I am torn regarding the impending Lehi City parks and recreation bond. My conservative ideology espouses a Milton Friedman philosophy that we should cut taxes whenever we can, as much as we can, as often as we can. But I also am very pragmatic and understand that infrastructure such as roads, schools, and parks don’t build themselves.
The Alpine School District bond, however, is technically net neutral. The roughly $361 million bond is designed to replace expiring bonds, and will result in no increase of our property taxes. It will also provide continuing funding for the construction of schools, but the acceptance of this bond will be a conscious foregoing of a property tax decrease.
The Lehi City bond represents an increase to our property taxes. This $50 million bond equates to approximately $14.75 per month increase in property taxes for an average home value of $285,000 or approximately $185.00 increase per year. It would provide funding for infrastructure and capital improvements to parks and trails throughout the city.
I am torn additionally due to the fact that I have volunteered as a coach in Lehi over the last ten years in football, baseball and soccer. Ten years ago when the population in Lehi was approximately 37,000 residents, I saw firsthand the struggle finding and sharing field time for each of these sports.
Four years ago when I was first elected to the Utah House of Representatives, the population in Lehi was approximately 46,000 residents. Today, the population in Lehi is roughly 61,000. I believed we needed more fields and parks and trails ten years ago. What will happen if we continue to grow at a similar pace over the next 10 years? How crowded will our city, schools, parks, and playing fields be if we fail to act now?
The freeway interchange at Thanksgiving Point is a perfect example of failure to anticipate, plan, and/or fund the appropriate infrastructure capital improvements to meet the growth of an area within our city. If we fail to act now, where will we be 10 years from now?
These two bonds represent an investment in our schools and infrastructure throughout our school district and city. I am not a fan of increasing property taxes. I understand this is fundamentally a question of prioritization. So I ask you all, should we invest in the future now, or should we stand pat? What will Lehi look like in 10 years if we don’t authorize these bonds? Are you satisfied with your vision of what the City will look like 10 years from now if we don’t authorize these bonds?
The interest rates on the bonds being considered are the lowest they have been over the last 50 years. Now may be the best time to act, while rates are low and construction costs are low. What will it cost to act if we wait? Only time will tell.
I am torn because I espouse a strong voice for fiscal discipline at the State House of Representatives and ideologically generally oppose tax increases. But pragmatically I know that if we fail to act, we will find the city and the district in a “Thanksgiving Point Interchange” state and will have more “gridlock.”
I for one will be supporting these bonds. I don’t particularly like the need to bond and the corresponding taxes, but I fully appreciate and recognize the need. I support investing in the infrastructure to meet the needs of today and tomorrow. Failure to act now will guarantee failure in our City in the future.
Please let me know your thoughts.
Utah House of Representatives