Mayoral candidates Brad Frost and Carlton Bowen are on the November general election ballot in American Fork. Here they answer questions about taxes, fees, water rates, and roads. (Previously, they answered questions about experience and qualifications, goals, and why they’re running.)
Note: This page will be updated as further responses are received. The questions in the post were sent to all three candidates by e-mail on Tuesday, July 18. Candidate responses are ordered alphabetically by surname. Responses may be slightly edited for grammar, punctuation, and format. Responses by candidate Daniel Copper, who was defeated in the primary, are still available below, behind the buttons.
- Published: 25 July 2017
- Updated: 28 September 2017
Taxes, Utility Rates, and Fees
If elected, how will you decide what the proper level is for each of these?
- The City’s portion of our property taxes.
- Culinary and pressurized irrigation water rates.
- Impact fees.
(no response yet)
The property tax rate for this fiscal year’s budget is .002082. This is a decrease from last year. We can attribute this to new growth and good management of this tax, accompanied by a strong sales tax base and new business. On a home valued at $250k, this works out to be $287 per year in property tax. The last property tax increase was in 2009. It would be my hope we can do more with less and still provide necessary services. I will work towards this goal.
The general fund was heavily subsidizing water rates for nearly a decade. It was a trend that was unsustainable. In order to reverse this trend, three small scaled water rate increases were implemented. These came over the course of three years. All indications are that this has brought revenues up to match expenditures.
Impact fees for new construction are a fair way of buying into the existing Infrastructure. They have been carefully analyzed through a third party to be sure they are fair and balanced with current and future needs throughout the city. This year we hired a consultant from Zions Bank to look at the changing needs of the city. I support the process of making necessary adjustments periodically. We need to make sure that all stakeholders have input through a very transparent process. That we did! Some fees were lowered, while others saw an increase. As the city’s needs change, the associated impact to the city will change along with them. The purpose and proper use of impact fees needs to be better understood by many..
Roads and the 2013 Road Bond Issue Proposal
In the 1990s, to balance the budget, the City drastically reduced road maintenance budgets, in effect borrowing millions of dollars per year from our infrastructure, without calling it borrowing. This shortfall became the norm until it was corrected about a decade later; by then we were already tens of millions of dollars behind – and it costs more to rebuild a failing road that to maintain it properly. This has led to much discuss and controversy, including a failed bond issue proposal in 2013.
Did you support or oppose that bond issue in 2013? Why? Have you had second thoughts?
How do you propose to help us address our road needs, if elected? Where will we find the funding to catch up?
(no response yet)
In 2013 there was what I would call a perfect storm on bonding for roads. Interest rates and material costs where at record lows. At the same time the construction business was very eager to keep their operations moving forward. With all these factors in mind, I did support the bond. In hindsight, the perfect storm has past and the voters gave clear direction that bonding was not something they supported. I appreciate and respect their decision and direction.
Catching up on the deteriorating roads is a real challenge. The fact that almost 40% of our city pays no property taxes, because of nonprofit status, make matters even more challenging. I support the ten year plan. It will require patience from residents.
With the economy in its current state we where able to use over $800k in sales tax to fund this year’s portion of the plan. The plan is a work in progress that may require other forms of funding. This will be determined by the economy, but I would be in favor of exploring ways to require the 40% to pay their fair share to improve the roads that they most certainly impact.
More questions and answers will follow soon. If you’re a candidate whose answers do not yet appear here, it’s not too late to send these, too. If you support a candidate whose information isn’t here, it’s a great chance to offer that candidate some help.
For candidate contact information, see American Fork Mayor Candidates Contact Info.
A similar series of Q&A posts about city council candidates begins here.
I absolutely agree the 40% must pay their fair share. Using non-profit status is ridiculous, like expecting to get utilities for free. I was opposed to the aforementioned bond because it wasn’t just for roads. I think public safety should take precedence over arts, parks, and sports when the economy can’t afford the costs for all. Government isn’t responsible for our entertainment although we enjoy those benefits when the budget, whether public or personal can afford it.
Martha, thanks for reading, and thanks for your comments.
I supported the 2013 road bond, but I can see opponents’ point when they tell me they voted against it because it was too much to borrow, because it was too little (didn’t go far enough), because they don’t think government should ever borrow money. You could understand what was being proposed and reasonably oppose the measure for those reasons, among others.
What still surprises and dismays me is how often I hear people say that they opposed it on some basis that is different from the facts. The road bond funds were in fact to be dedicated to rebuilding failed roads. Period. Not routine maintenance (for which I don’t think we should borrow), and not for other purposes unrelated to roads.
I also heard often, and still hear, that the City did not have a comprehensive, detailed plan for using the funds. But it did — no matter how loudly opponents insisted that it didn’t. The plan was discussed at public meetings and readily available online to anyone who cared to see it. It was a prioritized list of every street in the city that needed to be rebuilt, based on current condition and traffic, and the plan was to use the bond funds to get as far into that list as possible. It was only incomplete in the sense that it was impossible to know in advance of the bidding process exactly how far into that list $25 million would reach. (Not even halfway, we knew.)
I wonder if the result would have been different back then had all the voters made their decisions based on the actual facts. Maybe it would have passed, maybe not. We’ll never know.