Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Action Proposal To Huntsville Council

Friends and neighbors,

I read this into the record tonight at the Huntsville Town Council meeting. For whatever good it will do....

K-Bell says it is too long and she is always right, but I figure someone needs to say a lot.


This was to the Huntsville Town Council. I am not forgetting all our East Huntsville, Eden or Liberty Valley people equally upset. We just have to get organized someplace and try to keep the momentum going toward serious home owner tax protection legislation.

4 September 2007:

What I have to say I have written so that it will become a part of the record and available for Councilman Truett and Councilman Gault to read, as well as any other citizen of Huntsville Town.

We (most of us) were shocked on the first of August. No, mostly the entire State was shocked. We were dumb-founded at the assessed market values. We all said "How could that be! How could Bill Anderson's place - gutted and belly deep in weeds be listed at $450,000 and even now shown on MLS at $350,000? To quote the immortal bard, "Something stinks in Denmark."

I did my thing on-line for days and nights and determined that our collective dumb-founding was not only justified but that Huntsville Town is undoubtedly the highest taxed Town or City in the State of Utah, if not the entire Country.

Also discovered were tax evaders and cheats who are taking from their neighbors but the law will handle those people in due time.

I discovered that Huntsville Town (tax units 35 mainly and 110 partial) have in fact had our tax rates reduced by 3% in 2006 and 13% in 2007. And sure enough our Town had our tax rate, which determines how much returns to our General Fund, decreased by 43%. Just as the Commissioner and Asst. County assessor said. And as an item of interest property owners outside Huntsville on South Fork and South Lane, property owners in Eden and the Elkhorn and Moose Hollow subdivisions all had a LOWER tax rates than us in Huntsville Town, both in 2006 and 2007. Does that make any sense to anyone?

Looking more closely, the Town residence tax rate decrease (3%) was accompanied by an increase in the order of some 30% (estimated). And our residences 2007 tax rate was also decreased by 13%, yet our aggregate residential property taxes increased by almost 91% due to much higher valuations. This disparity promises to be even more next year when the Jeff Holt mansion is assessed, the Boyd Farr subdivisions are added, and Short's half million dollar lot and the large house being constructed on it comes into play for taxation. We "ain't seen nothing yet" folks.

Let me try to explain what is happening so it is crystal clear. The three Commissioners have written off Ogden Valley as not mattering at the polls. Too many non-primary or part time non-voting residents and too few like us gathered here who will care. They will say to Charles Trentleman (who only paid literally $1.39 in property taxes) and the others on that side of the mountains, "See we taxed all those rich people in the Valley. We are taking care of you, so vote for us again." They are effectively using our grossly inflated property tax money to buy votes in a more dense area of voters.

What do we do about it you say? We have already written a petition; "We appeal to your sense of common decency and fairness with our petition." Asking for a fair and equitable re-assessment of our properties. They tuned us down flat.

We then had our Representative Froerer meet with them and the School District twice proposing a tax rebate scheme copied from Davis County. They turned us down flat.

Now let me say a word or two about "Shirley". Shirley is a real person and she is typical of all those we all love and care very much for. She happens to be fairly recently widowed, living alone, probably in her eighties. And she had her humble life long home assessed at $109,666 in 2006 (as a primary residence $75,632) but this year..this year her little early 1920's home sitting on only .38 acres was assessed at $238,851 (taxibly assessed @$164,725) for an increase of 117.7% in market value and a whopping 91.9% in taxes. "Shirley" just happens to fit in the mean, median, and mode of all parcels within Huntsville Town. "Shirley" is therefore my metaphor for the average property owner in Huntsville.

Let's see what has happened to "Shirley" where this has happened before. In Ketchum, Idaho, or Jackson, Wyoming or closer to home Park City, Utah "Shirley" had to sell in order to survive. Folks the oppressive taxation heaped upon our Town will change the demographics of where we live.

A community is made up of "Shirley's" and not non primary residents who will continue to displace "Shirley" if we do not act. And act now to stop it. If we truly love our people and our community we will stand up and be counted and not wither away like "Stepford" wives or citizens.

Here is what I think we should do. We should all pay the one dollar or less for Richard's signs saying "For Sale -Can't afford the taxes." The idea is not original. It came from Bishop Layton relating what residents did in Indiana to get attention. It worked for them. Before anyone gets hysterical, this is clearly an offer made as a protest and in jest and therefore not legally binding on anyone.

Secondly, we need to have a nice sign or banner made on which it says "Huntsville Town for Sale $2,967,345,098.78 (Weber County Assessor's Market Value)."

Third, we should organize a media day and invite TV Channels 2, 4, 5, 13 and whatever else is out there, as well as the editors/reporters for all the newspapers, Desert Morning News, Salt Lake Tribune, Standard Examiner, Valley Times, etc. We should treat them to home cooking on the park, and if they wish adult beverages I am fairly certain John Posnein would cooperate at the Star. All in-town bills paid by our Town.

At the media day we should have guided tours in groups of say five or so, along set routes with selected hosts pointing out the irregularities and grossly inflated property values as well as the errors made by the assessors. An enlarged picture of Bill Anderson's place should be a handout as an example. The guide should ask how much our guests think it is worth when they drive by. Perhaps Steve Johnson could use his horses and wagon for this or Shorty's motorized horses and wagon?

And at a special stop along the way we should have "Shirley", or someone who fits my metaphor, with the 1000 signatures on the petitions in her trembling hands and suggest that she be interviewed. She should tell it like it is.offering them lemonaide and cookies.

And finally, and most importantly I want you all ..including Councilman Truett and Councilman Gault to very seriously consider this. Since we are and in fact have been being doubly taxed by having to pay both for the Town services and the County for police protection, animal control, road surfacing and maintenance, snow removal, park upgrades and maintenance, etc. etc. Since the Weber County Commissioners have refused us flatly and further stiffed us by even reducing how much of our own tax money gets returned to us (by 43%). Since those who live outside Huntsville Town limits receive Weber County services which we already pay for in Town as well as through our Weber County Property taxes. We should begin making serious and very public overtures toward un-incorporating as a chartered and corporate Town entity.

This would tell the commissioners in no certain terms that we are willing to sacrifice our local government. We are willing to place the infrastructure and maintenance burdens of our small municipality squarely upon the County. It will send a message that we care about our community. We care more about our own people who comprise our community than we do about finely paved streets or immediately plowed snow. It will say no more too;

$120,000 in administration expenses,
No more $33,000 Payroll expenses, no more
$40,000 a year to the Weber County Sheriff's Office, no more $4,000 a year to the Weber County Animal Control Department.
No more $16,500 a year in Court wages, no more paying $107,000 for Street and hiway, wages, overlays and sealing. No more park wages of $14,000 or building inspector wage $6,300, or insurance costs of $21,000, or legal-accounting services of $16,000. No more paying from both ends. Paying from within our own budget and the near constant attempts to collect fees and host County wide events like Xterra, Balloon Fests, 4th of July Celebrations, etc. No more, since we are being charged property taxes at an even higher tax rate as those living outside Huntsville Town. And they too are almost all being gouged in our Valley.

If it comes to actually un-incorporating.so be it. It will be a resounding message which says we will not be forced to pay for your votes on the under taxed side Western of the mountain. We will not allow "Shirley" to leave us prematurely due to Draconian tax policy. We will stand unified against an exedous and destruction of our beloved community and Valley.

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