Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SL Trib: Davis County mulls permanent swimming pool ban on diapered babies

The Tribune is reporting that the Davis Health Department is considering whether it would be best to institute a permanent ban on diapered babies in public swimming pools. Considering the likelihood of a rebound on the cryptosporidiosis parasite that struck this year, I favor the ban.

Not only would this preserve and protect the health of the general public, but those infants with still developing immune systems.

Those of us with small babies can wait until our kids are potty trained.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Davis County Commission: No More Taxes This Year

Taxes may not go up next year either, but you can bet your house that you'll pay more than ever on your property taxes when the one-time abatements run out.

Salt Lake Trib: Davis Budget No new tax

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Live Blogging: Property Tax Townhall Mtg

7:19 Public officials here are Alan Hansen, Rep. Neuenschwander, and James Ivie...otherwise it is a full house of citizens here at the Bountiful Library.

7:21 I got started a little late, but the meeting began with a discussion of the property tax abatement applying only to this year and the recycling program being a fee, but still a cost to the citizens.

7:27 Some questions and comments from the audience...I'd like to see the rest of the presentation, but this is getting people excited.

7:28 Legislative priorities

  • Fair and equitable property valuation
  • Fair, transparent accounting for taxpayer funds
  • Fair system for tax increases
  • Fair way to fund public education
7:31 Good, Bad, and Ugly Legislation

Good. Acquisition Value. Truth in taxation on steriods. Move schools to other taxes. Transparency in government. Burden of proof on Assessor. Limitation on taxing authority.
Bad. Rolling Average. More oversigth by state tax commission. Value based on square footage. Extend 45% exemption to more than 1 acre.
Ugly. Tax Deferral. Circuit breaker increases. Tax freeze for certain people. Annual market value assessments. Longer lasting voted leeway.

7:36 To pass a tax increase greater than the cost of inflation ought to be a vote involving a double majority (not only must a majority turn up to vote, but they must have a majority in favor of the tax increase).

7:39 The co-founder of DavisParents.org, Randy Smith, is making a comment that moving schools to a sales tax might be regrettionary? (I'm not sure I heard him correctly. I'll try to clarify.)

7:43 When Bret Milburn ran for Commission he ran on cutting taxes. Cited Mitt Romney running the olympics (I'm not hearing Ron say that Milburn has not done this yet.)

7:45 Rep N. is saying that the characterization that the legislature won't cut the budget is unfair. He says to come to the health and human services committee to see the cuts.

7:49 Mr Ivie is asking if Ron is willing to raise taxes to hire 100 more assessors for the frequent assessments that is being suggested.

7:51 Comments from the peanut gallery are getting pretty heated driven, in part, by the defensive stance of the elected officials.

7:53 An argument is being made against a Prop. 13 type reform, however I'm not sure we have a bill that does this.

8:01 Tax deferral means that you don't pay til you die or sell your house. (In the meantime, everyone else is paying more because others taxes are nil.)

8:04 James Ivie is speaking, and suggests that his plan is to get all "properties equalized at the same time."-meaning that they get assessed near to same time.

Mortensen responds that Ivie is not the enemy, but that problems caused by infrequent assessments began long before Ivie was elected. Ivie has been good at his job.

8:09 Comment from Weber county citizen who says that our assessments are based on the MLS which does not include 'for sale by owner', meaning there is a 6 percent higher value placed on homes due to realtor commissions which figure into the value of the home.

8:13 A commentor suggests that to be an effective lobbyist you should be working all year long, not just when the session starts.

8:15 Mortensen: Average increase in budget has been 15% per year since Huntsman has been in office.

8:18 Comment from a citizen. The county commission only has authority over 4 out of 14 entities.

8:22 Utah's Right to Know. for salaries of public employees.

8:23 Meeting has ended.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Announcing: Property Tax "Townhall Meetings"

Citizens For Tax Fairness.org is holding two meetings on property taxes this week. Please attend one.

November 27, 2007 7:00 PM at the Bountiful City Library 725 S Main in Bountiful

November 29, 2007 7:00 PM at The American Legion 55 W. 200 S. in Bountiful.

At these meetings, we will:
  1. Learn what the legislature is planning to do on property taxes (over 20 bills have already been filed).
  2. Develop action plans for making and holding elected officials accountable if they fail to satisfactorily address the property tax issue.
  3. Develop contingency plans for a Proposition 13 type movement if the legislature does not fix the problem.
  4. Review the Davis County property tax abatement which is only for this year.
  5. Organize to attend upcoming budget hearings where the property tax decisions are really made.
  6. Develop a schedule for citizen lobbyist training.
  7. Set up e-mail lists and telephone trees in order to ensure that everyone is kept up-to-date.
  8. Establish a public relations program.
  9. Address other issues that those in attendance may have.
This is where you should make your voice heard. If you favor one, or another plan for tax reform, you should come and weigh in. For example, I'm worried about a prop 13 type plan, so I'll be advocating for something that preserves the accountability of "Truth in Taxation", with the emphasis on representative government. Nothing is set in stone at this point, so now is the time to speak up. I'll be at Tuesday nights meeting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Are Six Figure Salaries Justified Of A Non-Profit?

With public opinion heavily slated against the BSA's practice of giving high salaries to its executives, I might be facing an inevitable flame war for what I'm about to say. And no, I'm not playing devils advocate.

There are legitimate reasons that the BSA could have for being generous in there compensation packages. My reasons follow, in part.

First, let me acknowledge that the initial sticker-shock that most people felt when confronted with a $214,000 salary is justified. As a point of comparison, the Deseret News cites Dick Cheney's salary to be only $1,700 more. This data point alone should be enough to give pause to anyone that has contributed funds to "Friends of Scouting". However, it should not be the factor that decides whether we will donate. WP has given many reasons that he will not contribute that are legitimate, but are open to debate. For it is his opinion on the efficacy of the organization that has been expressed. For example, he feels that the Roundtable events offered in his area are sub-par. This point does speak as to whether BSA executives are worth their pay. If the program is unsuccessful, then the larger paycheck is not justified. If, however, we like the "fruits" of the scouting program, then we might want to contribute to "Friends of Scouting".

The second point is that non-profit organizations must compete with the rest of corporate America for the same labor pool. There is not some mystical Shangri-la of independently wealthy, and fully qualified executives that are lining up to serve for lesser compensation. People that have put themselves into the workforce expect to be paid for their work. Of course, there are exceptions, but we shouldn't plan for rare cases. I would expect the BSA to compensate their employees on par with similar organizations, of a similar size, within the state. If the highest paid BSA executives got lesser pay than other organizations would provide for the same work, then I would expect that the BSA would adjust the compensation to match.

Third, if it is true that these executives are working 60-80 hours per week, then it should be expected that they will be compensated for their extra time and effort. Folks that are willing to work extra hours are, in a sense, the exception to the rule. If true, it speaks a great deal about the caliber of the people that are attracted to scouting as a career choice.

Lastly, I expect that the BSA could have immunized themselves against these criticisms were they to divest these employee's of some of their responsibilities and authority. They could have divided a six-figure income six ways among six people, but the end result might not have been as effective. I think the BSA has benefited by having a flat organization in Utah where participation in scouting is so high among the youth.

I contributed to FOS this year. Not only in donating my time to collect offerings, but in monetary form. I can't say for certain whether I will contribute next year. I suppose I will evaluate the program on its merits and decide whether the BSA has proven capable of producing what I expect of them. It may not have been stated so succinctly elsewhere, but it is my feeling that the purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to produce godly young men who will become leaders in this country. So, if I can see that leadership to be a product of what the BSA does next year, then I will pay what I can to this organization.

Other bloggers also weighing in on this issue follow.

Utah Conservative
The Life I am Choosing...
Reach Upward

This has been reported first in the Deseret News, followed by the Salt Lake Tribune.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Let The Real Debate Begin

I seem to feel a new vitality for blogging that has been somewhat missing of late. Not because I won anything in last nights vote, but precisely because I lost.

Now that vouchers have expired, I can finally get some serious answers from folks who support education. That includes people from both camps that supported, or opposed vouchers. Sure the rhetoric won't completely vanish, but those who are sincere will re-emerge into the political light and, hopefully, start hammering out some real solutions. I think there are a lot of serious folks who retreated from the heated debate these last few months, that will now open up some good discussions.

RAP Rant

Joshua thought it so important that I get straightened out on my views that he posted this rant to my post about the RAP tax. (It appeared twice, so I deleted the superfluous one) I'll let it stand on its own without comment from me.

"If you are that anti-tax why then do we pay our public officials with tax dollars? Public officials that you support. Why do we have any community services at all? Are you opposed to parks? Youth Sports and other community sponsered events? Should we do away with road maitenance or the fire and police departments? No no no, I am sure you consider those "needs". Basic civil services right? Well I am being taxed for them, yet I have never had NEED of the fire department, nor the police. I own a 4 wheel drive vehicle so I really don't care if the roads are bad. Why don't the private individuals who want those services pay for it and leave my money alone. I have no kids so i have no NEED for public education anymore yet they steal my money and tax my property to pay for it. HOW DARE THEY?! Those tax and spend liberals! The fact of the matter is this, we are taxed, where that tax money goes is a whole other question. Personally I would much rather see bright a new beacon of culture and sophistication grace my county then yet another strip mall, or another subdivision. Working in the real estate field I am stunned every day how much government assitance is given to "private sector" projects. For once it would be nice to see a project that is solely for the people have a chance to get up off the ground.

Oh, and anyone who is TRULY a fan of Shakespeare wants it forced on everyone. It goes with the territory. Reading a couple of sonets and seeing plays doesn't create a Shakespearian Dramturge. However his is always the first name to be pulled to try and make oneself sound cultured. The Bard worship doesn't impress anyone into thinking you really are "pro-arts". And thats okay, you don't have to be. The world is full because of all types in it.

You have a group of people in this area who want to do something great, who want to share their gifts with all around. They need a proper place to do it in. You wouldn't ask the firemen to try and do what they do with out trucks and a station. We obviously don't ask our mayor and city council to operate out of the basement of the mayors home. This group wants to give back to their community the best way they know how, they have tried for years to figure out on how to do it alone, and have gotten about half way there. All they are asking is for everyone to pitch in 1 penny for every 1 dollar you are going to spend fo eight years. That is less then the change you will lose in your sofa or in cleaning out your car. 1 penny at a time to build a place that ALL residents would be proud to have in their community. It is sad when we can't muster up even that amount of generosity of spirit to affect change for good in our communities because of fear-mongers, decrying "legalized plunder" and "tax and spend liberals". I would have you know on an interesting side note that the people who are highest up in this group are FAR FAR from liberal democrates. They are as ultra-conservitive republican as I have ever met. They just happen to be able to see the world for what it is and not what they want it to be."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election Results:2007

It looks like participating cities got their RAP tax. My picks for NSL won. The sales tax increase was a big NO!

Of interest in Bountiful; Scott Myers came in first for the city council followed by Beth Holbrook, who recently ran for a lege seat, and John (Marc) Knight.

For complete election results see KSL.com

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Vote 2007: My Dance Card

I'll be voting for Shanna Schaefermeyer for NSL Mayor. Ron Gordon, Stan Porter, and Brian Horrocks for city council. I'll support Scott Briggs if he can win without my vote. He hasn't proven to me that he can do more than sign a pledge not to raise taxes.

I'm clearly voting for vouchers, and if they fail I want ideas on how to prepare for this states education challenges to come from those that opposed vouchers. And, you can't say spend more money. That isn't a serious answer.

I'd vote against the R.A.P if I had to, but NSL has opted out. (One reason to vote no is that it is only really an A. tax to pay for Arts. Like batteries, Recreation and Parks are not included.) I'm voting against the sales tax increase, because it doesn't help my town at all.

If Not Vouchers, Then What?

Faced with the prospect of a defeat of vouchers at the polls next Tuesday, I ask the question. If not vouchers, then what?

Vouchers were implemented by a majority of the legislature, and signed by a Governor who say that vouchers will help public schools. If we take them at their word--and we must unless they have proven themselves untrustworthy on this point, then we should examine the future of public education without vouchers.

Even without the implementation of vouchers, the numbers of entrants into public schools will grow exponentially. The Utah Taxpayer Association estimates that by 2015, we will have 150,000 more students enrolled in public schools than presently.

Voucher opponents accept these numbers, although they would otherwise burn the Taxpayer Association heads at the stake for opposing them on vouchers.

Accepting the legislative fiscal analysts worst guess to be true, and only 12,000 students leave public schools with a voucher. Assuming that they take the maximum possible voucher dollar of $3,000, the general fund will have $36,000,000 subtracted from it. Utahn's for public schools say we spend $5,397 per student (lower than the estimate of $7,500). Using that number, Public Schools will have $5,397 per student in left their coffers because schools keep the money per student for five years. This comes to $64,764,000 dollars more available for public education to use per year for five years. That's 64 million that was already going to be spent on education for an investment of 36 million that would not have been spent on education.

Of course, of the 2% of students that we think may take advantage of vouchers, how many get the full $3,000? Not 100%, so my 36 million figure is somewhere between 0 and 6 million dollars higher than what will be required.

The question implicit in this is could we spend 36 million more dollars on education and get as much? Doubtful, because the savings for public schools is less when students stay in the program than if they leave, or never show up at all.

What will we do about 150,000 more students in seven years without vouchers?

We may have to find out if vouchers fail next Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Liberal or Progressive, Same Old Nonsense

George Will has weighed in on Utah's voucher vote next Tuesday.

Liberal or Progressive, Same Old Nonsense

Utahns Can Vote For School Choice Tuesday

FYI, John Stossel weighs in on Utah's voucher vote.

Utahns Can Vote for School Choice Tuesday

Monday, October 29, 2007

Scott Briggs Signs No Tax Pledge

Scott Briggs, candidate for NSL City Council, has signed a pledge not to raise taxes. While a breath of fresh air, I hope that Briggs will not sacrifice the perfect for the good in other areas if he wins. Remember, Ron Paul is considered strong as a fiscal conservative by the Club for Growth, but also ineffectual at getting his ideals implemented.

That said, the gauntlet is down for other candidates to show similar spine as Scott Briggs. My thoughts are that none of the NSL candidates should have any hesitation to sign the pledge.

Joint Press Release

October 29, 2007

Contact: Scott Briggs, 801-699-5758

Contact: Ronald Mortensen, 801-927-7916


Briggs Signs CitizenForTaxFairness.org Taxpayer Protection Pledge,

Refuses to Accept funding from Special Interests

Scott Briggs, candidate for North Salt Lake City Council has signed the CitizensForTaxFairness.org Taxpayer Protection Pledge."

Upon signing the pledge, Mr. Briggs stated, "I have constantly told the voters that I oppose taxes so I only found it natural to sign this pledge. Now voters have my word in writing and can hold me accountable if I break it, which I won't."

Mr. Briggs also emphasized that he has refused to accept any donations from special interests. "This puts me at a real disadvantage from a financial standpoint," he said, "but I want to be totally independent to make the best decisions for my constituents in all cases without any possible perception of impropriety."

Ronald Mortensen, CitizensForTaxFairness.org, co-founder noted that Mr. Briggs contacted him and asked to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. "We make the Pledge available to all candidates but during this election cycle we have not aggressively pursued candidates to get them to sign it," said Mortensen. "In Bountiful for example, all candidates have publicly come out in support of tax increases which makes them ineligible to sign it."

When asked what he would do in case of a major emergency impacting North Salt Lake, such as an earthquake, Mr. Briggs responded: "Should a major disaster strike that is exactly the wrong time to raise taxes. How do you raise taxes on families that may have lost everything and are trying to put their lives back together?"

In 2006, when CitizensForTaxFairness.org asked Davis County Commission Candidates to sign the Pledge, all refused.

"Based on our experience with the County Commissioners, it seems that a refusal to sign the P ledge is a good indication that candidates are inclined to vote for higher taxes," said Hugh Williams, a co-founder of CitizensForTaxFairness.org.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Quote of the Day: Virtue and Faith

"I do not think America's condition is hopeless; an alliance in the cause of virtue is still possible. By linking arms with all those who believe in God or adhere to high moral standards, the Saints can help preserve the Constitution and free agency. But it is more important still to nourish the ground from which these men and women of America spring, that ground of faith and conviction from which virtue ultimately grows. The highest kind of political activity, then, is to teach virtue and faith. Ultimately there is no other way to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the freedom which it was established to protect."
Richard L. Bushman --Virtue and the Constitution
"By the Hands of Wise Men" --Essays on the U.S. Constitution

Friday, October 19, 2007

Socialism; Quote Of The Day

I was reminded by one candidate of this quote I had, one time, posted to my blog. It bears repeating.

"Above all, if you wish to be strong, begin by rooting out every particle of socialism that may have crept into your legislation. This will be no light task."
--Frederick Bastiat, 1850 The Law

Suggestion Box: South Davis Candidates

This post is for those who are either running for office, or know someone who is running for office, to get a chance to step up and say why the candidate should be elected. I clearly don't have the time or inclination to investigate fully all candidates that should be under the purview of this blog. It is an unfortunate corollary to living in NSL that I will devote most of my energy to the campaign here.

I do, however, care about the other races. So, if you will leave your comments to this post, we'll see what impact we can have on the election here.

Some suggestions on items you can also leave in the comments include candidate website links, email addresses, and phone numbers for the campaigns.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

NSL Meet The Candidates Night Thoughts

After attending the meet the candidates night tonight, I thought I'd be prepared to give my endorsements.

Frankly, I'm not entirely clear on everyone who will get my vote.

In the Mayoral election, I'll be voting for Schaefermeyer. That, despite the fact that she could not attend tonight. I've paid attention to what she's done as Mayor, as well as her opponent since his unsuccessful run for the county commission. The fact is that the current Mayor is a firebrand and has proven to be a great advocate for this city. She's been in the minority of mayors in this county to oppose excessive taxes and measures that don't benefit North Salt Lake specifically.

I have no doubt that I'll be voting for Ron Gordon. I think his leadership experience, and grasp of logic will be an asset to the city. I don't view him as much of an ideologue-rather, he's someone that holds judgment until he has enough data to act. (Full disclosure: I've had one individual close to Gordon guest blogging for me here on Davis County watch, although they were specifically chosen because they often hold a contrary positions as myself. Guess who?)

I'm also leaning towards Stan Porter. I think we should pick his brain, win or lose, regarding the layout of the city website. For my reasons for this check out his campaign website. If you like parks and trails to be done right, he's your man. He's chairman of the Parks, Trails, and Recreation board. I think he'd be responsible about how city money is spent in this regard. I think it's important to keep the city beautiful, but not to break the bank in the process.

My third choice is the most difficult. I'm shying away from the two retired police officers, Kelly Davis and John Herndon. My impression, I hope is coincidental. (I don't think I have anything against law enforcement.) My initial thought is clouded by the way a question was answered that by each candidate tonight. It was, 'what should the city council do regarding home owners who won't maintain their own property'? The two candidates mirrored each others response stressing, I thought, a bit too much that local ordinances should be enforced, and perhaps enhanced. The other candidates seemed to have a different tact that respect more the property owners prerogative to keep their own place. I think this is an area in which the government should have as light of a touch as possible with respect to individual rights.

More importantly, I don't think Davis or Herndon have enough leadership experience to be effective in their term. Davis described his career in West Valley as being that of a 'worker bee'. I have respect for the work that he's done, and he was quite charismatic when I spoke to him, but I still have doubts. The pamphlet that Davis distributed tonight had a photo of him in his police uniform. It rubbed me the wrong way because I recall Sheriff Cox getting chastised once for campaigning for Sheriff in uniform. I've heard from two individuals that Davis has also been caught inappropriately placing campaign signs prior to 30 days from the election.

That's a violation of city ordinance, by the way.

The youngest candidate was Scott Briggs, weighing in at age 28. I'm quite impressed with his enthusiasm, and charisma, but I wonder if he is going to leave enough of an impression on the electorate to win. He shares the name of a recent, effective, and popular mayor. That could put him in by default, except that I don't think he has put his own name out there enough. He has self-funded his campaign, accepting no donations. If he ever pulls this stunt running for a larger office, then he'll be toast. Donations are one way of demonstrating a candidate has support, although it might give the impression of a candidate encumbered by special interest. That is the cost of running, however. I think politicians can counter that by being virtuous in their personal lives.

You might have guessed that it was Briggs that had lauded Ron Paul, and had led me to worry that Briggs actually thought Paul could win. I really don't think that Briggs is deluded about Paul's chances for the Presidency, but his idealism does give me pause.

Lastly, my first impression of Brian Horrocks was that of a deer in the headlights. The only reason that I suspected that he was a candidate was that he was wearing a suit. When I approached him and introduced myself, I wondered if he was going to slink away after my introduction. He did, however, thoughtfully answer my questions. I think he is plain spoken, I hear he is very conservative, and I sense he is very stable. Predictability is a plus in my book. Some of his activities on the Planning commission are available via google.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Announcing: NSL Meet The Candidates Night

The North Salt Lake Youth City Council and the Adelaide PTA/Community Council will be hosting a Meet the Candidates Night on Thursday October 18th at 6:30 p.m. at Adelaide Elementary.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Election 2007: Local Candidates List--Rough Draft

North Salt Lake

• Shanna Schaefermeyer (mayor)

• Lynn Ballard (mayor)

• John Herndon

• Kelly Davis

• Scott Briggs

Ron Gordon

• Brian Horrocks

• Stan Porter

Woods Cross

• Rick Earnshaw

• Jill Evans

• Cory Green

• David Hill

• Gary Sharp

• Ryan Westergard


• Ken Averett

• Paul A. Cutler

• Lawrence Wright


• John M. (Marc) Knight

• Richard L. Higginson

• Scott C. Myers

• Beth Holbrook

---Some of the below candidates have been whittled down via a primary.

West Bountiful

• James Bruhn

• Alan Malan

• Kenneth Romney

• Jeff Tingey

• Brad Hansen

• Troy D. Larsen

• Joseph Child

• Valerie Shaw

• Roger Wray

10/10 Updated links.

Ron Paul: Beacon Of Fiscal Discipline

I spent more than an hour last night on the phone with a candidate running for city council in North Salt Lake. All considered, I was quite impressed. That is up until he began to cite Ron Paul as an example of what philosophy should be taken in regards to the cities fiscal discipline.

Ron Paul?

"You do realize that Ron Paul doesn't have a chance of winning this election?", I asked. I just wanted to make sure that he wasn't nuts.

He told me he might vote for Paul, but the state was going to vote for Romney anyway, so it wouldn't matter.

True enough.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Quote Of The Day: UTA Tax

"I just feel like UTA is already a tax-generated agency, and here we are creating a county tax that supplements something we're already taxed for, which in general, is something I think is bad government."

North Salt Lake City Council Member, Matt Hardy
Hat tip: Deseret News

Friday, September 28, 2007

Abolish Property Taxes: Reap The Whirlwind

I've heard it suggested that maybe it is time to replace the property tax with a sales tax, or something else. I haven't favored this because it would leave local governments powerless to control revenue. I don't want everything in the hands of the state because then I have to direct all of my ire to the legislature to lower taxes.

That said, Davis county government hasn't shown yet they are qualified to control spending either.

Now the Tax Foundation has sided with me on this.

Before I see property tax abolished, I'll vote the local bums out.

More Property Tax Increases

Legislators may soon require counties to increase their property taxes to increase funding for county health departments. This because federal dollars are getting reduced, or are tied to specific programs according to Dr. Gary House, of the Weber-Morgan County Health Department.

"At the federal level, we're seeing a shift in their funding priorities. We're getting money for things like bioterrorism."

I've heard this argument made before by the Davis County Health Department. They suggest the federal dollars are the reason we should increase funding. I get reimbursed for certain expenses by my employer, so should I be asking for a raise because of how I am paid?

I think that we should have funding for bioterrorism, and for things like pandemics. Is House suggesting otherwise? In my mind the county is perfectly situation to arrange the stockpile of vaccines in a way that the individual cannot. If bird-flu strikes my town, I can't be expected to have a personal supply of vaccine.

The Salt Lake Tribune implied in its reporting that it is the state lawmakers job to "control health spending." This could not be more wrong. How many of our recent property tax increases have come because of the legislature? How many because of the county commission, or school board? Part of the blame for this misconception lies with those who are asking for the mandatory tax increase, however.

Dr. David Blodgett, director of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department asked for a property tax increase, but if not given that, he suggested a tax on cigarettes which could be earmarked for anti-cigarette campaigns and treatment. Is anyone else catching the irony implicit in this suggestion? In fact, the better job the health department did, the worse their funding would get. It would be a completely self-destructive tax if the campaign to eliminate smoking were to succeed.

Clearly, the folks asking for this money haven't thought it through enough.

And, Davis county has already increased funding for the health department, and we can see the results of that increase this year. If the legislature steps in, we'd see another increase next year. This despite the fact that we have a $242 million surplus. Less money than last year, but more than enough to match the $30 million dollars in infrastructure spending that health departments need this year.

"We will have the money to fund the essentials," according to Representative Ron Bigelow.

The Deseret News is reporting that there are $200 million in unspent funds this year from state departments and colleges. From the article.

"It is alarming, some of these large carry-overs, especially two years in a row," said House Majority Leader Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara. "Why do we do this?"

Hat tip: Citizens For Tax Fairness.org

Friday, September 21, 2007

Property Taxes: On Rate Caps

The poll that is currently on the sidebar asks.

"The amount of revenue that the county is allowed to collect is limited by law, but municipalities are not limited. Should the tax revenue that cities are allowed to collect be limited by statute?"
On a closer inspection, I can't figure where I got this idea that municipalities have no cap on their revenue. I was sure that I'd read it in an article, but I can't find the source. I got five responses in favor of capping revenue that flows into city coffers, but my question is not factually based so those are useless results.

The fact is that there is a rate cap on certain things and not on others. For example, flood control has no limit, on the county level. The recreation(???) rate on the city level also has no cap.

Most taxing entities have caps in the code that limit the rate at which we can be taxed. Which ones do not?

More information is available at the state website.(pdf)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hyperbole Of The Day: 'No Brainer'

"This is the biggest 'no brainer' in the history of the Earth."

--Steve Handy, spokesman for the Northern Utah Transportation Alliance on the proposed transit tax hike.
Setting aside the possibility of exaggeration, Is there anything about taxes, or tax increases that should be a 'no brainer'? This should raise a red flag about the proposed transit tax hike.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Vouchers: On Out-Of-State Money

I'm seeing a lot of anti-voucher ads on television. You might be asking, where is all this money coming from? You see, some months ago, criticisms of Parents for Choice were prolific about out-of-state money going into the organizations coffers.

Now, it is Utahn's for Public Education (anti-voucher) getting all of the out-of-state funds. (i.e. 1.5 million dollars from the National Education Association.)

Where are those critics now?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cities Not To Blame For County Tax Increase

Was your vote for local incumbents affected by the County tax increase?

Via The Standard Examiner

Calculation Error: Higher Assesments For Bountiful, NSL


"In that process, appraisers made some data-entry errors, Ivie said, and Bountiful's new growth rate was set at 8 percent - as seen in other parts of the county - rather than the city's actual 4 percent. "
Via SL Tribune

Monday, September 10, 2007

From The Comments: On Incrementalism

This comment from the Utah Taxpayer deserves more daylight than what it is currently getting in my comments section.

"The Davis County Clipper has almost always defended local governments on tax issues, and they are one of the biggest defenders in Utah of incrementalism in which "small" tax increases are consistently passed.

Regarding the 138% property tax increase of a couple of years ago that Koecher is trying to dismiss, the magnitude of the increase wasn't the only problem. The county wanted to impose a permanent tax increase to fund a one-time capital project (jail). Normally, counties issue voter-approved general obligation bonds for capital projects. Once the bond is paid off, the tax increase disappears. However, if the county had prevailed, they would have kept the tax increase even after the jail was paid off.

You can imagine what would happen if every school district, county, city, and special service district raised their taxes PERMANENTLY every time they built or expanded a new building.

Moreover, the county wanted to raise taxes to cover the operation of jail TWO years before the jail opened.

In his role of defending Davis County elected officials, Koecher is hoping that over time Davis County residents will have forgotten what happened."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Koecher To Stephenson: Comments Made Years Ago Unfair

Rolf Koecher has an interesting take on what is an appropriate tax increase.

He begins by saying that he was "personally upset" with the Utah Taxpayers Association President, Howard Stevenson, for targeting Davis County some years ago with a criticism of our tax increases.

Stephenson said that our elected officials were "out of control" Koecher says,

"It wasn’t out of control then, and his statement was vastly unfair.
This year, however, I wouldn’t be as quick to challenge him if he made the same comments." (italics mine)
Of course, Stephenson, in 2003, was talking about the attempt made to increase our taxes by 138 percent.


Koecher goes on to say that some taxes are fair by virtue of being small. The corollary is that large taxes would be unfair. Koecher says he can see why residents would think taxes to be unfair in the last two years, but, somehow he doesn't see the increase of 138 percent as a problem. In fact, he doesn't even acknowledge that Stephenson was talking about a huge tax hike in 2003 when he made his comment.

Koecher lets us know that he favors the RAP tax because it would be "so small".

Here is what Mike Jerman, also of the Utah Taxpayers association, has to say about "small" tax increases.
Mike Jerman, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, said
the gamut of new taxes ranging from the mosquito abatement tax in
Salt Lake City to the fire district tax in Park City represent a growing
Utah trend toward hitting residents with lots of small fees and taxes.
The smaller taxes, he said, are easier to pass because they meet less
opposition from residents than do single, large taxes.
Jerman equated the tax levying approach to the old boiling a frog
analogy: Throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out. Put a
frog in a pot of cold water and bring the heat up slowly, "the frog
doesn't realize it's being boiled," he said.
The trouble with that method, Jerman added, is that people notice the
heat of being nickeled and dimed eventually.

In the interest of full disclosure, Koecher hasn't said a single nice thing about me, and I have both opposed and agreed with him on separate occasions.

Davis Candidates Running For Local Office

Via the Clipper

Friday, September 07, 2007

Announcing: Special Tax Meeting

Meeting on taxes
September 11th at 7:00 PM
Bountiful library
725 S. Main St

Organizer: Tatiana Milne
Community tax meeting next Tuesday

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Response To Three Anti-Voucher Facts

Let me respond to three arguments that are coming out of the anti-voucher camp that are factually based.

Vouchers are a subsidy.

True, vouchers would be money applied by the government to the private sector that benefits the public. Voucher supporters usually respond that this is a lot like what the government currently does with public education. There are differences, however. Public education is not only funded by the government, it is also administered by the government. Usually, fiscal conservatives oppose subsidies because it puts the government in the position to choose which private ventures will succeed or fail. In the case of education, however, the government is already doing this. Private schools are at a disadvantage to public schools, because of the government, in that they can fail if the money dries up. Public education funding does not fail. It may come short of expectations, but accounts remain stocked with taxpayer dollars.

Can you imagine a circumstance under which public education fails to get any funding?

Voucher money will go to religious schools

Voucher money will go to some non-secular schools as well as secular schools. This falls short of an endorsement of one religion over another by the government because it is parents that will choose where the dollars go, not the government. If vouchers pass in November, voucher opponents may choose to use the courts to argue this point. The courts will have to decide whether having parents as the intermediary between the government and private schools is enough to leave vouchers in place.

Vouchers will not create diversity

Let me tell you two other things that tend toward greater homogeneity. Where we live, and with whom we live. People of certain socio-economic classes tend to live in the same neighborhoods, and people generally choose to marry those of the same age, race, and status. The children born to us tend to be genetically, and ideologically like us. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, unless you can think of a reason that children should not look like their parents.

There is an interesting side-effect of all of this. Public school boundaries are generally drawn to enclose an area, as opposed to cherry-picking children from different areas. As a result public schools lack the very diversity that voucher opponents value so highly. Private schools, on the other hand, draw their students from larger geographical areas--an effect of their being fewer public, than private schools. Even middle, and lower, class students can attend private school if their families will make the requisite sacrifices (think of the big screen T.V. housed within a mobile home).

NSL Development: What To Do?

North Salt Lake is weighing its options on what to do with the 13 undeveloped acres of land near the Bonneville Shoreline.

What should be done with that land?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

North Salt Lake In Discussion Over Library

They have a novel idea on how to do it.

Don't raise taxes. Save for the future!

What a strange idea.


via Deseret News.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Kill The RAP

Don't let your taxpayer dollars fund your hobby. Don't let them fund someone else's hobby.

Say no to RAP

SLTrib:S. Davis Arts Center plans remain in flux

RAP Tax: Poll Results

In 2004 a RAP tax was defeated by the electorate in Davis County. This November a .1 percent RAP tax will be on the ballot again

  1. I oppose the RAP tax 5 (83%)
  2. I favor the RAP tax 1 (16%)
  3. I don't know what RAP means 0 (0%)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

RAP:NSL And Farmington Have Good Priorities

Kudos go to the city councils for North Salt Lake and Farmington who recently refused to put the RAP tax on Novembers ballot.

Keep up the good work! Special Interest groups ought not to receive taxpayer funding.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Davis County Enacts 37 Percent Tax Hike

I knew this was going to happen.

A one-time abatement given to some Davis County residents will do nothing to the counties bottom line. Next year, the full tax burden of this tax increase will be felt again. Some, next year, will see their valuations rise and feel the pain that both Bountiful, and North Salt Lake thought belonged exclusively to them.

Will residents whose home values will go up next year get anything for their suffering?


Those residents who benefit from the abatement this year on their property taxes will get the full tax bill next year.

The county isn't about to draw any attention to this fact. They are keeping quite and letting the taxpayers think that they were heard at the taxation hearing.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Am Not Alone

It's about taxes not assessments.

Jeremy Manning and the Utah Rattler agree.

Tell the county that you want last years tax increase reversed!

County Tax Relief Solves Nothing

I should mention one thing regarding the steps the county commission is taking this year to give tax relief. It will only affect this years tax payment.

Next year you will have as high, or higher, of a property tax bill to pay.

I'll say it again. The problem is not assessments, but taxes.

The only real solution is to reverse last years tax increase!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Davis Tax Relief In Sight, On Your Site

I can't help but think that the Commission missed the boat on this one(DesNews). The underlying problem is not the assessment, but the tax increase. Regardless, they are addressing the concerns expressed by the citizens at the "Truth in Taxation" hearing. I wish they had read between the lines a bit more, however.

"Values for residential property in Davis County went up an average of 19.4 percent this year, and tax increases by four taxing entities are expected to hit some residents' pretty hard.

Davis County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings said some residents saw their property values double, and others saw 50 percent increases.

But anyone whose values went up 24 percent or more over the past two years, which is the average increase for the past two years, will be eligible for the abatement.

For every $20,000 in market value over that 24 percent increase, the county is proposing to reduce property taxes by $100."

Hat tip: My father

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The "Bountiful" Recreation Center

This is just so much water under the bridge now that its hardly worth mentioning except for its educational value. I was having a conversation the other day about the Bountiful Rec Center and was informed that the pool is always crowded with people and that it could have been made larger.

My question is--you know how you come up with the perfect thing to say a week later. My question is this, How many of those crowding into the pool live in the Bountiful area? How many live in one of the other four cities? There is a law of proximity here. Those closest to the center will gather there the most. Bountiful has enough residents to fill the facility of its own accord. Some would say that Bountiful is central to the five cities, but there is still a better way to place a pool. Centerville is central to itself. North Salt Lake, Woods Cross, West Bountiful all could have had their own smaller pools. Each of these cities would have been better off dividing the 23 million dollars five ways and building five 4 million dollar facilities. I wonder if that is why North Salt Lake city was the only one to vote against the tax--My city is, as a whole, is furthest from the facility.

It looks like Bountiful figures as the big winner in this tale.

Utah Site Visit 2007: Question Answered

I asked a question about un-funded mandates of the legislature and received this response.

Utah Site Visit 2007:Un-funded Mandates

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Announcing: Utah Site Visit--An Online Townhall

Go check out Utah Site Visit! It is the place to ask questions, or make comments to your state legislators. I've posted a question already, which hopefully gets some good play, and you should too.

RAP Tax Defined

A RAP tax (Recreation, Arts, Parks) is, by design, a way that certain aficionados of the arts shift the funding of their passion from themselves to everyone else. It falls into the category of 'legal plunder' that was defined by Bastiat 150 years ago. I think that I will always oppose these taxes for that reason. There is no cause for someone who enjoys the arts, and currently has access to them, to shift the burden for funding them to the taxpayers.

If Bountiful City wants to get a RAP tax going, let them leave the other cities alone. North Salt Lake's Mayor Schaefermeyer has already come out in opposition to this tax.

Polling Glitch: RAP Tax

Earlier this morning I posted a poll on the RAP tax, but have had to take it down because of some technical difficulties. The polling engine that Blogger uses only allows so much space for text, and I was running off the page.

I'll rephrase the question and repost the poll.

Standard Examiner: Davis County Elected Officials: Tax and Spend Liberals

I awoke prepared to give a rundown of the tax increases we've seen in this county over the last five years only to find that it had been done for me.

This Op-Ed, by Ron Mortensen, in the Standard Examiner tells the tale.

Standard Examiner: Davis County Elected Officials: Tax and Spend Liberals?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Poll Results: Lame-Duck Tax Increase

In December, a Lame-Duck Commission approved a 49.5% increase for Jail Expansion, Flood prevention, and Senior Services.

  • I supported the tax increase....3 (13%)
  • I opposed the tax increase....14 (63%)
  • I supported part of the tax increase....3 (13%)
  • What tax increase?....2 (9%)
Votes taken: 22

RAP Tax: Rumors Of Its Death

Why is North Salt Lake consistently opposed to tax and fee increases in this county?

That is the question that, I'm sure, Bountiful, and other city officials ask when it comes time to promote the next "best" increase for someone's pet project.

North Salt Lake opposed the fee increase for transportation corridor preservation. They now oppose the RAP tax, and the city residents were the only city to vote against the Recreation Center. The Utah Rattler first pointed out the hypocrisy of Bountiful's opposition to the County tax increase/property valuations. Of course we ought to side with Bountiful when they are right.

I'm glad that I live in a city that bucks trends towards higher taxes and fees. This city fights, not only, for its own best interest, but for its residents sound finances.

Mayor Schaefermeyer deserves a big star for her efforts and leadership.

Hat tip: Utah Rattler.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Truth In Taxation: Listening To The Public

I went to the tax hearing tonight, and I have decided to offer some suggestions for those who wish to speak at a County "Truth in Taxation" hearing in the future.

If your home just got assessed at a higher value than before.

  • Don't say, "This assessment is unfair".
  • Do say, "This tax is unfair".
  • Don't say, "The schools here are built like the Taj Mahal"
  • Do say, "The Jail is a Taj Mahal"
Now let me explain. Assessments don't matter one iota if the taxes are unfair. Your home could be worth a dime and if the county takes half of it to pay for wasteful projects, then it is the tax you should protest, not the assessment!

The reason we don't talk about the cost of schools in front of the commission is that the school board is their own taxing entity. Please, please attend school board meetings when you can and tell them about their boondoggles. Use the passion that you expressed tonight to show the school board their impact on your lives. The jail, or the Conference Center, or anything else under the county purview is fair game for discussion when at a commission meeting.

Now I think that this commission did hear the people, but they were clumsy at responding. I have some suggestions for the elected officials there tonight. These hearings are not for the elected officials to "educated" the people. It is for the elected to listen to those who elected them. The citizenry may get technical details wrong, but it is their will that should give direction to your actions. You are elected to learn the details, and know how to carry it out. If you were elected to do a $100,000 a year job, then give us just that much value in return. (An aside, it seems that this commission may be voting in the future for a pay cut for themselves. Or, so it would seem.)

Now, I had to leave at 8:00 P.M. so I missed a vote from this commission, but I think they probably tabled the vote until they could reconsider the particulars of this budget, and perhaps the previously passed tax increase. Hopefully, they will use their intelligence to carry out the will of the people.

It is clear what the people want. When a gym full of mostly senior citizens show up to take back control of their lives, then the commission would be remiss not to give something back.

Something like those excess tax dollars!

(Note: if you went to the meeting tonight and can report on what occurred-especially after I left then please leave a comment)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Property Tax Hearings: Spitting Into The Wind

I've been debating whether it is worth my time to attend the County hearing tomorrow night as I had planned. I am coming off a little shrill on my blog as I get closer to this event, and I'm not sure that I'm going to have an impact this time. Here is why.

  • I never got a response to my email sent a week ago, to the commission, on the proposed budget.
  • The most logical move for the commission, given that they remained silent on the tax increase, is to increase the budget to the levels requested. This translates into a nearly 50 percent increase in spending this year over last.
  • Although, there were a dozen responses to my poll indicating opinion is firmly against the budget increase, and last December's attendants to the "Truth in Taxation Hearing" were overwhelmingly opposed to the increase, the commission voted in the increase. The current commission have remained silent on that fact--even now.

Reducing County Taxes: A New York Case Study

Oneida County, in New York State, has spent the last couple years, reducing spending in order to give taxes back.

That's right! I said New York.

In a press release in 2005, the current county leadership announced it had cut county jobs, and despite the unfunded mandates passed down by the State, kept tax increases down. Said the county executive at that time.

"This is a time of great opportunity here in Oneida County and we need to nurture this growth to attract more jobs and people," Griffo added. "The long-term future of Oneida County rests in making this a place where people want to live, work and build. Our county’s growth in jobs can spur home sales. We want low property tax rates to make that growth even better."
That was 2005. What about 2007? The new county executive has delivered and has promised the following.
  • I will not raise property taxes.
  • I will continue to eliminate positions.
  • I will continue to hold down general fund spending.
Those who favor high taxes may remind me that this New York County benefited from tobacco settlement money.

This is true, however the county continues to cut county jobs to favor growth. The private sector there provided more than a thousand new jobs in 2005. That is the kind of shift we should want to see here. The more government jobs are traded in for private jobs the better!
"Taxes do not occur in a vacuum. The people who pay taxes are facing increased prices
for basic foods such as bread, and gasoline prices that are still above where they were three years
ago. Senior citizens are getting Social Security increases that don’t keep pace with the cost of
living. Taxpayers should not give the government more because it means giving their families
This rhetoric has been matched by action in New York. We can do the same here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Property Taxes: Justifications

Thanks to Jeremy for balancing out the property tax discussion. As he works for the County Assessors Office that is a good thing.

Jeremy links to this editorial by the Standard Examiner.

"In other words, if you don't want to pay higher taxes for the new jail, figure out a way to keep your kids and your neighbors from breaking the law and having to be locked up. And, while you're at it, tell the school district that it doesn't get any increased funding for new schools to educate the waves of children who arrive expecting to be educated every year. And just learn to make do with antiquated flood control as new subdivisions and shopping centers grow like weeds across all available open land.

And tell senior citizens they won't be getting any increases in funding for their programs and needs, even though their numbers are skyrocketing, too.

Somehow, we don't think those arguments are going to fly. It makes for great campaign sloganeering and anti-government bellowing to complain about higher taxes, but where would you make the cuts? The kids? The seniors? Public safety? Public health?"

Somehow I don't think that this editorials main argument flies. Mainly because they are asking the wrong questions. Here is what I would ask.

Is the government able to do the thing that it wants better than the private sector? Is the government able to pay for what it must provide, without raising taxes? By providing these services, will the government foster dependency upon the government that would not exist otherwise?

Y-intercept argues that "You should never have to raise taxes to pay for maintenance." I agree. The reasons we do raise taxes for such things are summarized on todays post.
"If you do, it generally means one of two things. Either the people who planned the infrastructure in the first place did a really bad job. The more likely scenario is that politicians diverted the budget set aside for maintenance to other less worthy projects."
The Standard argues that 'seniors needs are skyrocketing too'. Again, we have a lot of senior citizens in the county. They have to pay taxes too! Are we creating a class of people that must depend upon the government for survival?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Oppose Tax Increase: Eight Days Left

You may not have seen the poll that's running on the sidebar of this blog. There are only fourteen votes so far. Please take the opportunity to vote now if you haven't already. If you have voted, and can figure out a way to cheat, please vote against the tax increase that happened last December!

Keep in mind, there is an inaccuracy on the poll indicating that the tax increase was 49.5%, but that is actually the budgetary spending increase.

Property Tax Relay: Passing The Baton

The Utah Rattler has picked up on the property tax meme, following closely on the heels of the Utah Taxpayer, and Jeremy's Jeremiad.

One more link needs to go the Citizens For Tax Fairness.

Thanks for your attention to this important issue.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Utah Taxpayer To Discuss Property Taxes

Utah Taxpayer has teased us with a discussion on "Truth in Taxation", and whether we need a Proposition 13 in Utah.

I look forward to the next two weeks.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Beware of bloggers who weave...a web of deception

Brad Gillman's article is now up on the Standard Examiner. Take a look! It provides a good overview of the mixed bag that is, 'the blog'. I am surprised about how many of my quotes made it into the article.

Thank you Brad for the interesting read.

Friday, July 27, 2007

An Open Letter To The Davis County Commission

I'm concerned about the recent notice informing us of a proposed 49.5% increase in the county budget. Of course, this follows a tax increase implemented by a lame-duck commission last December. My question is why is the current commission taking its marching orders, by increasing spending, from a body of people that no longer convene? The move of the former commission was so unpopular with the public that there were only two out of a dozen people that spoke in favor of the tax at the hearing.

It could be said of Commissioner Milburn, that he had a mandate to act to keep spending low, considering how smartly he beat the incumbent, Mr. McConkie, while campaigning on the issue of low taxes. It seems, however, that he is more interested in passing accountability onto the citizenry when he says that tax hearings are "an opportunity for the residents to do their own prioritization."

I would hope that this newly elected body would begin their public service more modestly, and restrict spending. Note, we, in the south part of the county recently received our new property assessments and found that the value of our homes have increased greatly. Our personal budgetary concerns are high enough without the new high watermark set by an increase in this years budget. What will be required in taxes from us in future years if we ratchet up our spending now?

Let me remind you that the former body of commissioners have no authority to mandate how you spend our taxes. They acted contrary to the will of the people in raising taxes, and you would be remiss to ignore us now.

Tyler Farrer

Property Taxes: Four Points Of Pain

There are four principles at play here with our property taxes that ought to be addressed.

First, most of the south end of Davis County had their assessed property values go up this year. For me, I'll pay $300 more dollars than last. Many will pay more than that. I think it's only fair to be taxed on the correct value of your home. That's a real number, and the fact that so many got reassessed just goes to show the good work that our County Assessor is doing.

This brings me to point two. There is only so much money more than the previous years budget that the county is allowed to take in. This means that with the many reassessments that happened, and home values increasing, the county is going to have to lower the county portion of the tax rate. But the solution to this problem is intrinsically unfair to the individual, while it is balanced in the favor of the larger population. Let's say that half the county had their home values increase and now pay more. When the rates are lowered, the half whose home values stay the same will have a disproportionate amount of money flowing back their way. $100 of my dollars, for example, could flow into the bank of someone, let's call him Joe, who did not earn that $100. Now next year, hypothetically, my home is not reassessed at a higher value and Joe's $100 flows back to me. There are some who would say that both Joe and I profited in the exchange!

When money travels via government channels there is no such thing as a profit, only plunder! Bastiat called it "legalized plunder". It is the taking of money from one who earned it to give to another that did not earn it.

Point three is that, last December, the retiring county commission voted to increase taxes by 32%. As their terms expired they spread a myth that because actual dollars flowing into the coffers of the county from a tax increase is less than the dollars coming in from county growth that the tax was small! They said that the tax increase was insignificant!

The tax increase was a 32% increase, and that is statistically significant no matter how you fudge the numbers!

Point four is that what naturally flows from a tax increase, with extra dollars flooding in, is an increase in expenditures. This new commission intends to vote to increase spending by 49.5%. This spending increase, plus the tax increase, is a slap in the face to those of us who are now paying on more valuable properties than last year. It is an affront to those who just purchased a home in the county for the first time this year when the housing market was hot! It's offensive to those whose home assessments increase by 250% this year(as happened to my brother). It will prevent people from moving here that would otherwise, and it will give incentives for others to leave the county.

It has been pointed out to me that Davis County is second in our senior citizen population only to Washington County. This means that there is a high number of seniors on fixed incomes that will have to rely upon the government if the county increases spending. We can let these folks pay for themselves by keeping their taxes low, or we can push them into the open arms of the government.

Just don't tell me that they will profit by it, as the county did last December!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dealing With Growth In Government

I'm not endorsing Rudy for President--In fact, this is not the venue for a discussion of a Federal office. I'm fully behind someone else, in truth. (Note: comments to this post about Presidential politics, unrelated to local issues, will be ridiculed at best, and deleted at worst. You have been warned!). However, Rudy as Mayor of New York City did some things I'd like to see imitated locally.

Here is the audio from an ad running now in Iowa. Here is a whiff of it.

"I was given a report, shortly after I was Mayor-Elect, and the report was all of the things that should be done to take New York City out of the deficit. The biggest ones were raise taxes. They asked me what I was going to do with the report..."
Now ask yourself, WWRD? (What would Rudy do)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lame-Ducks Tax: Sophmore Commission Spends

Remember the Average value of a home in Davis County last December was 180,000? That estimate has gone up in eight short months to 210,000.

That's good right?

Not if you live in Davis County.

The County has reassessed the values of homes in South Davis County this year, and has jumped at the opportunity to increase spending to match. They want to increase spending by nearly 50%.

I will pay 303.13 more this year, than last, if the new budget is approved! That is remarkably higher than the average 61.79 on a $210,000 residence. And, my home's value is below average.

If the budget increase is not approved, I will pay 90.64 less than if it is not.

What will the county tell me if I ask?

'Well, you'll be paying $30 of $90 to the School District. It's not our fault. You're only paying us $53.64!'

My problem is that I can't afford to increase my tax budget by 50%! Not without cutting something else. $300 dollars is the cost of an affordable bathtub. $300 is an annual membership for one person at the Bountiful Rec Center.

Fun With Polls

Blogger has added a polling engine, which I'm now testing. You may remember that I garnered some local fame for admitting to hacking a local Clipper poll.

Of course, lots of folks hacked that poll, but I alone admitted to it.

Just understand that I have very little faith in the legitimacy of this poll that I will be running. If you hack it, then it will be fairly obvious.

I think it more than likely that I will only have one or two votes anyway.

Update: I see two votes! I can sleep tonight.

Update: It's been pointed out to me that the 49.5% increase is not a tax increase, but an increase in this years proposed budget! This is far more damning for the current commission than the lame-duck commission! The County portion of the increase approved last December is actually 32.3%.

Did your spending this year increase by 50%?

It seems that there are none innocent in this affair!

Reminder: Tax Increase Hearing

August 9, 2007 @ 6:00 PM – Approve Tax Rates
at Farmington Junior High School
150 South 200 West, Farmington, Utah.(pdf)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Centerville Citizen Breakdown

It appears that WP at Centerville Citizen has had enough and has shutdown his political site.

I don't know when the funeral arrangements will be final.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Effects Of Blogs On Politics

I had a talk with Brad Gillman of the Standard Examiner, this afternoon, giving my thoughts on what I think of the Blogging phenomenon, and its implications for the political sphere. It will be interesting to see how his article turns out!

Final Hearing On Property Tax Increase

Date/Time: August 9, 2007 at 6:00 PM
Location: Farmington Junior High School
150 South 200 West
Farmington, Utah
To obtain more information regarding the tax increase, citizens
may contact Davis County at (801) 4513222.

All public hearings allow the taxpayer to make their voices heard, although this one may more of an education for the new County Commissioners. These Commissioners did not have the luxury of deciding on the tax, but must now live with the consequences of a tax increase.

Hat tip: Davis County Website

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Spending Your Childrens Future

If the board approves the local tax increase, it would mean homeowners would pay an additional $17 a year on a $190,000 home, which is estimated to be a median-priced home in Davis County. Board members are trying to be cautious about raising property taxes, but they need the money for the $555 million budget for the 2007-2008 year to work.
[italics are mine]

Translation: Davis County School Board has budgeted for money that is not there. When private citizens do that, they end up in the poor house. I'm anticipating a pay raise this summer, but if I put in a pool on that assumption, I'd have to send my crazy cousin Eddie to kidnap my boss.

Hat tip: UtahRattler

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fairness Doctorine: The End Of The "Long Tail"

I'm not going to talk about the immigration--now dead--bill here. What I will mention is what Steve Uruqhart, so expertly, summarized on his latest post.

The after effects of a killed bill.

Because the U.S. Senate has been burned by the public it could not serve, it will likely retaliate by severely limiting free speech by the new media. This means that local bloggers like me, that haven't said word one against the actions of a few Senators, will suffer--that is unless we in the new media can unite against the onslaught. Urquhart laid out the strategy in this way.

"Magnanimous in victory, the people must do two things. First, the people should lift the Senate, help it dust itself off, and send it on the right path, by embracing Senators who engage directly with the people. It’s a new thing to them. Efforts should be generously rewarded. On the other hand, the first Senator who makes any motion toward silencing the dialogue should be stepped on immediately."
To those who would impose a bastardized "fairness doctorine" on bloggers, take note. We are not going to take this sitting down. Those of us that formerly kept clear of the immigration debate will join with immigration pundits and form something greater, and more potent than has ever been seen before.

What those that tried the jam down of the failed immigration reform did not realize is the power behind "the long tail". What lawmakers must soon learn is that the new media is born out of infinite variety. Any attempt to limit, restrict, or grant the power of the new media to an ordained elite will result in a deadly whiplash.

If the Senate thought that the outcry of a few political junkies was bad, just wait until they excite the ire of every little narrowcaster out there.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

This is good. The State School Board has their organization. Now legislators have one too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This November we'll get a chance to vote on a 25 cent tax increase earmarked for transportation. The Utah Taxpayer has already come out against it. Not surprisingly, the County Commission of Davis County has been heard giving such illuminating pearls as follows.

Well, with informational quotations such as this, I'm glad that Utah Taxpayer is weighing in with some logic.
"Raising sales taxes for transportation is a bad idea. Increased sales taxes do not encourage commuters to change driving habits by telecommuting, carpooling or living closer to work."

When Local Bloggers Attack...

Fight back.

Mark Towner rarely comes up with any original content on his site, meaning he copies wholesale from other sources, but when he does can you say "lawsuit"?

He plans to sue another local blogger, Jesse Harris for "slander"(Does he mean libel?). Jesse isn't taking this sitting down, and plans to fight back.

Is it any wonder that Towner has garnered so many enemies, both liberal and conservative?

Voter's Shoot Down Pool

Right now I'm pining for an alternate universe in which the citizens in this County base decisions on what makes a better government, instead of a bigger pool. Recently, North Ogden residents voted no on an initiative to expand the swimming facility for the city.

Rightly so.

That being said, I'm still the go-to place if you want information on the South Davis Recreation Center. I beg of anyone to tell me whether a used boondoggle is a better boondoggle. I'm not sure I can wrap my head around that concept.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Voucher Proponents Playbook

The Coolest Family Ever picked up on my voucher end-game post and elaborated on some key ideas pertinent to vouchers.

I point you to this, not because I have proven to be the fastest draw in the west on the Jonah Goldberg piece, but because Jesse has been extremely thoughtful and detailed in his post.

It's a good read.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Use For The Second Amendment

It's time to be like Mitt and get out your varmint gun.

See, the county is going to start charging residents to euthenize raccoons and the like.

It'll be cheaper to just do 'em in yourself.

Please, please leave the Guatemalans alone! They worked hard to get to your front lawn. They've been through enough.

One More Bigot

After I learned of my own bigotry regarding skaters, I took comfort in one thing.

I'm only one skater bigot.

Now there are at least two such bigots. The other is Mayor Tom Dolan, who bears a certain resemblance to a Mr. Moneybags. He has shut down a skate park in Sandy until its patrons can show more "discipline".

See that's bigoted to call skaters 'undisciplined' like that.

The Mayor should know that, but he's gone and crossed a minority group anyway. What's even more disconcerting is the photo showing Sandy's skate park is behind a fence.

That concerns me because North Salt Lake wants to fence in the skate park to improve the situation and ease tensions between skaters and other groups. It would ease my mind just knowing that a cage like this existed.

Or would it?

Now I understand that Dolan isn't satisfied with a cage, I probably won't be either.

People with prejudices simply cannot be appeased.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Steering County Growth

SL Trib on County growing pains.

"Being Painted Strange"

An interview with Steve Urquhart has been posted on The Blau Exchange. One thing that Urquhart knows, despite how he has been 'painted' by opponents, is how to employ technology to make the legislative process more transparent to all.

Hat tip: Steve Urquhart

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Foul, Reeking, Pollution

My family went to Hatch park last night and encountered a foul-mouthed teenager that made me cringe. Those were not words I wanted to teach my kids.

How many times does approaching a person and asking them kindly to stop just lead to more profanity, or ridicule?

I didn't ever find out if my politely asking would have ended the infraction because the kids stopped swearing before I could get over to them.

On a similar note, the Davis County Health Department has banned smoking in public. (Golfers remain unprotected by Daddy-County Health).

We don't ban the exhaust from automobiles, and we don't ban refineries.

What do you think?

The Pitfalls Of Democracies Vs. Republics

There were two dissenting votes to a resolution urging the implementation of a $10 transportation fee. Both the Mayor of North Salt Lake and Clinton argued against the fee.

I wonder how they would feel about a vote on a .25 cent sales tax hike coming in November?

I don't, frankly, know how I feel about these votes--Referendum or Initiative that take accountability from the elected and place it squarely no one.

I mean, are we supposed to hold the anonymous voter accountable?

Voucher Supporters: Court Ruling Could Have Been Worse

Freshman Legislator, Kay McIff(R) isn't off to the most conservative start at the Utah House of Representatives. McIff is lockstep with another Republican of questionable conservative credentials, Sheryl Allen, and ranks under the top three most conservative Democrats.

Before I'm accused of breaking the eleventh commandment, I'll take a divergent course and talk about vouchers and which tactics are intellectually honest. McIff had suggested, before the Supreme Court offered clarification, that the legislature ought to take care of the voucher issue by forgetting that they ever had passed an amendment.

Reasonable people, have, and will disagree about this idea. The ultimate result of the court decision accomplished nearly what McIff had suggested. I say nearly, because the amendment comes back if the voters support the primary voucher law in November. Under McIff's proposal it would not. But, the court's motives and purpose were also different than McIff and his cohorts. The court argued that the amendment could not stand alone due to a question of process, not a question of outcome. The Supreme Court did not, or should not, care whether or not vouchers are ultimately passed. The court ought not to consider whether the law is nice, but only whether it is constitutional.

McIff, it appears, had a different idea about why the second amendment bill should be eliminated. His reason, it seems clear, was to make the voucher law a better target for those who wish to kill it.

I have two reasons that support the above assertion. One, the amendment bill was passed to satisfy the demands of those now opposed to the voucher law. (Suddenly they want to get rid of it?) Two, under McIff's plan, the voucher law would have been less palatable then it is now under the courts ruling. McIff is openly opposed to the voucher law, and wants its repeal.

So, despite what some might say, the supreme court decision was not a clear win for voucher opponents. The next battle will be decided, very clearly, at the ballot box in November.

Note: I have previously praised McIff for taking the high road, and I'm open to the possibility of praising him once again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Do Away With Public Schools?

Of all places, I found a conservative article in the L.A. Times, and by noted columnist Jonah Goldberg to boot!

That being said, what Goldberg is suggesting may not make it into your particular medicine bag. I give it here as food for thought, without commentary. (Though, you've had much commentary from me on the subject before, so you might...might guess my view. But, then again, you've been wrong before.)

L.A. Times: Do away with public schools

Monday, June 11, 2007

Legacy Highway Moving

Legacy Highway is progressing, beginning in North Salt Lake.

Hat tip: Deseret News"

And That Means What?

"We talked about several concerns in [closed] executive session"

--Councilman Lynn Ballard on why he dissented on Gravel Pit development.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Vouchers: Back To The Nitty Gritty

Now that we know the effect of an up or down vote on Vouchers, it's back to the Pro's and Con's.

Representative Dougall has a nice rebuttal of some common anti-voucher arguments. Although, his parenthetical comments on number five shed more heat than light.

Clarity (From Me) On Vouchers

Let me make my feelings clear on the courts voucher ruling.

  1. The Utah Supreme Court was right to rule in the way that they did, although I favor vouchers.
  2. The Supreme Court ought to be originalist in their reading of the law, not activist.
  3. The Governor showed no spine in pushing the decision on the wrong branch of government. (The right branch would be the Legislature)
  4. Blame for the voucher law confusion falls upon the heads of the legislature, not those that produced the referendum. Initiative, or referendum, do not a clear, or murky, law make.
  5. As many as can vote should vote in November.

Clearing The Air On Judicial Activism

It has been said that it is the pro-voucher folks who favor judicial activism, but I have cited one case of an anti-voucher person, Earl Christenson, who asked the Utah Supreme Court in testimony to be activist.

Please tell me who on the pro-voucher side is also pro-judicial activism?

Judical Activism: Who is Earl Christensen?

  • He has clients who initiated the voucher referendum process.
  • He spoke to the Utah Supreme Court as a 'party of interest'.
  • He wanted the Court to be Activist by changing the ballot language when two Justices said the Court had no authority to do so.
  • He said, "I don't think that the Legislature is the appropriate place to correct this".

Listen and decide, but he doesn't sound pro-voucher to me.

Utah Supreme Court Dismisses Judicial Activism Request

Please take careful note of this exchange between Mr. Christenson, and Justice Wilkins. (My apologies on my spelling, I transcribed this myself).

Justice Wilkins: "Mister Christenson, the difficulty that we face, obviously, is that the ballot title statute limits our legal authority to modify ballot title to 'patent falsehood, or bias'. Is there something about the ballot title that is either 'patently false, or biased'?"

Christenson: "I do understand that limitation, but I think this case is so unique, and so unusual, that to simply submit the form of 148 to the voters without their knowing the effect of their vote--that of course could come later in a subsequent proceeding-- but, it will chill the enthusiasm for people involved in this vital issue. It will probably limit the voter out turn, and I think this court has the power. It's been given this task by the legislature. This court has the power to say that under these very unusual circumstances--uh, I have not seen a case like this--"

Justice: "Uh, we have! Not..not with this many folks. But, everyone that comes to us with a ballot title concern feels just as vitally concerned as you and your folks do. And, um, the legislature has given us authority by statute to address it, but they have severely limited that authority, and if you want us to do something that's outside that authority you better help us find a way to do it!"
The Justice is right that it is not the courts place to legislate. Of course, the court has subsequently found that HB 174 does not stand on its own. Go here to listen to the whole exchange yourself.

I agree with the court that the legislature has created this mess by not being clear in the two bills. The Governor should have jumped in and called a special session for the purpose of clearing the air.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Do Unions Help Anyone?

17 out of 900 Davis County employees have joined a union, the U.A.G.E. which represents government employees from Salt Lake through Ogden. The question is, is this helpful to county employees and the county itself?

Unions seem to be a dinosaur that has outlived its usefulness. Of course, government can be antediluvian too. My reading says that unions can save a persons job if it is in jeopardy, raising the point that some jobs may not be worth saving--a government job worth saving? Unions can negotiate higher wages, or it can do what it has done for unionized teachers and pit the administrations best interests against those of the teachers. Which is why school administrators count themselves among the number of teachers, when the legislature is passing out 'teacher' raises.

Unions participate in politics in a very partisan way, entrenching its members in political movements that may not enrich anyone but the union.

I'll say it again. Who is helped by unions?

Contact Info: South Davis Recreation Center

550 North 200 West
Bountiful, UT 84010
Phone: 801-298-6220
www.southdavisrecreation.com (redirects to www.activityreg.com)

Office Hours:
Mon.-Fri. 5am-9pm
Sat. 6am-9pm
Sun. 11am-4pm

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Keeping Tabs On Vouchers

How many of you are reeling, as I am, from the slings and arrows cast in the last week on the voucher imbroglio?

This is the problem with the 24 hour news cycle. There is often no time to sort things out. Well, consider this moment, an eddy on the river of the news from which you can rest your paddles, and long for the days of yore when the news blackened your fingers instead of your thoughts.

The Players

  • Steve Urquhart -- Legislator, Attorney, and Sponsor of the Voucher Bills/Laws
  • Kim Burningham --Not only the Chairman of the State School Board, but a founding member of Utahns for Public Schools. Burningham presided over the board on a controversial decision to hold the Voucher law implementation until answers could be given to the board.
  • Parents For Choice in Education--Non-profit, funded from outside of Utah, but founded by two Utah entrepreneurs, and heavy contributer to the campaigns of voucher supporters. Most notably, Kim Burningham's opponent in this last election. Clearly, if they are conspiring, they were not very good at ousting the entrenched Burningham, although they have waxed the proverbial floor with others.
  • Utah Supreme Court (less Chief Justice Christine Durham) will hear arguments from both sides on June 8th.
  • Democratic Legislature--A group unanimously opposed, not only to vouchers, but to those who promote them.
  • The Senate Site--Not the Republicans majority caucus-proper, but the anonymous version of the same. Supporters of all things voucher.
  • Mark Shurtleff --Attorney General of Utah, and advisor to the State School Board and Governors Office. The A.G. has advised the State School Board to implement HB.174.
The Timeline

2/12/2007: HB148-Voucher Bill narrowly passed by one vote, exposing it to the threat of a referendum, is signed by the Governor.
3/6/07 : HB174-Bill intended to "fix" the first voucher bill passes by a much larger margin, 2/3rds majority, and signed into law making it "referendum-proof".
4/30/07: Voucher Referendum Certified by the Lt. Governor
5/15/07: Ballot language written and mailed to the Lt. Governor. Language has HB148 in the title.


Before you ask, I can't say that Governor Huntsman is a player, although he's jumped in and out on this issue. He just hasn't demonstrated strong leadership, one way or another. He doesn't seem to like to play 'hot potato'. Neither am I trying to be predictive about if, or when we do get to vote on this, or another bill. It seems that we might have a special session to clarify, and we might just leave this for the courts to sort out.

Update: My apologies. I neglected to mention Mark Shurtleff as a player in the voucher dispute. Although this list was never intended to be comprehensive, it was to include the 'major' players. For the same reason that I leave off the Governor, I must remember to include the A.G. Shurtleff has been a stand up guy in all of this. Giving his views, and sticking by them. Some will call him 'arrogant' for this, but he is taking a legal viewpoint, which is his job. The news today reveals that he has fired two Attorneys for misrepresenting the view of the Attorney Generals Office, and giving contrary advice.