fter laying off 25 percent of its workers, merging departments, closing down services and exercising other cost-cutting measures, Tooele County has determined it still needs to impose a 66 percent tax hike. This amounts to an annual property tax bill of $73 on a $150,000 home, or $6.08 per month.
Let’s see. For six bucks, one can buy a cheeseburger, watch a movie in the theaters, or buy two bags of Cheetos — one puffs, one crunchy — on sale.
In other words, $6.08 seems fairly reasonable in the bigger scheme of things. But to many, “tax” in whatever shape or form, is a four-letter word.
Fire more employees. Cut back on services. Sell Deseret Peak Complex. That’s what a crowd told the county commissioners at the June 25 town hall meeting. (“Crowd tells county to sell Deseret Peak,” June 27) Anything but raise taxes.
So when the county abolished the Erda and Pine Canyon Planning Commissions last week in an effort to cut $15,000 you’d think people would laud that action, but they didn’t. (“County abolishes planning boards,” July 4).
Um, didn’t we just tell the commission to cut back on services to avoid a tax hike?
Thing is, as we are painfully discovering, you can’t get something for nothing. Whittle down the government to barebones and you’ll soon feel the pinch.
Here’s a real-life analogy. We recently had a septic tank put into our yard. Anticipating the need to hook it up eventually to the city sewer system, I asked the contractor to add about 30 feet of pipe under the lawn facing the street, “only if it won’t cost me more.” I figured they were digging anyway.
Imagine my surprise the next day when I talked to the contractor and he said it would cost me an extra couple hundred dollars. “Well,” he said, “it cost me money to have my guy come out, dig a longer trench, and buy the material.”
I could have argued that when I made the request I’d specifically said I’d do it if “it didn’t cost me more,” but I didn’t. I had learned my lesson. I shouldn’t have expected getting something for nothing.
Being unwilling to pay more in taxes is like trying to get something for nothing.
I’m not an advocate of big, inefficient and wasteful government, but I do believe that there are some things in life worth having, even if it costs us a little more. Public safety. Road maintenance and facility upkeep. And yes, even recreational facilities and events.
As for privatizing Deseret Peak Complex, sure, that sounds like an option worth checking into. But to hedge your bets on that being the salvation of the county is naive at best. You don’t get buyers with that kind of cash lining up wanting to buy it right away. And, even if Deseret Peak sells, we probably wouldn’t get enough to recoup our cost.
Considering how big the deficit was, the commission is to be lauded for slashing what they can and keeping the tax hike to $6.08 per month.
I’m on board. If it means giving up a couple bags of Cheetos a month, then so be it.
Jewel Punzalan Allen is a memoir writing coach and long-time journalist who lives in Grantsville. Visit her website at www.TreasuredStories.net.