To the People of Orem: Vote No To the proposed Orem City Tax “Adjustment” (a.k.a. Increase)

Please vote No to the proposed City of Orem Property Tax Increase.

With any ballot initiative, it is good to understand the history and true purpose behind the forces driving it. This is yet another good example of the need for Facts to be submitted to a candid world, and for the principles of free government to be remembered.

Two points must definitely be understood before any further discussion on this proposed tax increase. First, The proposed 1.7 million dollar Property Tax increase (or “adjustment” in lawyer-speak), was originally 3.4 million dollars. Therefore, this measure was originally a proposed 50% increase of the City’s portion of your property tax bill. And secondly, contrary to the wording on the ballot itself, this tax increase was not about everyday traditional “municipal functions,” such as police and fire, at all. It was all about continued funding of the UTOPIA project.

At this point, the UTOPIA project is not only inconsistent with the economic principles of freedom on which this nation was based, but it is a practical and a very apparent failure. It is, with the current tax burden, an unnecessary and improper government venture, let alone with more of your money to continue this problem. The project infringes on competition, and even serves a double whammy to those people who are taxed to support UTOPIA, while still subscribing to various competitive sources for their internet service.

In fact, the project itself is the biggest driver of the City debt, which not only impairs the current situation, but further burdens future generations with debt they never agreed to. In fact, the UTOPIA Project expressly violates at least three portions of our Utah Constitution. Thus, this project, at the very least, should be discouraged by the people of Orem voting down the proposed tax increase.

Every person in Orem voting this November should also know and understand the back story behind even their ability to vote on this tax increase. Truth be told, the City Council (minus one) did not intend for this decision to be we, the people’s, decision at all. It was a referendum of the people, organized and signed by good and concerned citizens all around the city, that forced the decision on the ballot this November. This referendum is what appealed the city council vote to a ballot initiative to be decided by the people. In fact, only one of the current City Council even signed and was supportive of the referendum. But now, due to the hard work of those individuals behind the referendum, the choice is yours as to whether or not you will have your tax bill raised or not. It is now up to the people, such as yourselves, whether or not you think that the City government should have more of your money to spend on your behalf.

Please be on the side of those that think government should do more with less, and should not look at tax increases as a matter of first resort when attempting to resolve budgetary issues. Please vote No on the Property Tax Increase.

[For those who are interested, below is quoted the argument against the Property Tax Increase that was included in the Voter Information Pamphlet. It was authored by a great sitting city councilman, Hans Andersen and his wonderful wife, Melodee, as well as two city council candidates worth voting for: Wayne Burr and Sharon Anderson.

“Why should you vote against increasing your property tax? Debt is spiraling out of control on all levels of government. In Orem, while our population has grown only 6% in the last 14 years, our debt has increased over 430%. The city proposed to raise its portion of our property tax by 50%, then 25%. Over 100 residents spoke against the increased property tax. The city is out of touch with residents. More than 100 involved citizens circulated petitions and collected over 5200 signatures which is why you now have the opportunity to vote for or against the tax increase.

Why do they want it? The city council (all but Hans Andersen*) favor the tax increase to pay for UTOPIA, a government internet service which was supposed to reduce everybodys internet cost. The City Council* believe the government should be involved in providing Orem residents Internet service. The City Council* have voted to increase the cities bonded indebtedness February, 2013 for UTOPIA. They* also voted to pay an additional $800,000 in UTOPIA operating costs out of the budget.

Is it needed? No. The city’s share of property taxes, sales taxes, franchise taxes and fees have all risen. (1) City sales taxes have risen over $2 million the past 2 years and are projected to rise over $1 million more for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. (2) During the past 12 months 23 city employees retired who were being paid an average of $107,000 a year. That generated an annual savings of $2,461,000. (3) The mall will not receive its annual subsidy of $975,000 this year. Those three factors have improved the cities finances over $6,000,000. That is more than enough to cover the $2.9 million bond payment. Orem does not have a revenue problem. Orem has a spending problem.

How much is it? The property tax the city is asking for is $1.7 million. Advocates* of the increase argue that it is such small amount—only about $5 a month for an average home valued at $180,000, BUT if the current increase is approved, BUSINESSES will have to pay nearly two times the rate of residential properties. This will cost some businesses thousands of dollars a year. Since business have to pass along their expenses to their customers, higher taxes for business means YOU will pay more for products and services.

But why is the increase a big deal? Any increase can be burdensome, especially for those who are unemployed, underemployed or on fixed incomes. Many families struggle just to put food on the table and gasoline in their cars. Taxation forces you to get by on even less. Just think what you could do for yourself, your family and for others if you paid fewer taxes instead of more.

Let’s do our part for Orem by saying ‘NO’ to the property tax increase and ‘YES ’to fiscal restraint and responsibility! After all, it’s YOUR FAMILY, YOUR FUTURE, and YOUR CHOICE.”

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