Monday, October 29, 2007

Machman says NO on Opinion Question 1! No more! Never more...and why.)

Standard Examiner OPED
Sunday, October 28, 2007

Nobody likes the idea of raising taxes -- least of all those who are being taxed.
But, as we see things, it wouldn't make any more sense to reject a proposed tax increase without assessing the reasons for opposition than it would to approve without a justification for doing so.


OK let us examine the reasons to reject the latest proposed tax increase:

1. The latest property tax increase averaging 11.6% for the entire State is simply beyond understanding or justification. Weber County is the highest taxed in the State already.

2. Legislators and Assessors and Commissioners are still in their defensive crouch defending the status quo.

3. They see no need to change “the system” supported by the editorial staffs of major news papers which proclaim, “The System is Not Broken”. Fortunately for us, the Standard Examiner is not one of those papers. They generally tell it like it is and we appreciate that very much.

4. But on this issue the Standard Examiner editorial staff is just wrong (however well meaning).

5. The following has already been done to us:
2007 General Session SB 223, the State sales and use tax rate was set at 4.65%.
The basic transit rate was increased to .3 %.

The municipal highway tax rate was also increased to .3%.

We already pay a “County Option” tax of .25% passed in about ''00 for corridor preservation and/or commuter rail/transit. And a second mass transit tax along with...

A RAMP tax of .1% (interestingly called Botanical, Cultural, Zoo Tax (County).

And effective 1 January 2008 the combined state and local sales and use tax on food and food ingredients will be 3% (1.75% State, 1% local Option, and .25% County Option.
(Source Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Oct. 15 2007)

6. What we already are paying for transit/transportation in addition to the above:

Motor Fuel Tax $255 Million.
Special Fuel Tax $111.2 Million.
Motor Vehicle Registration Fees (Taxes) $34.3 Million
Special “earmarked” funds are not included in the above.(Lord only knows..)

(based upon Oct. forecasts from state economists, the actual FY 2008 ending in June of this year will exceed the February 2007 forecast by $136 to $179 Million dollars.)

**Sales tax restricted revenue for Transportation Projects and Public Transit Systems Tax Highway were up 41.5% and 164.7%, respectively.
(Source Utah State Tax Commission Revenue Summary, Economic And Statistical Unit, Oct 15, 2007)

7. The Feds already chipped in another $500 million for transit lines.

8. We have already paid for Front runner commuter rail in Weber County.

9. State B&C road funds are already made available from the State to the County for these East West feeder roads.

10. Yet another .25% increase in sales tax would also be the third separate transportation sales tax in Weber County and it follows on the heels of an increase in vehicle registration fees dedicated to transportation.

11. Since July we are already paying yet an extra $10 per each vehicle for corridor preservation and transportation.

We seem to have both the UTA and UDOT working as a one two punch to get more and more out of us already over taxed citizens. Is this some sort of race between UTA, UEA and UDOT to see who can exhort the most funds from us taxpayers?

UNCLE! I give…..and give and give and give.

But what am I getting here in Huntsville? We already pay for our own roads, potholes, chip, crack and seal. Besides, I like my potholes. They are the only thing that stands between me and the folks with their big boats who get in too big a hurry as they begin to see Pineview and water.

The Standard Examiner OPED piece continues with Mach man's comments in bold italics...if you have the time to read it. It is too long and I know it. Sorry bout that.

That's where the voters of Davis, Weber and southern Box Elder counties find themselves: On the Nov. 6 ballot, they will be asked to vote yes or no on Opinion Question No. 1. It asks whether or not their counties/communities should be allowed to impose an additional quarter-cent "sales and use tax for corridor preservation, congestion mitigation, or to expand capacity for regionally significant transportation facilities."

We realize that homeowners and business owners -- this newspaper included -- are suffering from what we've termed "tax fatigue." Property taxes have been climbing due to increased valuations, various taxing entities bumping up their tax rates, etc. It would therefore be tempting to vote against Opinion Question No. 1 just because you're fed up.

We sympathize, but feel that Opinion Question No. 1 is one of those measures that, though distasteful right now, will produce significant benefits far into the future for transportation and public transit throughout the Top of Utah.

In Brigham City, Willard and Perry, the extra money will be used to hurry along commuter rail from Brigham to Pleasant View. In south Davis County, Bountiful would like to see a TRAX line or streetcars.

But not all the money will be used for public transit. A quarter of the money, by law, will be designated for corridor preservation. We already have and are paying for corridor preservation. That is what the .25% tax or $8 Million a year forever is already paying for. And now an additional $10 a year forever vehicle registration fee ($1.5 Million). That's vital, since we all can see how fast the ground is being developed around us -- and some of that property will be needed for roads and transit lines in the decades to come. Agree but for heaven’s sake yet another .25% (total $18+ million a year forever?!) Machman understands a marriage that is forever but a tax? What is the end date of the 2000 County Option transit tax? What is the ending date for the one you are suggesting we vote for now? Answer; There simply is not one. Why would ANYONE in their right mind vote for such a tax? Why would any of us agree to give away our hard earned income to bureaucrats who have abused us so and continue to be held unaccountable? Just makes no sense at all to me.

Obviously, all that costs money. If Opinion Question No. 1 passes, it'll mean an extra $8.66 per month for the average family, or $104 per year. Folks this is the definition of “Incrementalism”, and a perfect example of how it has already sold us down the river too many times. Reject this reasoning for the sake of your children and grandchildren. Make public officials accountable and hold them to account for sane budgets. PLEASE!
But consider this, too: For our economy to continue to chug along at a healthy pace, the Top of Utah needs to attract and retain good businesses that will provide jobs, goods and services for our residents. If you ask the Brigham Area, Davis and Ogden-Weber chambers of commerce to list the top three criteria for companies looking to relocate, they'll tell you: 1) available work force, 2) transportation infrastructure and 3) quality of education. If we don't do all we can do to improve our transportation and transit, we're hurting our prospects for long-term economic success.
Sure they will say that. So what is new? My point is we have already sacrificed through excessive taxation and yet they continue with an unrelenting array of give us more. There will always be this hue and cry for more. And we must just say no. Time out. Foul. You Chamber of Commerce businesspeople, UDOT and UTA bureaucrats give us specifics not generalities and vague notions. You give us clear and indisputable facts, not projections of growth traditionally embellished and exaggerated. You Chambers of Commerce old farts who are business people, who want as much as they can get to reduce their own overheads and increase profits, stop sending out “feather merchants” to lobby and in the process steal more tax money. What is it going to take? Robin Hood to stop the Sheriff of Nottingham?

Finally, we approve of the way the projects funded by this tax increase will be prioritized. Box Elder's already targeted its priority: rail. But in Davis and Weber, where commuter rail will open for business next year, local governments and the Wasatch Front Regional Council will huddle to fund the projects that are most critical. How about huddling around the money we have and are already paying for these “projects” and keep your greedy hands out of our bank accounts.
We don't like the idea of a tax increase, either, but we urge a yes vote on Opinion Question No. 1. I understand why you would have to say that but….No thanks boss. Respectfully, “That dawg don’t hunt.” Minor Machman

No comments: