There are a few key issues that Spanish Fork will be dealing with over the next 4-10 years that are of key importance:
1. Growth - Spanish Fork is projected to double in size over the next 10 years. This type of growth is inevitable but does not have to drastically change our way of life.
2. Infrastructure – Spanish Fork is very well positioned with the infrastructure that has been planned and built by our predecessors. I believe these decisions were made to make our city a sustainable and affordable place for those that choose to live here and be a part of our community. These goals should continue to be fought for as we plan and implement new projects in the future.
3. Public Safety - Police, Fire and Ambulance will all continue to see pressure as our population grows. The city has recently built a second station in town and has started to staff if for some services. This will become more critical as the city continues to grow. This should be able to be done with new revenue from new move-ins if the city is prudent in the way it allocates current tax dollars. Our ambulance crews have had added pressure recently with the opening of the Spanish Fork hospital. There is an opportunity for the city to make money with these services if we change the way we staff and grow our ambulance department.
4. Recreation – The city has agreed to terminate our 80-year lease on the current city pool at the request of Nebo school district as part of the rebuild of the Spanish Fork High School. We as a community will have to have a new discussion about how involved the city should be in building this type of facility. The city has already started the process of surveying citizens about what type of pool they would like. Ie. Do you want it? Do you want indoor or outdoor? Do you want it built in a way that allows for a recreation center to be built next to it in the future? I would like to see these types of surveys include the question "how much are you willing to pay for it?"
Spanish Fork voters were asked these questions in a bond ballot measure in 2015 and overwhelmingly rejected the project plan that was offered at that time. One of the arguments against that project was the known need for more funding for fire and police resources that were put on hold due to the proposed bond. Since that time more fire and police have been added and the city property tax has been raised annually to facilitate the added costs (It is notable that there was no increase this year). Construction on a new library/City Office has also been started by the city without bringing a vote back to the citizens. This project was facilitated by a Lease Revenue Municipal Building Authority Bond. The debt service for the library portion of the building will be paid from a property tax increase while the debt service for the city office portion will be paid from various other funds (The city and the current council found a way to do it without asking for citizen input again). If you attended the mandatory truth in taxation hearings over the past few years and were frustrated that your concerns were ignored, please understand that this is why. The money was already earmarked and needed for these new projects. Once the truth in taxation hearings are scheduled, they are basically a legal formality. Those voting on the tax increase have done the math to see if it is going to cost anyone their job or their seat.
I am an advocate for small businesses in our community and feel strongly that any service being reasonably offered by the private sector should not incur any competition from the city. The city should do all that it can to foster growth and fair competition in our marketplace.
I was an outspoken critic of the proposed “Life Center” in Spanish Fork for many reasons and my involvement in that community discussion is well documented through social media posts and videos posted to YouTube by SFCN17 and fellow citizens during that time. I believe that most of the discussion that happened around that topic was civil and constructive. I spent a lot of time trying to dispel rumors, clarify discussion points and just get my fellow citizens' questions answered so they could cast an informed vote.
Since that time, I have been invited by city personnel to be involved in multiple citizen discussions regarding tax initiatives, tax increases, project proposals and community planning and have served on the SFHS community council.
I have never met a new tax that I liked. My first reaction is always "explain to me why."
I find property tax to be one of the most offensive government incursions of our personal lives and the American dream.
I am also a realist and understand that choosing to live in a community comes with added rules and a needed way to fund community efforts. I have been inspired over the past 10 years by generous citizens that have donated large sums of money, time and resources for joint projects in order to improve the lives of all of us. I will continue to encourage anyone advocating for higher taxes to donate generously.
Any new project, undertaking, or community program that require the council to consider more taxation will be met with respectful opposition in the form of a few questions.
1. Why is this new expense being considered?
2. Is this something the citizens want?
3. Is this something the community needs?
4. Are you willing to talk about the tax increase openly and in plain language so that citizens understand clearly what it is going to cost them?
5. Why don’t current taxes already account for it?
6. What else can be done to avoid raising taxes while meeting the needs of the community?
Simple principles of economics say that as we add more homes to our community, some services are going to get more expensive to maintain while other services should become relatively less expensive. Each new housing project pays impact fees that are to be used directly to offset the impact of the new home on the current services. The new improvements bring with them new tax revenue that should be used for their intended purposes.
It is important that we continue to evaluate what is currently being done by the city to make sure that we are doing things that make sense and are beneficial to our community. Nothing should be untouchable as we account to the citizens the work and initiatives that are currently being pursued.
I pledge to be an advocate for the citizens of Spanish Fork on these issues and any other issues that arise during my term using the same principles that I currently employ before getting involved in any community discussion.
1. Does the community understand the proposal?
2. Does the community need this?
3. Do the citizens want this?
4. Is there a reasonable private sector competitor?
5. Are we being good stewards if/when we do this?