Monday, November 1, 2010

My Neighbors Would Probably Hate Me If They Knew

photo from

Tomorrow is voting day. I'm not generally too political, but I do have a strong opinion on my city's proposition this time around.

Signs started showing up around my neighborhood in support of our city's Proposition 1 almost a month ago. Like, seriously, all over my neighborhood. I had never heard of Proposition 1 so I looked it up in order to make an informed vote. The gist of it is this: my city would like to build a new, updated recreation center to replace 3 existing facilities; the much older existing recreation center, senior center and the old armory where community classes and events occur.

And here's my deal. I am not against a new recreation center. But I will NOT be voting for it, and here are my reasons why:

1) I am against raising property taxes. We already had our property taxes raised not too many years back in order to build a newer public library. Here is the information sent to me by the city regarding the increase in property taxes I can expect if this Proposition is passed:

The owner of an average $195,000 home would pay $2.61 more per month, or $31.32 more per year, in property tax. Together with the portion of property taxes that is currently paying for the library bond, that would come to $6.37 per month or $76.45 per year. (In three years, after the library bond is paid off, the full $76.45 would go towards paying for the recreation center for the remaining 17 years of the bond.)

So, if I understand this correctly, they are going to continue charging us (via property taxes) the same money I am paying for the library bond after it is paid off in 3 years but use that money instead for the new recreation center in addition to the extra $30 or so per year that the vote would approve.

What are they going to build after the recreation center? All I see is a continued increase in my property taxes with no end in sight. I'm not cool with that. Once the library bond is paid off, that should be the end of that tax. It's not right to tack that existing expense on to a new project.

2) I am irritated that the location of the new recreation center (the baseball fields for my kids' high school) is already being cleared out for building. The new ball fields are already being set up just down the street from my house as if the vote has already been won and the bond approved. Sort of makes me feel like my vote isn't going to matter since they've already got things in the works. That doesn't seem right to me.

3) I think that if property owners are the ones who will be paying for this new recreation center, we should be the only ones who get to vote for or against it. I don't understand how it is fair for those who will not be taxed (non-property owners) to be allowed to vote in favor of this. Basically anyone who is registered to vote can approve an increase in my taxes while they get to enjoy the new recreation center without having to pay for the bond. In addition, I would be even happier with this if only those who approve of the bond are charged for it. If they don't get enough votes to collect the money that is needed, then too bad.

4) My family would not use the new facility. The only thing my family does through the city's recreation center is take swimming lessons at the city's outdoor pool and it is more than adequate.

I would love to hear your opinions on this, especially if you live in my city.

Don't forget to vote tomorrow!


Michael K. Mayer said...

Regarding property ownership and voting. That is the way it used to be. There is something be said about that. It would be interesting to hear why that was the case. Probably the same logic you are using today.

Farscaper said...

I hadn't heard all those stats. THANK YOU for putting it all together. I was under the impression that it was about $6 a YEAR not per month. What you said changes things quite a bit.

It angers me that when I vote yes for a temp increase they don't remove the increase once the project is finished. I was unaware of what they were doing with the library tax $. GRRRR

I have personally never used the local rec center. I have used the local soccer fields that are being ripped up and will get fencing that prevents us from using the fields EVER again. I'm very irritated at that decision.

I have a friend who lives in the grandview area. They have a BIG EMPTY field where the school use to be... it's ugly but it just sits there. The baseball fields were supposed to be put there but some local "upity-ups" stormed over to the homes of the "powers that be" (also in the area) and strong armed them into putting the baseball fields elsewhere. Isn't that wonderful?! Keep an empty area empty and rip up a VERY heavily used soccer field and force them to find a field elsewhere. We already have 4 freaking baseball fields in that exact area. Why on earth they decided to put in 1 more I will never know.

To me... baseball fields = Fences = do not enter = do not use. We liked to take our kites over there because there are no wires or trees to get tangled in.

I'll get off my soap box now. I'm with ya on this one. Your post just changed 2 votes... I have great influence on my hubby. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm totally with you on the notion that owners should get to decide. But that isn't the case. In Barrington, where I still unfortunately own a home, it is assumed that the vast majority of voters are home owners and I would agree that for this part of the world that holds true. Doe you have a high number of renters in Provo?

Dia Smith said...

Grrrr. I am not anonymous.

Michelle said...

Amen. I would vote no with you, if I still lived in Provo. For the record, when they called to survey me asking if I would use a new rec center, thought it was a good idea, etc. etc. I told them No on all accounts.

Wanted to let you know the Cemetary Hotel was AWESOME! You really ought to charge a dollar per head at least. I would be happy to pay. I couldn't believe the line up to get in on Friday night.

NiHao said...

While I no longer live in Provo, I can sympathize with you. It really bugs me too that they roll over taxes from from project to another just to avoid the appearance of raising taxes above what you are used to paying.

That being said, I'm really not sure how I would vote. This project is more than just a rec also meets the needs(?) of replacing a center for our senior citizens.

Where I live, our property values went down, but our taxes increased due to new rates. Looks like local governments are going to get your money regardless of the economy.

Hez said...

You make excellent points. I realized early in my voting history that I was voting on measures paid for by others. Since I'm still not a property owner, I stopped voting on measures that involve property taxes. I've hoped I'm not alone in that realization.

Gerb said...

Mike- In my opinion, that is the way it SHOULD be. I wonder whose bright idea it was to change it.

Farscaper- I'm not thrilled about another ballpark in our neighborhood, either. Especially because our street becomes more like a raceway as people speed down the road to their games with no respect for the speed limits or the small children who live and play in the area. Thanks for your comments - I'm glad I decided to post this.

Dia- Because we live in a college town we do have a very high number of renters. It's frustrating when it comes to votes like this.

Michelle- I gave the same responses when I was polled. NO to it all.

I'm glad you were able to make it on Friday! We saw Brett and a couple of the kids. Did you stay in the car with the little ones? Many people tell us we should charge admission but we never will. Actually, I think we've decided that this is our last year for a good, long time. Like until our youngest 3 are teenagers - and even then it's a big maybe.

NiHao- I agree. As for the senior center, I am not sure what percentage of the elderly population actually have needs met there on a regular basis. That is not to say it is not a needed facility, just that I am uninformed as to what it is used for.

Hez- I for one appreciate your insight. I think most people don't put that much thought into how their vote affects others.

Anonymous said...

I haven't decided how I feel about the new rec center, been stewing about it for a while...guess I had better make a decision soon. :)

One thing to keep in mind regarding property taxes and those that don't own property...someone owns the property they rent, and that person in turn does pay the property taxes...and logically the rent is set accordingly. So no, they don't actually pay property tax to the county, but the cost does eventually trickle down.


Rachel said...

Well, I would give my opinion but you pretty well summed up my opinion right there! So, my opinion is AMEN SISTA! My thoughts exactly!

Kind of like putting a toll on a bridge until the cost of the bridge is finished only.... the toll is never lifted.....

Richard & Natalie said...

I already voted....

But it is nice to know I'm in good company. :)

Great post, Gerb. Thanks for summing up some of my own concerns and some I hadn't thought about. I feel all the better about the choice I made.

Maleen said...

That post has opened my eyes a lot. Mostly that I need to be doing my own research and not having my neighbors do it for me, although it is heavily appreciated.

At least I won't be totally clueless at the poles tomorrow.

Thanks again for tickets to the Spook Alley. It was amazing. I would have made a donation. You should just put a jar up, or something. You put so much work into it....awesome.

NoSurfGirl said...

I've got to get more into local politics. But this line:

"I don't understand how it is fair for those who will not be taxed (non-property owners) to be allowed to vote in favor of this"

confused me a little because I'm not sure I get the tax hike... is it a one time thing or is this a permanent tax hike? If it's a one time thing I definitely agree.

*as to a new rec center* I think Provo is kinda shameless, to be talking about upping property taxes and building newer facilities in the midst of a recession. I know we're kind of in a bubble, recession-wise... but, well, let's BE wise. :)

Dalene said...

I'm a supporter and I don't hate you because you're not. I like being able to agree to disagree on issues we, well, don't agree on.

Even if I weren't using the rec center regularly (something I never did until this past year), I would support it. There are some things I believe just make the community a better place (not to mention more attractive to businesses who are looking at locating here). I don't mind paying a small bit ($3/month--no big deal even on my budget) to make something like that happen. I wasn't huge on the library happening--I rarely use it--but now it's done I think it's great.

The truth is, Provo needs new facilities. The current ones are in really bad shape (I know this, because I've been in them). It will be less expensive to build it now and, down the road, and so much less expensive to run and maintain the new ones than it is to run and maintain the current ones. Doing it now will save taxpayers money in the long run. As a taxpayer, I'm good with that.

Anonymous said...

The question can be looked at this way. We as families are trying to cut back on extra unneeded things with the economy the way it is. So is this new rec. center absolutely needed right now? I say "No". It can wait until we have more money saved for it, until the need is greater, and it's more affordable.

Sarah said...

Wow, Gerb. I agree with you. Sorry my thought isn't very original. I also agree with the anon. post before mine - do you really NEED a rec center right now? Sounds like a "no"-brainer to me!

Richard & Natalie said...

This isn't probably very useful since the voters in Provo gave the rec. center a big thumbs up on Tuesday, but maybe it will help me if I vent a little.

I can understand WANTING updated and more efficient facilities, but the thing that really bothered me about the whole project is the extravagance of it all. Right now when families are tightening their belts even further and looking for ways to cut costs even more do we really NEED waterslides, party rooms, and drop in babysitting for exercise classes? Not to mention 3 different kind of pools. That kind of extravagance, to me, belongs to private enterprise, not to imposing it on the tax paying public for the next 20 years.

And let's face it, in 20 years when it is finally all paid for it'll probably need updating again then too.

I was very disappointed Wednesday morning- to say the least.

Thanks for the vent! :)

Shellie said...

I felt the same way. Construction costs might be way down but they aren't going up anytime soon and if we are all having to live more austerely, why raise our taxes to have something newer and nicer? Kind of "big spending", eh? Supposedly not what everyone is asking for right now.

Lori said...

You go, Gerb! Way to inform. What an excellent point about those who pay the taxes vs those who wouldn't have a property owner, I've never really thought about that, but SO TRUE.

Let us non-Provo peeps know how it turned out.

Gerb said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone - whether you agreed with me or not. I love hearing all perspectives and appreciated everyone's taking the time to say what they thought.

I planned to respond to each of your comments personally and then life happened...

For those of you who are not local but interested in knowing, the Rec Center bond passed with roughly a 60/40 vote.