When Provo City residents go to the polls on November 2, they will be asked whether or not they want to pay higher taxes so the city can build a new recreation center (titled Proposition 1). Proposition 1 will appear on your ballot as follows:
“Shall Provo City, Utah be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $39,000,000 and to mature in no more than 21 years from the date or dates of issuance, for the purpose of paying all or part of the costs of constructing, acquiring, and equipping a community recreation center to be located at North Park, 450 West 500 North, Provo, Utah, and paying expenses reasonably incurred in authorization and issuance of the bonds and relocation expenses reasonably related to such project? “
The city will be hosting its final informational Prop 1 meeting for residents on Tuesday, October 26, at 7:00 p.m. at the City Center (351 W. Center).
This article was originally going to be about the pros and cons of Prop 1, but frankly there is not a single provision in Prop 1 that promotes the Republican principles of smaller government and lower taxes.
Provo estimates the new bond will add an additional $77 per year to property taxes on a home valued at $195k, and almost double that – $141 – for business properties of the same value. Those payments will go on for the next 20 years. That equates to approximately $325 per every man, woman, and child living in Provo City. That’s $1,625 per family of 5. Additionally, it is estimated the center will require about $740,000 in city subsidies annually.
The bond payments will be structured to combine with the remaining city library bond, which we are still paying on — just when the library bond is about to expire and we are about to be released from that tax burden, the city wants to keep your taxes high and begin another sparkly new project. That’s right; if the rec center bond fails you will actually soon be receiving a tax cut when the library bond expires! With a flagging economy, high unemployment, and businesses that are afraid to expand and hire due to economic uncertainty, can residents really afford an increased tax burden for a shiny new boondoggle?
All the amenities to be covered by the new rec center already exist in Provo. The proposed recreation center would replace the Eldred Center senior citizen center at North Park, the indoor swimming pool next to Provo High School and The Center community center on Freedom Boulevard (200 West). Among the amenities it will offer are a gymnasium, a senior/community center, a running track, indoor pools, racquetball courts and a weight room. It also would be the new home for the Parks and Recreation Department, which operates from the west side of the City Center. Sure, it would be great to build all new facilities, but do we need to buy the Ferrari when the Toyota is working just fine (especially when we’re paying with tax dollars)?
If the community wants a new pool or facility, it would be great to see the citizens and businesses of the community come together to raise the money. Proponents say the bond will raise the money, but by bonding for the purchase the city is not raising money, it is TAKING money in the form of taxes. It is not the proper role of government to take money from citizens in order to go into business that can be covered by the private sector.
A quick online scan shows that there are at least 7 gyms in Provo/Orem. With so many facilities already available, why should the city go into the gym business at taxpayer expense? Orem City already hosts a large pool that is suitable for swim teams. Why does Provo need to build one, too? Is it a case of “keeping up with the Oremses?” We have an outdoor track at Provo High, an indoor track and access to other fabulous facilities at BYU, we already support the Parks and Recreation programs/fields/facilities, and other programs (such as Community Education) have been getting along fabulously by hosting meetings at public school facilities. Provo is in the unique and enviable position of not needing a new facility.
Sadly, with all that said, it is predicted that Prop 1 will probably pass. It seems that Provo residents have never met a tax they didn’t like. For being arguably the most conservative city in the most conservative county in the most conservative state in the nation, it is mind-boggling that Provo proposes and passes so many bond initiatives. Provo taxpayers will continue to be pummeled with new taxes until we stand up as citizens and say, “NO MORE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” As families we are constantly reminded about the dangers of going into debt and living beyond our means. We should apply this same sound financial reasoning to our taxpayer-funded city finances. It is time for each voter to stand up and say “NO” to increased taxes and increased debt.