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!

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

Local Swamp: Bountiful City Not Only Wastes Citizens Tax Money But Surrounding Cities’ As Well

A few months ago, Bountiful city council politicians voted to go forward with yet another “revitalization” project for Main Street. That’s code for blowing tax money on some pet project they like or special interests lobby for (AKA, pork). These projects are usually well outside the scope of core and appropriate government function but rationalized away. Once approved, the funding schemes begin.

In this case, Bountiful City is going to put in some unnecessary plaza and has decided to include an “ice ribbon” (narrow outdoor skating area) which will double as a roller skating facility once the ice is off. So, the city is taking your money to pay for someone else’s hobby/fun.

Now the funding scheme. Besides blowing Bountiful families’ and fixed income residents’ money on this, the Mayor (Randy Lewis) has managed to secure money from Centerville, West Bountiful, Woods Cross and North Salt Lake residents. He was able to do this because he serves on the recreation district board with other mayors (this is key). The board voted to have the recreation district pay half of the operation, maintenance and repair costs for the ice ribbon (that includes a Zamboni to resurface the ice) for the next 30 years. Thus they voted to use the recreation district’s taxpayer funds for Bountiful’s benefit.

Why would the other mayors take taxpayer money from the district to, in effect, supplement Bountiful’s budget? It comes down to back scratching and the time-tested political stunt of accountability dilution (spreading the blame). The other mayors know that Mayor Lewis will vote to cough up recreation district taxpayer money for their future pet projects (back scratching). Since ‘the board members’ voted for the wasteful spending and to supplement another city’s tax revenues, each mayor can say it was a board decision and dilute their culpability when citizens question the spending.

Not only are Bountiful residents on the hook for this project but surrounding cities’ residents are also tied to it for the next 30 years. Now that’s what I call government efficiency!

For what it’s worth, this is the same recreation district board also recently voted themselves a “salary” (politicians who pushed for the recreation center “promised” the board would be an unpaid position) and gave their whole household free annual recreation center passes.

Finally, I’m tired of hearing all the conservative virtue signalling about fiscal responsibility, respect of families, and individual accountability in Bountiful. It’s bunk. When push comes to shove, many are happy to turn to government and demand you pay for something they think is cool but don’t want to pay for or are too lazy/entitled to or ask for voluntary donations/cooperation. It’s that voluntary cooperation that creates a true community that cares – not rationalizing and forcing people to pay for fun perks. Bountiful definitely isn’t conservative. It’s all hat, no cattle.

Bountiful’s 2018 Property Tax Increase (Bountiful City And Ray Ward Heaping More Tax Increases On Families)

You’ve either received or will soon receive a glossy tax increase notice from Bountiful City. They are planning on jacking up your property tax rate. Part of this is thanks to Representative Ray Ward having a voracious appetite for tax increase schemes (like the homeless offset through 2018 SB235 and property tax games). However, this also comes on the heels of:

There are a few other increases that I think I’m missing but I don’t have time and you get the gist.

City politicians, however, say we have some critical stuff to fund like roads and police. Funny thing is we already have the money but local politicians and special interests don’t want to give up their pet projects. As I said when we faced the 4000% increase for fire service, the money was flushed:

[Politicians] 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.

I also missed the forced recycling fee (which Ray Ward lobbied for). It’s garbage…literally. With China calling it quits on recycling junk, we’re literally paying an extra fee for garbage.

No wonder so many city leaders endorsed Ray Ward. Talk about scratching each others’ backs.

Finally, the offensive “Bountiful has 2nd lowest individual tax rate of the 15 Davis County cities” falsehood. It’s total shell game Beeee Essss:

Bountiful uses the city power department to cloak the actual tax/government burden by manipulating rates and fees as an additional revenue stream into the general fund that isn’t subject to truth in taxation. As I’ve demonstrated here and several city politicians (and a former city manager) acknowledge, without the cloaked power tax, actual tax rates would be roughly doubled**.

Go back to the tax chart the city placed on the tax notice. If you double the rate (from 0.000832 to ~0.0016) to account for the transfer from the power company (thus comparing apples-to-apples with other cities), Bountiful ends up in the top 5 highest taxed in Davis county (about tied with Kaysville!).

Why would I get excited about Kaysville? Because Kaysville used to also use it’s municipal power company to manipulate rates and cloak taxes. Citizens figured out the game and forced an end to the practice. The result was Kaysville’s tax rate went up to it’s real (unhidden) level. This near rate match between Bountiful’s adjusted rate and Kaysville’s rate lends more credence that the above doubling is valid.

The open house is at City Hall on July 19 at 6PM and the official public meeting is at City Hall on August 7, 2018 at 7PM. Good luck.

*Addendum: Here’s some irony for you. The city is hiring two workers for their frivolous plaza. Meanwhile, the city is justifying part of the tax increase to hire two new police officers.

**Addendum 2: Another analysis by Ron Mortensen combined the revenue from property tax and the power transfer to calculate the actual rate results in a rate of 0.001361 (pre increase) 0.001448  (post increase) or about equivalent to North Salt Lake  (a couple of cities behind Kaysville) and in the middle of the other cities (certainly not second lowest).

Don’t Press Your Luck With Tax-And-Spend Incumbents (UPDATE: Ray Ward Strikes Again)

Take a look at your phone bill and compare it to about a year ago, focusing on the tax portions. You’ll notice a significant increase on each phone line, ramping up your bill. You can thank our tax-and-spend legislators for this.

I don’t have time to analyze each increase for each line item this year and prior years. However, based on this article summarizing a set of 2017 tax increases (see the “Statewide telecommunications and prepaid cell phone rate increases” section) coupled with the voting record for 2017’s SB198, its clear legislators run up your bill. In South Davis, on of those with a history of voting for tax increases is Ray Ward and that’s no exception here either. Going on with my last post’s theme, it’s time to stop pressing our luck with Ward…this is a fourth ‘whammy’ and in the game, that means you’re out. I hope Phill Wright can pull off the win.

I’m probably too late for the primary election but if you’ll be voting at the polls, please take this last minute to look up voting records and be aware of many incumbents’ propensity to drive up family tax burdens.

UPDATE (6/27): Found out another item. Evidently Ray Ward was also behind forcing mandatory recycling fees down Bountiful resident throats (despite the majority of respondents opposing it). I understand he used a Scout troop to lobby (that is a no-no by Scout policies, BTW) the city council for the mandatory tax (“fee”) they surreptitiously shoved through as a “discussion” item. To top it off, the recycling market has tanked so we’re now also forced to pay for our ‘recycling’ to go to a dump. Thanks a whole bunch, Ray.

Unfortunately, Ward made it through his primary so this doesn’t bode well considering his penchant to use heavy-handed government means to fund all sorts of programs (including his own interests) through your wallet (even if it takes co-opting politically neutral groups).