With that simple word,
the past several months of Truth in Taxation hearings and town hall meetings were over. Tooele County will now levy a 66 percent property tax increase.
I attended the last Truth in Taxation hearing on Aug. 20 at Deseret Peak Complex where the commissioners voted to approve the tax increase. The outcome should have made me feel happy. After all, I was a proponent of the tax increase both in past columns and at the meeting.
I did feel happy and relieved, in a way. It felt good to be done with months of wrangling. It felt good to know we won’t have to continue to debate the issue. And it felt good to know that several others shared the same sentiment that the county needs the tax increase.
But at the same time, I didn’t feel like jumping up and down with joy. No one performed cartwheels. No one exchanged celebratory high-fives. The majority of us in the audience shuffled out quietly to leave the commissioners to talk about less exciting agenda items like garbage containers. In a word, the outcome was sobering.
It’s like me arguing a point with my husband for a long time, gnashing my teeth and advocating passionately for something. I’m ready to rail and fight some more, but he simply says, “Okay.” It’s anti-climactic. It’s so surprising it catches me off-balance. I’m too spent to feel victorious.
I don’t mean any disrespect with my analogy. I know better than to make light of the situation because I’m aware this issue was important to many. So important that people came out on the first, busy school night of the year to voice their opinion. And many attended other meetings religiously.
To all who engaged in the fight, whichever side you were on, thank you. To our commissioners and their staff, thank you for all your hard work. To former county employees who gave their all, thank you.
One thing I realized as I sat there listening to one person after the next, some more polished than others, but all equally passionate, is that we have a lot more in common than we have differences.
We want our families to thrive in a community we can be proud of.
We want a lean and efficient government. Though sharply divided on needs versus wants, we agree we must use taxpayer funds responsibly. Many of us are trying desperately to live within our means and we expect our government to do the same.
We have talented and intelligent members of the community who have ideas and energy. We must tap this diverse resource to produce innovative, long-term solutions to create good jobs and boost the local economy.
We hold our government leaders accountable. We want transparency. We want answers when we ask questions.
We don’t want a repeat of this financial fiasco. We might be forgiving, but we certainly won’t be quick to forget. We’ll be watching to make sure our commissioners stay on course and earn back our trust.
So yes, it was sobering, but I couldn’t be prouder of how Tooele County residents stepped up when they were needed most. If we all continue to be engaged in our government, our county will be stronger for it.
Jewel Punzalan Allen is a memoir writing coach and an award-winning journalist who lives in Grantsville. Visit her website at www.TreasuredStories.net.