Last Chance To Stop Bountiful City From Blowing $21 Mil Of Your Taxes

About a month ago, the city council voted unanimously* to ignore citizen pleas and dump $21 million to please yet another round of special interests. They continue to justify it as something that won’t raise taxes, when it reality it will, just not immediately (they’re robbing Peter to pay Paul – see also: Fund Utah schools by ending corporate incentives).

You now have one last chance to stop this money grab and you can do it while Christmas shopping. A citizens referendum is prepared and needs your signature before January 6th (it takes a minute don’t put it off!). Just swing by K & J Auto or contact the Better Bountiful group. Details (edited for brevity):

The long-awaited Referendum is finally, ready to sign!

THANK YOU!  We have come a long way together, and owe it to your great support.  With people focused on the holiday season we need your help now, more than ever!  Please see below for details on how to help and ensure we get the signatures we need!

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

  •  Visit one of the locations at the given times below and sign the referendum.
  • Or, even better, we need volunteers to collect signatures on the approved forms (See where to obtain them below).

WHERE DO I GO TO PARTICIPATE?

  • K & J Auto (10 am – 6 pm Monday – Friday, 10 am – 3 pm Saturday)

o   310 South Main Street

One quick easy trip. That’s it….and since your downtown anyway, why not check out some of the local merchants offerings for Christmas (hint, hint).

For ongoing updates on the referendum and the city hall issue see: NoNewCityHall.com and the Better Bountiful group.

*One member on the council (Harris) was partially fooled into voting for the entire amount when the council presented the spending as an all-or-nothing package (not allow for components to be split up). Just a typical political move from entrenched politicians to get junk funded (wish more people like Ted Cruz would call them out on this type of crap and simply say ‘fine, I’ll vote no to the whole thing then’).

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Bountiful City Council Sophistry For Their New City Hall

A bit over a month ago, I warned that Bountiful City Council had begun another foray at getting their new city hall. A few days ago I got their glossy propaganda pamphlet telling my why I should be happy to see $21 Million more in taxes be spent so “visionary” politicians can put their names on new projects paid for by taxpayers. The pamphlet’s rationale is simply absurd:

The author attempts to justify a new city hall as an economic driver for Main Street. I’m sorry, a new city hall is not a tourist attraction. The same clients coming for permits are not going to all-of-a-sudden start burning cash on Main St. because city hall has a new car smell. Private business is an economic driver, not pretty new government buildings with no additional services.

Further, Main street is not an easily accessible area and unless they want to gut blocks of city to totally restructure the roads from I-15, it will remain the same. This ‘revitalizing Main St’ shtick as a justification for pet projects that have been going on for well over a decade. Enough already.

Other justifications for the spending include a plaza for chalk art, a car show, and undefined community events. All seem like they would qualify for the RAP Tax we already pay (they’re double dipping). All already have perfectly adequate venues and interest groups are welcome to fund improvements (if they actually even want any in the first place) rather than tapping school and county tax funds.

The taxes not increasing thing is bogus. RDAs are a synonym for “robbing Peter to pay Paul” in my book or as a state Legislative Audit report states:  “When RDAs take property taxes as allowed in tax increment financing (TIF), other taxing entities suffer. .” Yes, tax rates will not increase…yet. What happens is that the schools and Davis county just gave up $21 Million in revenue. In a few years they’ll need a building or have some other spending shortfall. Then we get tagged with urgent demands for a tax increase or extension of a prior tax increase (bonds) ‘to fund these critical needs for the children’ or for public safety – the same project(s) that would have otherwise been funded by the forgone RDA money. So, yeah, there is an indirect impact on our tax rates, be it an increase or, in the case of bond extensions, rates that were not reduced (and money not returned).

Finally, the pamphlet claims a net $17 Million benefit (with a 261% ROI). If that is true, the RDA is unnecessary and a developer should jump at that kind of a return. So, I guess we don’t need the RDA after all, hooray!

Addendum: The Better Bountiful group appears to be the main opposition. It has recently set up a website (NoNewCityHall.com) specifically dealing with this issue. One of their first and greatest challenges will be to overcome the involvement inertia so well describe by Rose and Milton Friedman.

 

South Davis County And UTA: Preparing For Streetcar Tax Increases

Overpriced Art Center Pet Project: Check.  Next local politicians’ pet project with your money: the erstwhile nixed streetcar project.  In 2010, I warned that the issue could raise it’s head again, especially as we view how politicians and special interests pushed the RAP tax over and over again ultimately employing a divide and conquer strategy to get it passed.  Looks like they going to keep pushing on this one too.  From the Salt Lake Tribune article:

Those communities and the Utah Transit Authority are taking a step toward making that a reality — but probably far in the future, and after conversion from an initial, cheaper-to-build “bus rapid transit” (BRT) line, sort of a TRAX on rubber wheels.

Officials are working out details to join in a $450,000 study on whether to build such a line, where the alignment should be, whether it should be a streetcar, TRAX or BRT — and what kind of economic impacts it could have. That “alternatives analysis,” assisted by a $360,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration, is expected to be completed next year.

Now they can dump $450K of pork (your money) into a study plus the future potential cost of their project.  However, this politicians trough comes with a cherry on top…a tax increase:

What could delay a streetcar or TRAX — and force longer use of the cheaper BRT — is that Davis County has a lower sales tax rate for transit than does Salt Lake County, so less money is available for such projects…

…”In order for Davis County to be a player,” Millburn said, increasing the transit sales tax likely will likely have to be addressed “some time.”

I suppose Commissioners Millburn and Downs forgot they were elected due to a tax revolt or figure increasing by drips and drabs will go unnoticed.  The end result is the same: more tax burdens on families.

2011 Bountiful City Council Candidates (With Incumbent Data)

This is going to be a short post.  Basically, there is only one candidate (Ernie Cox) that is even willing to look at cuts related to the city budget.  All other candidates are incumbents or former incumbents who have supported various taxes and government intrusions into the private sector (be it recreation centers, RAP taxes, forced recycling, transfers from the city power company to cloak tax rates, and streetcars etc).  Based on the above link from the Standard Examiner, Cox seems to be the only fiscal conservative of the bunch who may, at least, provide for some debate or opposition at council meetings.  This may be important as the Mayor and council continue to pursue stuff like streetcars.

Based on data passed on by a reader, an opposing voice is sorely needed:

Voting Record of the Sitting Bountiful City Council

Year

Total Motions

Motions Passed

Total Unanimous

Total Aye Votes

Total Nay Votes

% Yay Votes

2011

176

176

176

814

0

100.0%

2010

202

202

200

926

2

99.8%

2009

172

172

172

793

0

100.0%

2008

210

209

204

986

9

99.1%

4-Year Total

760

759

752

3519

11

99.69%

-The last time voting was not unanimous was 7/27/2010 (Moss voted Nay on Bountiful Lumber Development motion)

-Voting was completely unanimous in both 2011 (to date) and 2009.

-The last time a motion did not carry (pass) was 12/9/2008–nearly 4 years ago (Knight, Holbrook, Tolman voted nay on

Extension of Sunset Provision)

*source: Minutes from Bountiful City Council Meetings

Over a four year period (2008-2011), the current city council votes the same (yea) 99.69% of the time.  I would expect city councils to have relatively high agreement percentages given the higher proportion of ‘gimme’ issues they encounter but only disagreeing 0.31% of the time seems pretty excessive.

Finally, here are the absences are as follows (includes late arrival or early departure which results in missed votes):

Moss 8
Myers 7
Knight 5
Tolman 4
Holbrook 3

Food for thought when voting this year.

Vigilance: Bountiful Streetcar Boondoggle (and kudos to Layton)

The Clipper reports “Don’t expect streetcars to come to Bountiful soon“:

Salt Lake City officials are hopeful the federal government will soon pick up the tab on at least some of their streetcar projects, but Bountiful City officials don’t believe South Davis will see streetcars anytime soon.

Bountiful City planner Aric Jensen said he believes some of the Salt Lake City lines are shovel ready, that is, builders can proceed as soon as funding is available.

That’s not the case in Bountiful or Centerville, where there’s been no engineering or other preparatory work done — and that may be several years out.

That’s a bit of good news BUT the political pet project certainly isn’t dead and watch for surprises on it (especially if the Bountiful City Council has any say as we saw with recycling).  Right now it looks like all the local politicians are hoping that ‘tea party candidates’ will flounder and Federal pork (because people in Kentucky should pay for Bountiful’s streetcars!) can be thrown their way:

As to future streetcar funding in Davis County, “a lot depends on what happens in the (November) elections. Much depends on the political structure.”

All those “hundreds of residents turned out to protest the plan and the proposed route” better keep their guard up, this is by no means over.

Ending on the positive: At least some Layton officials made the right call on forced recycling:

“Traditional recycling is a costly service in terms of curbside pickup,” he said. “It does not pay for itself,” he said, noting “mixed results” in terms of some other cities’ experience with a recycling program.

“The only way to make traditional curbside recycling financially viable is to force everyone to participate and pay,” Curtis said. “City councils in Layton have not wanted to do so because it would force people to pay for something only a limited number would use.”

Amen!

Two South Davis Mayors For Bailout Bob Bennett (Bountiful, Woods Cross)

I received a mailing entitle “Mayors for Bennett”.  On it were two familiar South Davis County names:

Joe Johnson, Bountiful Mayor

Kent Parry, Woods Cross Mayor

There was also one former Mayor (Shanna Schafermeyer of North Salt Lake) and current County Commissioner Louenda Downs.

Keep in mind, that Bob Bennett voted for the incredibly ill-conceived bailout (plus he took plenty of money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), supported amnestyvoted for the wasteful “Serve America Act”, and is a major earmark supporter.

It should, thus, come as no surprise that some local officials would support him.  Take the case of the Bountiful Mayor who is in the process of forcing a wasteful streetcar system down citizens throats (just one of his many pet projects he wants demands you pay for).  He has already lobbied Bennett and Hatch for some pork , so why end the gravy train?

It will be up to voters to reject the corporate-welfare pork spending mentality of officials at all levels.  Here’s to carrying through the desire of Utah’s first teaparty (go to the 1 minute mark):

Politicians Pet Project Meets Resistance (Centerville, Bountiful)

About a year ago, the Bountiful Mayor began talking up steetcars and wanted to some pork spending for his latest pet project.  Shortly thereafter, it came out that he and a Centerville Cit Council member had gone on a UTA-sponsored, taxpayer funded junket to Europe.  A few months later, streetcars appear on the Bountiful City General Plan revision.

That brings us to today where UTA wants to fulfill another pet project fantasy at taxpayer expense.  Fortunately, the plan has met some resistance (Davis County streetcar proposal draws heat):

During a crowded open house Tuesday night, an overwhelming majority of residents opposed a plan to use a streetcar to connect southeast Davis County with Salt Lake City…

Money also worries about a tax increase to fund the streetcar.

The transit line could cost between $411 million and $472 million, said UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter.

A TRAX line, which was considered previously, would have cost up to $700 million. Carpenter said the next step would be to find funding for the line, which could be a mix of federal and local dollars. [emphasis added]

Take note of the last line I quoted.  They are going to want federal pork funding and tax money for a wasteful mass transit project.  Perusing the rest of the article, UTA comes up with some “justifications” bordering on the ludicrous of helping the local economy.  The good news is, however, that an opposition group is organizing.

Local politicians and special interests have, thus far, been very effective in forcing taxpayer to cough up money for their unnecessary projects.  Part of that is the demonstrated propensity of local politicians to just shove their projects down citizens’ throats and the other part is provided by Milton Friedman (a highly recommended read).  The opponents better be ready to fight hard.