Did American Fork Road Cut Its Road Budget by $450,000 This Year?

There is widespread agreement that American Fork’s roads are crumbling, and that rebuilding them should be a high priority in the City budget. Beyond this the rhetoric diverges.

Facts

For most of the campaign, one candidate and the local PAC which supports him – and whose flier he’s been distributing – have been telling people that, in the face of this great need, and despite having $10 million in cash for which they have no specific plans, city leaders cut the road budget by $450,000 from Fiscal Year 2015 to Fiscal Year 2016.

That supposed $10 million surplus is a tale we’ll consider soon. Today, we’re looking at the road budget. Here’s what official documents from the City say.

FY 2015: $3,051,000

FY 2016: $6,296,200

In other words, there is no $450,000 decrease. There is no decrease at all. There is more than a $3.2 million increase. The road budget more than doubled.

Even without a $2.55 million grant to fund the 900 West project, the road budget would have increased by $697,200 – that is, about 23 percent.

In fairness to candidate Allen Simpson, I note that after he spoke of this imaginary cut at a meet-the-candidates event ten days ago, one of the incumbents took him aside and gave him (and also explained) the real data. He didn’t make the same mistake a few days later, at last Saturday’s event.

On the other hand, the PAC whose flier he’s distributing doesn’t back down from its numbers, even when they’re provably false. They’re just using the City’s numbers, they say. If they’re wrong, it’s the City’s fault.

I’m using the City’s numbers too. Here are links to two documents the City provided me last week. This summary is clear and sufficient for today’s point. This spreadsheet has more detail.

Perspective

Two years ago, the same PAC told voters that the City had no plan for the proposed bond funds, when there was a very detailed, carefully prioritized, very public plan.

They supported a candidate who said that it would be better to drive on gravel streets than to borrow one dime to rebuild roads.

They supported another candidate who threw all sorts of crazy numbers and accusations around, and who would not be moved even when City financial experts took great pains to explain things to him. He also claimed to have studied the City budget and found $3 million in obvious cuts that could be made right away, but then he couldn’t identify them – during or in the months after his successful campaign.

Both of these candidates won in 2013. One of them grew into the job quite respectably. The other, well . . . Word on the street is that even AFCitizens is embarrassed by him now. It puts one in mind of adage which seems appropriate to Halloween: People with knowledge know that Dr. Frankstein was not the monster; he was the man who created the monster. People with wisdom understand that Dr. Frankenstein was the monster.

Allen Simpson is not a monster. He comes to the campaign with a much better resume of volunteer service to the city than one of these candidates I mentioned, and with a willingness to learn that the other 2013 AFCitizens darling has not shown. But Mr. Simpson still the PAC’s favorite, and he’s still passing out their stuff.

Meanwhile, the voters are learning too. In 2013, awash in a small flood of bad data, they defeated the road bond proposal. Two years later, a lot of them are saying they wish they’d voted for it.

This story has several morals. Here are two.

If AFCitizens bets the political farm on a number, it’s probably wrong. (But there’s nothing you or I can do to persuade them of that, because they know that they are nice, honest people who are not wrong.)

And learn before you vote.

If you want to help counteract the misinformation some folks are spreading to sway voters, please tell your friends and neighbors, and post this infographic on social media.

American Fork road budget

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