for a total of $2.75 million likely aided by the 67% customer charge increase and new street light fee over the last couple of years.

This post likely also launches an ongoing annual post documenting the Bountiful City Council and Mayor employing the same tactic related to your garbage bill to cloak recycling costs. This year, they will increase the transfer from the landfill budget to the recycling fund by about 6% to $127,595 (up from $120,000). This transfer/bailout began last year but they’ve learned well from power fund game and appear to plan to do this in perpetuity (there’s no such thing as a ‘temporary government program’).

With the Chicom virus pandemic wreaking havoc on family budgets and affecting tax revenues, be on the lookout for the city to manipulate power rates, customer fees and/or garbage service fees to cover some of their revenue shortfalls rather than being transparent and going through truth-in-taxation requirements to justify increasing taxes (revenue).

I’ve been tracking this issue for longer than I would like to admit. I have scant time this year so this post is lacking in background/details. For more information/posts on power cost manipulations, click here or the “Bountiful Power” tag and click here or the “Recycling” tag to bring up the plethora of (better detailed) posts on these issues.

UPDATE: I picked a good day to post this apparently. From today’s NY Post (h/t Instapundit): The smart way for post-coronavirus pandemic NYC to save money: Stop recycling

Another Local Example: Why It’s Important To Limit Government To Its Proper Role

I caught this on Fox 13: West Jordan faces $8 million budget shortfall; City employees offered severance to voluntarily resign

I don’t know all of West Jordan’s details but I’m guessing they’ve got a bunch of “quality of life” programs that use the power of government to force taxpayers to pay for hobbies and fun of groups favored by a politician or politician’s pet projects. Projects include recreation centers, arts, theaters, zoos, recycling, etc. etc. etc. Worse yet, governments bond for these projects and become lashed to the debt servicing and Moody’s ratings (kind of like a credit score).

When a budget crunch hits, government doesn’t want to default on it’s loans and politicians hate dumping cutesy projects they can get some press for. So they look for broad cuts and put core governmental functions on the chopping block as well. Actually they usually prefer scream about how police/fire/streets are “threatened” by the decline and we absolutely must ‘restructure’…and raise taxes to save the basic functions (but we absolutely shan’t cut our pet projects!). Thus, the irresponsible ‘nice-to-have’ projects put basic services at risk.

All to appease politicians and some folks who demand that others should be forced to pay for their interests and don’t want to be bothered having to put the effort forth to make it an actual voluntary, community-built effort (you know the stuff that actually builds real community).

We’ll soon see more reports on local and state government having to scramble to deal with the anticipated funding declines. Just keep a weary eye on how willing they are to put up the straw man of ‘saving basic services’ but really quietly saving their perpetually funded skunk farms.

UPDATE: Needless to say, the above most certainly applies to our Federal Government too. We need to slash spending on so many non essential programs and “entitlements”. In the recent pandemic spending bill a bunch went to stuff like the Kennedy Center in NYC and PBS/CPB (which as nothing to do with the pandemic or economic security but it does bail out an place a lot of rich people support). We’re lashing debt on our kids’ backs locally and nationally to subsidize interests/venues frequented by those who can most afford to attend and actually fund themselves! It’s ridiculous.

The biggest gripe I have with Trump is that he stinks at spending and hasn’t pushed back hard enough on the drunken spenders running amok in Congress. It won’t end well. At least he does call them out and is willing to take the swamp head-on but he’s got to do better on their ‘legal plunder’ and we need to stop asking them to legally plunder our neighbors and countrymen!

Stay Frosty: Faith And Good Works Don’t Eliminate Risk And Tragedy, Not Even Close

I’ve frequently heard people say that as long as they have faith and do the right thing, ‘the Lord will take care of them’. This lackadaisical attitude, however, has a destructive potential. Faith and doing right in hard circumstances is crucial but folks overlook that those things don’t absolve you from risk (including others’ actions) and natural law. When risk’s consequences come to bear, they will blindside and strike at the core. Risk’s punch is magnified for the complacent and unsuspecting.

Christ and scripture are quite clear that we will have trials and He’ll sustain us. That’s why faith is crucial. But it’s also made very clear that trials will be lightened, not removed – often lightened just enough for you to make it through or survive; you will be “refined by fire”. There are times risk and it’s consequences will cost your life even when you seek to do God’s will. I have ancestors that can attest to that – one was laid in a frozen grave in Wyoming and another in Utah from ‘a broken heart’ related to the Wyoming death. There are plenty of bad things that happen to good people all the time.

Many of us have heard the Francis Webster story of the Martin Handcart Company’s faith. Typically, the story ends with ‘ faith grew and not a single person fell away from the church’. Unfortunately, the story has been misconstrued (to a borderline urban legend), providing a false sense of security, diminishing free agency, and a poor lesson of consequences of trials.

The journey was absolutely horrible and Levi Savage was right to warn of the likely impending doom. They chose to press forward, regardless, wanting to be faithful and go to Zion ASAP. Some probably firmly believed they would be fine because they were doing God’s will and He’d keep them safe. In reality, risk and consequences were in play and all were subject to the deadly and debilitating results of their decision.

The conclusion about everyone being spiritually strengthened by the experience is false and a better lesson lost. Some went in eyes open prepared to accept that they had accepted significant risk, others were blindsided but focused on God and adapted to their potential new fates, and others did not. An excellent historical analysis of the story is available from BYU: Francis Webster: The Unique Story of One Handcart Pioneer’s Faith and Sacrifice.

The report includes the following key observations:

[PAGE 3]By attempting to make his testimony the universal sentiment of each member of these companies, a valuable and inspiring lesson has been lost. In its place has arisen a common perception that the price he paid to gain his powerful testimony simply involved pulling a handcart and enduring the hardships of an early winter. The lesson at the heart of his statement, however, goes beyond having to endure the cold and snow that all in the company experienced…

[PAGE 8]Although the Martin Company truly exemplified the motto “Faith in Every Footstep,” its members were not unlike any other disparate group of Latter-day Saints, such as those who made a similar journey at a different time or those found in a modern ward. There was a majority of the company, including Francis and Betsy Webster, whose faith seemed to grow with every step they took. There were also those who trudged along the trail, their faith little changed by what they experienced. Finally, there were those whose faith seemed to weaken along the way…

[PAGE 9]… While it is not known that anyone in the company apostatized directly as a result of the trials they endured in the cold and snow, there were Martin Company members who subsequently left the Church…

Being cavalier about risks on horizon and disregarding them with ‘it’s all in the plan and God will save us’ has a high likelihood of a very rude awakening. It also unrealistically displaces responsibility onto the Lord. Sure He’s in control but that doesn’t mean he’s “controlling” and we can dump our responsibilities on Him. He isn’t a micro-manager; more a laissez-fair Father. He typically just lets things play out without ‘making it happen’ (I bet we drive Him absolutely nuts with our reactions though). Natural law (His law) pretty much takes care of consequences, good or bad. He is critically involved through his Holy Spirit as a support and a guide to help prompt the faithful to avoid undue trials, to help us fight through trials and comfort us in tragedies and failures. Those are still miracles and growing experiences, if we so choose.

Really, virtually all curses, plagues, blessings and miracles come about by natural means – life takes care of it. Our choices and faith will determine if we turn things into a blessing or a curse. Things He actively made happen are exceptions to the rule and few in number (it wouldn’t surprise me if many of those exceptions were natural events the faithful were guided to and we just haven’t figured out yet).

Life is unfair. Its inherent risks and our screw-ups are certainly refining fires. We’re going to get unfairly beat up, have heartaches and may well lose our lives along the way but we know there’s a life beyond and we take hope and comfort in Christ’s Grace and His mansions beyond. We absolutely need to follow Christ, help each other, consistently repent and faithfully pray for God’s strength and blessings on us. We best also plan to be aware, anticipate, steel ourselves and put up a helluva fight to stick around here and make the best of it.

Disclaimer: I’m warning everyone right now that I’m not going to tolerate any dumping on anyone’s religious affiliation. While religious, this post isn’t a forum to troll people on their religion.

Utah’s Toxic Mix: Individual Rights Take Back Seat To Politically Connected Organizations

I was recently sent an article from the Church of Jesus Christ regarding some legislation they are supporting. The byline states “The bill preserves religious freedom…” but that is a half truth. The whole article is actually riddled with this distortion in statements like ” All religious persons should be free to live, work or serve their community in ways that are consistent with their faith.” This implies the legislation protects “persons”. It doesn’t. Just like the church-supported 2015 Utah law*, the bill protects organizations not individuals. Churches are protected, members are not. You are left in the cold.

Odder still, the church is pushing more of its functions to individuals and is on a path for further home-centered church activities. This church-supported legislation appears to undermine what they’re doing as families take more religious/church responsibilities yet don’t appear to be granted the same protections granted to religious organizations. As mom-and-pop bakeries, florists, and reception centers can attest, you are a target.

Meanwhile, look at the Utah tax reform fiasco. Here are a couple of articles to get you up to speed:
Questions that legislators were asked to address before voting on tax reform (Note: this links to a homepage and not a specific post, it may move)
Tax Reform Special Legislative Session: Review & Observations

Traditional US order and foundations are being turned on their on their head. Rather than government being the protector of individual rights, individuals are treated as government’s servants (even called a “reservoir of funds” during the tax reform hearings) and government now serves big business/organizations. People are increasingly at the bottom of consideration. Individual freedom is virtually scorned by those in power.

A further manifestation of this are the actions of Utah’s insular elite as they fight to maintain control. That’s not to say the elites are bad people. They do a lot of good but then enact policies that create the problems and undermine others. They are blindsided by angry opposition yet continue to press various schemes on people to socialize costs and selectively privatize the benefits while turning a blind eye to the effects on individuals who pay those costs – they are convinced ‘they know what’s best for the rest’. This ignorance and arrogance becomes “a toxic mix” bad for them and for society.

While I’m not trusting of polls, it is telling that a poll conducted by one of the “Utah oligarch’s” own front organizations found that people ranked aiding business and expanding government intervention schemes dead last in their priorities.

The lack of respect of individual rights, selective protections and focus on favored groups needs to end. It’s bad for all of us.

*Background note: This isn’t the first time the church has exempted itself from laws everyone else is subject to. They also did so with immigration law back in 2005.

Time To Change: Conservatives Blowing It On Government and Education Sectors

I recently read this article:

How to Cope With Your Prof’s Left-wing Bias

The article deals with university professors but the problem is seen at virtually all levels of the educations system. However, how did we get here? How did we get to the point that conservatives, libertarians, and even moderates, have to basically hide and/or pretend to be liberal to be able to get through school?

Realistically, it’s out own fault. For decades we’ve told our kids how awful government and education systems are and to avoid them (instead of getting in there and fixing them). So guess what, our kids listened. Meanwhile, all the liberal kids took those jobs. We’ve basically ceded the ground to liberals/progressives in those fields and look how it’s turned out.

Rather, we need to acknowledge the serious problems of the education/indoctrination system and incredibly dangerous deep state AND encourage ourselves and our kids to consider getting in there an being the voice of reason to balance debate (actually have debate and free thought). Yes, it will be tough to get in and rough (you’ll be considered a pariah) requiring significant patience and forethought/strategy. However, it should be quite evident that continuing to cede these career fields to oppressive progressives and social justice warriors is just not an option.

We need to quit just bashing education and government employment and get in these fields to help fix the destruction that has been wrought.

Bountiful City Council Ready To Cloak Recycling Cost Rather Than Evaluate And Reform

Bountiful City already cloaks the cost of government via the power fund transfer to the general fund and the Mayor and City Council are poised to extend this practice to cloak the cost of recycling by transferring $120,000 from the landfill fund to the recycling fund. The vote on this is scheduled for 7PM Tuesday, June 25th at 255 South 100 West (Fire Station 81) and public comment will be taken.

It has been long known that recycling was inefficient with much being shifted to landfills. Ultimately, recyclers were middlemen that imposed additional cost for part of the waste stream to end up in a landfill. Many have been fooling themselves and imposing a ‘feelgood surcharge’ on their neighbors while ignoring reality for years. It’s time to come to terms that inviable recycling may emotionally feel good in ignorance but the reality is it is only adding and extra step and cost to trash going to a landfill. That special-interest cost is borne by the poor, young families on tight budgets and the elderly on fixed incomes. With the long anticipated market correction in recycling, this should be used as an opportunity to streamline programs to reflect reality and alleviate an undue burden.

While I’ve recycled for decades, I opposed the inefficient and wasteful curbside recycling mandate. If we’re serious about recycling, it would be better to return to and expand centralized recycling collection points where people can conveniently drop off their recyclables as part of their routine errands. Prior to the current government program, recycling points were located near Smith’s Marketplace (on city property), schools and some store parking lots. The city and recycling companies could join with businesses to cooperatively locate convenient collection points. These would have the several benefits:

  • Efficient recycling streams: better product segregation rather than mixed goods that require significant labor to sort
  • Cleaner, less contaminated recycling streams: partly due to better segregation and people are more careful/knowledgeable who voluntarily recycle
  • Glass collection: prior to the government mandate, glass was collected at the central locations
  • Helping air quality: lower emissions as far fewer trucks and fuel are needed to pick up from a few locations rather than every residential home/street. This is particularly the case as people can drop off their recycling as part of their existing weekly trips (grocery store etc.) thus requiring no additional gas consumption.
  • No or far lower cost to citizens
  • Alleviates the cost imposed on senior citizens who have few recyclables but are forced to pay for full-sized cans
  • Removes heavy hand of governmental force (fees)

Furthermore, some items may well still make sense and actually pay for themselves or provide revenue. Two things to consider are aluminum (and metals) and food waste – I understand the new biodigesters in North Salt Lake have the potential to make money.

The transfer should be rejected and the burdensome, inefficient program replaced with an efficient program that respects Bountiful family and fixed-income budgets. You may want to attend the meeting or reach out to the city council.

Bountiful City Not Only Hides True Tax Burden And Overcharges You On Power, Now They’re Going To Cloak Recycling Costs

For years I’ve documented Bountiful City politicians’ game of manipulating power rates to avoid truth-in-taxation and then claim taxes are low. Using this scheme, they’ve enjoyed pulling the wool over residents’ eyes on the actual financial burden imposed on residents by city government. This year, they’re again transferring about $2.49 million from power charges to the general fund (see the insert in your city power bill). I’m not going into detail on it this time, click the above link for all posts on the issue to get background and how they use the tactic to cloak the true tax rate (it would roughly double property taxes – about $2.5 million was taken in per FY 2018 Financial Annual Report (pdf).

This year, someone concocted a new way to hide the cost of government and a failing program. If you look in the notice that came in your power bill, they’re planning to transferring $240,485* from the Landfill Fund to the Recycling Fund. Their raiding the functional landfill to subsidize the failing mandatory recycling program instead of raising the recycling fee. Thus, they hide the actual cost of the recycling program by “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. Rather than argue the merits of the program, they’ll just keep forcing it on us.

The recycling market has tanked and many cities are getting rid of the inefficient and costly program (see here too). Not Bountiful politicians. It’s awful hard to give up a pet project payed for by others (particularly an unwanted project they foisted on us).

For what it’s worth, I actually like legitimate recycling and reducing trash (I don’t like waste, Neo reflects my thoughts well ). Recycle your cans (give the funds to charity) and paper/cardboard can be conveniently dropped off at schools (they get money for it) while you run errands. Feel good ineffectual recycling programs imposing a burden on struggling families and folks on fixed incomes isn’t the way to do it.

If you’re interested, Bountiful City Council will hold a public hearing on both transfers on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 7:00PM at the fire station on 255 S 100 W. You can also email city council members if you can’t make it but have a comment.

For all posts related to recycling, click here.

*Update: As of June 22, the figure appears to have been updated to a $120,000 transfer. See: Bountiful City Council Ready To Cloak Recycling Cost Rather Than Evaluate And Reform