This will be the first in a series of posts to tell you who or what I'm voting for and why. Today, I start with the ballot questions.
Constitutional Amendment Number 1: "Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to authorize the Legislature to pass a law creating a property tax exemption for tangible personal property that generates an inconsequential amount of revenue?"
This question has a lot of gotchas. On the surface, I would be inclined to vote for measures that decrease taxes. Upon further examination, however, this ends up being little more than a blank check for the Legislature to give out special tax breaks. I'm especially bothered that the term "inconsequential" is not defined as a particular amount but left rather open-ended. I say NO to creating special and vague tax breaks.
County Proposition 1: Allows Salt Lake County to issue bonds up to $65M to mature in 10 years or less for recreational facilities including zoos, arts, and parks.
Salt Lake County already tops the list in per capita spending on parks. Within a five-minute walk of my home in White City, I can be in Dimple Dell, go to the Dimple Dell Recreation Center, or visit Lone Peak Park. I think we're already set on park spaces here, thanks. I say NO to spending even more on something we already have a lot of.
County Proposition 2: Allows Salt Lake County to issue bonds up to $48M to mature in 21 years to preserve open spaces.
Open spaces not only increase property values for their natural beauty, but they act as a counter-balance to unfettered development that can cause heavier traffic and change the character of a neighborhood. I think that open space preservation is a good component of planned growth, and we should try not to pave over every available inch of space. I enjoy walks through Dimple Dell with our dog, Chloe, to take in the bubbling stream and tall trees. I say YES to keeping some areas free of development and leaving us with nature's beauty close to home.
County Proposition 3: Raises the sales tax by 0.25% in Salt Lake County in order to pay for transportation improvements such as corridor preservation, expanded TRAX service, finishing commuter rail service to Utah County, and new road and freeway construction.
The Legislature has demonstrated again and again its inability to show some leadership on transportation policy, quibbling over the smallest of issues while neglecting to put the state's huge surpluses to work taking care of one-time transit projects. They couldn't even be bothered to tell us what exactly the tax increase from this question will pay for. Studies have been going on for years to identify what needs to be done, so the only question now is how much of the increase will be going into various projects. I say YES to getting these projects done sooner rather than later, saving us billions in long-term construction costs by leveraging today's lower prices for materials, labor, and land.