Here are incumbent American Fork City Councilman Clark Taylor‘s responses to the ten questions I sent to all the candidates. His responses are unedited and presented without comment.
Qualifications, Platform, and Workload
Q: Please summarize your preparation and qualifications to serve on the American Fork City Council.
A: Firstly, I love American Fork, so it’s on me to contribute and do my part. I’ve served three elected, nonconsecutive council terms and two years as an appointed member. Beyond the council, I’ve been a member of the Planning Commission, Arts Council, Historical Preservation, and chaired the Parks and Recreation as well as the Steel Days Committees.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish, if elected? Are there programs and other measures you would promote? Are there others you would oppose or dismantle? Why?
A: I’m all about a strong, dedicated team that thrives on unity despite differing views. We’ve got to skip the political games and agendas—they don’t make residents happier or businesses flourish. I’m a resident too, so council decisions affect me just like anyone else. We’re all in this together so I want to lock arms and continue make great things happen.
Q: Are you able and committed to spend the time necessary from week to week to do well as a member of the city council? (Experienced city councilors have placed this in a range of 10-20 hours for a typical week.)
I am and I have. I’m committed to the work required and my experience proves me out. It’s work but it’s my community. It’s a worthwhile and rewarding lift for sure.
Q: Utah’s Truth in Taxation law, as intentionally crafted by the legislature, slowly strangles local government budgets by ignoring inflation in calculating certified tax rates. Unless a local government implements regular small property tax increases (as the law requires them to be called, even if the tax rate decreases from year to year), it can’t even break even from year to year in real, inflation-adjusted dollars. (Such regular, small increases have been the common practice of the Alpine School District.) When a strangling city finally cannot wait anymore, has to adopt a large tax increase just to catch up. Is Truth in Taxation, as structured, a good thing? Would annual, small, so-called tax increases be wise for American Fork, to keep up with inflation? Would you support and advocate the legislature amending the law to index certified tax rates for inflation, to reduce or remove the problem?
A: The way Truth in Taxation is set up clearly has its limits and issues. To me it makes sense to have the Legislature change the law to let certified tax rates go up with inflation or find a similar solution. In American Fork, we had not increased taxes since 2008. Trying to provide services at 2008 revenue levels with today’s costs was not working. So, we bumped up the certified rate by 31%. That equaled approximately $9.00 per month. That’s like a 2.5% increase each year over that 15-year period. We had feedback from citizens at our Truth in Taxation meetings that smaller increases each year, if necessary, were more favorable than the big correction jump. Despite what people think, no one likes raising taxes, but who wants to give up the library or the rec center or even more critical, have less public safety personnel available. It’s what level of service we want or need from the city we live it. Tough to have one without the other.
Q: If you were a resident of American Fork at the last such vote, what was your vote on renewing the PARC tax? Why?
A: YES! PARC is funded by everyone who does business in American Fork, which includes buying a car or grabbing a burger. The residents of American Fork are the beneficiaries. Art Dye is just one example of a project completed thanks to the PARC tax.
Q: What is your position on the City’s citywide fiber optic project? Why?
A: Absolutely on board. The Covid era highlighted the importance of a reliable home connection for learning and work. This new fiber plan’s structure enables American Fork to utilize our previous fiber investment. With an open network, residents get top-notch service through competition of ISP’s. Usage fees from those who choose this system will fund the bond payment with the potential of monthly fees lower than their current internet provider’s fees.
Q: What can the City do to promote civic engagement in the newer neighborhoods of the city, where most of the dwellings are multifamily and the turnover is relatively high?
A: The city’s internal team has really ramped up our social media communications, sharing everything from garbage day pickup changes to the buzz around Steel Days. We should keep that momentum going and use these same channels to spread the word about cool committee opportunities etc. and how people can engage and be involved.
Q: Should a city’s budgeting and finances operate differently from a family’s? How and why (or why not)?
A: There are similarities like needs, austerity, planning and sacrifice. I believe a family budget can share attributes of a city budget. Cities have several funds that a home budget may not. A family budget doesn’t have restrictions or “buckets” of revenue that can only be spent in certain ways. Also, cities have to abide by a revenues equal expenditures equation, where home budgets can incorporate savings to a much more significant level. In fact, Utah State law requires that our General Fund carry a fund balance of no more the 35% of total revenues and no less than 5%. The current staff and council has worked very hard on this, and our fund balance is at 35%. Those are the critical differences I see.
Two More Questions
Q: Describe a time you’ve been wrong about something in local politics. What was it? How did you come to decide you were wrong? What did you do in response?
A: I hated the idea of moving the Carnival from Robinson Park, the spot filled with all my Steel Days memories, to Art Dye Park and I was quite vocal about it. I had worries like “no trees” and being far from town. But, wow, I was so wrong. Now, we’ve got this awesome location for the heart of our city celebration, with centralized activities and multiple roads in and out. Most neighbors have been incredibly understanding and patient, which is the real secret sauce. That week must be inconvenient at best on them, but their cooperation has helped make our celebration’s a great success.
Q: Does the proper role of local government differ in any substantial way from the proper role of the federal government? Please explain.
A: This is where you see your involvement make a difference. The issues that we face as a council aren’t partisan issues. We work together and work to get things done. Local government has rules and procedures in some ways like the federal government but thankfully, it ends there. Citizens can immediately effect change, and I love that.
Thanks, Councilman Taylor!
Thanks to everyone for reading. If you’re a voter, you have until Tuesday, September 5, to mail or drop off your ballot. Please Learn BEFORE You Vote.
To that end, see answers by candidates Tim Holley, Austin Duke, Elizabeth Gray, Christina Ballard, and Ken Sumsion. And don’t miss John Mulholland’s report of his interviews with most of the candidates.
Watch for answers from other candidates and more information and opinion coming soon. If you’re one of the candidates who hasn’t send answers yet, the invitation is still open.