Legislative committee considers giving cities authority to “earmark” property taxes for roads

Provo Mayor John Curtis proposed that the Legislature’s Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee enact a law allowing a city like Provo to dedicate a portion of their general property tax revenues to be spent only on roads during interim meetings today. The proposal is meant to help address cities’ desire to adequately fund their transportation needs.

Mayor Curtis was motivated to come to the Legislature because, traditionally, the city has paid for road maintenance through issuing $1.2 million in debt every ten years via a bond. The downside of that approach has been that, as a debt instrument, the bond requires the city to use some of the increased property tax revenues that the bond creates to pay interest on the bond – money which they would prefer to use on road maintenance. Additionally, the city is concerned that if they chose to permanently raise property taxes through a Truth-in-Taxation hearing – rather than “temporarily” raising property taxes every ten years by sending a road maintenance bond to a vote of the people for approval – a future city council would defeat the purpose of the property tax increase by choosing to spend those funds elsewhere. Read more

Who’s running UTA, anyway?

 

Photo credit: vxla

Terry Diehl used to be a board member of the Utah Transit Authority. But no longer. He’s being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office for allegedly misusing official information about the location of a potential commuter rail station in Draper and buying up the land rights in the surrounding area.

That’s bad enough, but get this – even though he’s no longer on its board, Terry Diehl continues to work with UTA and wants to develop more land opportunities. Now this sort of stuff only happens in the darkness of political corruption. If UTA were operating in the bright sunshine, no one in their right mind would allow this to happen. Read more

Planes, Trains or Automobiles: Does Public Transit Make Sense?

The Wasatch Front Regional Council recently published a 30-year Regional Transportation Plan for Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties that calls for a $15 billion investment in 296 miles of major public transit projects. These new projects include 12 miles of light rail (TRAX), 6 miles of commuter rail (FrontRunner), 11 miles of streetcar lines, and 267 miles of bus services. The intent of these proposed investments is to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution as the urban population along the Wasatch Front grows – worthy goals, to be sure.

But this raises a policy question: Will dropping $15 billion in taxpayer dollars on new public transit projects contribute significantly to this worthy goal? Unfortunately, the likely answer is no. Read more