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Commission

Proposition 1 – Sales Tax for Transportation

Promotion Video for Proposition 1 – Sales Tax for Transportation

At the Commission meeting held on August 16th, there was a discussion in regards to a ballot initiative for a ¼ of 1% sales tax for transportation. To become better aware of the issue, please watch the informational discussion video (see below). It was determined that Proposition 1, Local Option Sales Tax, will be added to the ballot in November to be voted on by the citizens of Washington County. Please pass this along to Washington County residents so that they too will be informed come the November election.

Sincerely,
Alan Gardner
Washington County Commissioner

The Debate

For

Against

Washington County is a trusted steward of public funds. Investment in our community is prioritized so that funds are used wisely and efficiently. This fiscally conservative approach has paid significant dividends to residents. Our economy is thriving and employment is strong.

The population of Washington County is projected to double in the next few decades. The current mechanisms for meeting growing transportation needs are insufficient. We can’t let traffic keep building and air pollution worsen. We need to invest to keep people moving, keep the economy strong and strengthen our quality of life.

At the same time, we have to prudently take care of our current roads rather than let them fall into disrepair. When that happens, the cost to taxpayers of deferred maintenance is much higher: $1 invested to preserve our roads saves residents $10 – $25 in costly repair or replacement later.
In the private sector, a successful company takes care of its assets and manages its investments. The existing transportation system in Washington County represents billions of dollars of infrastructure investments that require continued investment. These investments are and will continue to pay dividends to our communities.

Prop 1 is one penny for every four dollars, on purchases that exclude food, utilities, mortgages, rent, or medical expenses. As a result, the local option targets the discretionary purchases that are often made by those who use our roads the most capturing the impact of our tourism industry on our infrastructure.

We encourage you, the voter, to make an informed decision regarding Prop 1.

Jon Bramall, Mayor of Hurricane
Chris Hart, Mayor of Ivins
Jon Pike, Mayor of St. George
Rick Rosenberg, Mayor of Santa Clara
Ken Neilson, Mayor of Washington

Local mayors have argued that Washington County should impose a 0.25% local option general sales tax dedicated to transportation. Most voters would agree that building and maintaining local roads should be a top priority. Proposition 1 raises hard questions: Have roads been neglected? Why is transportation not a higher priority in current municipal budgets?

A “No” vote on Prop. 1 will provide an opportunity for local governments to answer these question — to reconsider their purposes and to focus on allocating funds for those things that matter most, such as local transportation needs. This would be a wise use of existing tax revenues, rather than spending money on projects, services, or salaries that are unnecessary and outside the role of local government. Unnecessary funding could be eliminated and the money reallocated to transportation needs, rather than raising taxes.

Taxpayers are already shouldering a heavy burden of taxes at all levels of government. Imposing another tax increase is not a good idea in the current economic conditions, when many people are out of work or living on low incomes. Citizens would be wise to avoid any tax increases and instead encourage local governments to tighten their belts and do more with current revenues.

To keep taxes low and require our local governments to make the harder and wiser choices, voters should vote “No” on Proposition 1.

By Larry Meyers
Chairman, Dixie Republican Forum
Chairman, Southwestern Special Service District

We all want our children and grandchildren to enjoy a wonderful quality life now and in the future. With new funding through the local option sales tax for transportation, local leaders can address population growth, take better care of our roadways and sidewalks, and maintain economic prosperity in our community.

Washington County is facing a growing population, deteriorating roads and budgets that fail to keep up with mounting maintenance costs. The need for funding is visible along our streets and sidewalks as the cycle of deterioration outpaces funding. Our transportation choices are limited by gaps in bus service, incomplete bike paths and trails and roadways riddled with potholes. The result: longer commutes, wear and tear on our cars, hampered economic prosperity and a diminished quality of life.

Prop 1 will help provide a substantial piece of the local transportation puzzle. Prop 1 is a quarter cent sales tax, that’s one-penny for every four dollars spent. The tax does not apply to food, medical bills, mortgages, loan payments, utilities, or prescription drugs. Rather it targets the discretionary purchases that are often made by those who use our roads the most—tourists.

Prop 1 is not for the construction of major highways. It’s dedicated to local transportation. Prop 1 will fund things that are close to home – the transportation options you use and need the most. It will fill that incessant pothole on your local street, finish a sidewalk between your house and your children’s school, or add to bus service, trails and bike paths so you have more transportation choices.

The cost of doing nothing is far higher for the average Washington County family than the local option sales tax. Our current road disrepair costs drivers $424 in added fuel use, tire wear and extra car maintenance. In addition, for every dollar we invest now in infrastructure, we save $6 in repair and up to $25 in reconstruction work. Choosing to maintain our roads today is the financially responsible and fiscally conservative approach for families.

Ultimately, it is better to take the high road as the price of doing nothing is much greater than the cost of investing in Prop 1. It will be like making a substantial down payment on our transportation system debt and displaying actual progress for citizens in the form of better-maintained roads. Voters in 10 counties across Utah have already prioritized their transportation by passing Prop 1 in the 2015 General Election.

Whatever the action today, what remains are escalating populations and mounting maintenance costs. If not from the local option, localities will have to offset the rising transportation costs with other mechanisms.

We are not necessarily fond of our routine doctor’s visits or the expenses of household upkeeps or taxes but we understand that a modest investment now will preserve what’s important in the future, that is why we are voting YES for Proposition 1 and we ask you to do the same.

Jon Bramall, Mayor of Hurricane
Chris Hart, Mayor of Ivins
Jon Pike, Mayor of St. George
Rick Rosenberg, Mayor of Santa Clara
Ken Neilson, Mayor of Washington

The question before the voters is whether or not Washington County should impose a 0.25% local option general sales tax dedicated to transportation. Voters should vote “No” on Proposition 1 because taxes are already too high, the tax will be an additional burden on local businesses, and transportation needs should be prioritized higher in budgeting with existing revenues.

The average American citizen must pay a wide variety of taxes at all levels of government: federal, state, and local. Imposing another tax increase is not a good idea in the current economic conditions, when many people are out of work or living on low incomes. While the actual amount of the tax sounds small, the tax adds up over time. Citizens would be wise to avoid any tax increases and instead encourage local governments to tighten their belts and do more with current revenues.

The tax will also place an additional burden on Washington County businesses. It will require local businesses to increase prices and send in more tax dollars. The tax may make local businesses less competitive with surrounding counties. It may even cause buyers to spend less at some businesses.

There is no dispute that providing roads and bridges is an important function of local government. Unfortunately, it has become common for local governments to spend tax money, which might otherwise be spent on transportation, on projects or services that are unnecessary and outside the role of local government. Such unnecessary funding could be eliminated and the money reallocated to transportation needs, rather than raising taxes.

To keep taxes low and protect our local businesses, voters should vote “No” on Proposition 1.

By Larry Meyers
Chairman, Dixie Republican Forum
Chairman, Southwestern Special Service District

County Resolution

City-specific Resolution