Utah County is getting ready to sign the paperwork that puts county residents in debt $65 million on a bond next week. This will max out the counties bonding power and lock us in for twenty years, unless we tell them NO at Tuesday’s public meeting.
Utah County revenue from taxes and such is $75 million a year, but is currently in $230 million bond debt and this additional $65 million bond will put us to the limit.
Another $75 million is suppose to be coming from a Federal Government grant to pay the other half of this project. Where does the federal government get the money to give grants? From YOU and ME. We will be taxed twice and forced to pay back both the entire $150 million BRT costs.
The BRT is a new public rapid transit bus system that will only service Provo and Orem. All county residents will be on the hook for the multimillion dollar bond and taxed at 80% to 90%, that will be used to subsidize the building and ongoing maintenance. You can check it out atwww.ProvoOremBRT.com
UTA is in so much debt they’ve maxed out of their bonding power and are asking county to bond for them. Due to high debt amounts, UTA’s bond rating has also been downgraded. Being high risk makes it harder to bond in the future and we will pay higher interest on those bonds. Remember, the citizens are taxed to fund both UTA and Utah County, and it’s the citizens that will suffer.
UTA’s revenue from taxes and fees is $275 million a year, but the debt is $1.8 BILLION from several bonds, that won’t start being paid off until 2028. UTA claims they will purchase the BRT system from Utah County at that time and repay all the past costs, but no one can predict what our economy will look like that far down the road. Since UTA is just another government taxing arm, the debt and subsidizing will only change from one hand to the other.
According to the recent UTA audit report, taxpayers subsidize 80% to 90% of all public mass transit in the State. Passengers are only required to pay 10% to 20% to ride. I found this 2012 UTA audit, requested by Utah Legislature that reports serious problems with every part of this government bureaucracy http://le.utah.gov/audit/14_06rpt.pdf. According to statute, Utah Code 17B-2a-815(2), all public mass transit is required to be ‘reasonable and result in enough revenue to make public transit system SELF SUPPORTING’ I read this as pay for itself through user fees and such with no tax subsidies to prop it up.
To make matters worse, this is all happening along side 241 Utah cities that have been signing individual city resolutions, encouraging the Utah League of Cities & Towns to lobby the Utah Legislature on their behalf. Cities are giving permission to find additional tax sources that will fund comprehensive transportation and can at their discretion under their local control for roads, public mass transit, bike parks, etc.
In Utah County, we have recently increased our sales tax 3 times
1st increase - .25% (1998) voter approved. Funds go to UTA
2nd increase - .30% (2006) voter approved. Funds go to UTA
3rd increase - .25% (2009) County Administrative Action.
The gas tax in Utah is based on user fee. Utah law requires that all gas tax revenue be used for roads only, no mass transit. User fees are fair because those who use the gas pay the tax. The problem with the gas tax is that the legislature hasn’t increased the gas tax since 1997, so it’s not enough and needs to be adjusted and tweaked every few years. The gas tax hasn’t been sufficient but the government had to bring in funds someway to pay for the roads so they have taken out of the state general fund, shorting other area, as well as opened tax revenue sources and most citizens have no clue. The fact these gas taxes can’t be used for mass transit is wonderful, because mass transit tax is not the proper role of government. Citizens need to contact their legislatures and city councils to move them to push to fix and fund the gas tax and defund the socialist mass transit taxes.
With educated citizens and elected officials, all will soon learn that the proper role of government is to protect, not provide. Government is only to clear the path so all private citizens and businesses can enter and provide the things that people want and need. We need to read and learn how to avoid Socialism and follow Constitutional principles in our cities, counties, state and nation and undo what has wrongly been done over the past 100 years.
Meet us at the Utah County Commission meeting to say NO way to the BRT this Tuesday, January 13th at 9 a.m. at the County Administration building in Provo, Utah. Take off work and clear your schedule or YOU will be forced to fund public mass transit.
Lisa Liddiard and Jennifer Baptista
PGVoices for responsible government following Constitutional principles. True Conservatives who stand for private property rights, limited government and a free market economy. This blog will be a combined effort to give you easy to understand researched local government information.