The Nacilbupera Guzzle

Whoever examines with attention the history of the dearths and famines … will find, I believe, that a dearth never has arisen from any combination among the inland dealers in corn, nor from any other cause but a real scarcity, occasioned sometimes perhaps, and in some particular places, by the waste of war, but in by far the greatest number of cases by the fault of the seasons; and that a famine has never arisen from any other cause but the violence of government attempting, by improper means, to remedy the inconveniences of a dearth. (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations IV.5.44)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Provo's Prop 1: The Recreation Tax

On November 2nd, Provo residents will have to decide whether or not to raise property taxes on themselves, their neighbors, and their future neighbors for the next 20 years. The tax hike cause isn't even to balance the budget as "bearded marxist" Delaware Senate Candidate Chris Coons did in his New Castle County Administration times, but to provide increased taxpayer-funded entertainment during the economic blight of a recession.

I am disgusted we are even talking about me having to fork out an estimated $77 per year to fund someone else's entertainment, but the pro-Prop 1 folks--who include city elected officials John Curtis and Laura Cabanilla though lacking their titles in supporting (note full list of sponsors)--think through their support of this recreation tax that they know that that is better for me than using that money to pay down my credit card and get out of debt (or whatever my family's needs may be). How is it we are a city of Repbulicans at the national level jointly decrying socialism, yet when a socialistic notion hits home we think somehow it's OK?

I am further disgusted by the misinformation by some in the pro rec-tax crowd such as Dave Olpin in the "Local Opinion" section of today's Daily Herald. Under Mr. Olpin's section "Financial" he purports:
The average homeowner of a $195,000 home would see a small increase of $2.61 per month in property taxes (less than the cost of a gallon of gas a month)
The problem with this statement isn't that it's untrue, but that it is a half truth--or better stated a 3/20th truth. As the graph available at the city's website shows below for the first three years taxes go up $2.61 a month ($31 annually) for an average $195K home; but for the remaining 17 years it skyrockets to the $77 annually I mentioned above.

Another massive piece of misinformation opined both by Mr. Olpin and Provo City is a user frequency statistic:
A recent survey indicated 78 percent of Provo residents would use a new recreation center at least monthly. (Olpin, 10/6/2010)

78% Will Visit A New Indoor Community Recreation Center Monthly ("A New Community Recreation Center in Provo", Provo City Website PowerPoint Presentation, page 5)
The problem isn't that the 78% is incorrect from the survey, but rather it is miscited. In the actual 29-page survey the wording reads: "Seventy-eight percent of respondent households would visit a new indoor recreation center with the features they most prefer at least once a month." (emphasis mine) Although the survey did try to define what those features were, it is a huge leap to omit this "most preferred feature" wording. Consider what might quickly happen to this 78% rosy statistic when you factor in the following:
  • Your most preferred feature isn't offered in the rec center?
  • Your feature were offered, but not at a time convenient to your household?
  • Your feature were offered, but not all the features needed for other household members?
  • Your feature were offered, but the user fees limited your visits?
In population terms, implying that 78% of our population will be at the rec center at least once a month breaks down to over 3,000 daily unique visits from Provo residents (not counting any repeat visits during the entire month) every day if the rec center were open 6 days a week. I'm going on record right now that you need to throw out that 78% number because it's not happening; it's simply not realistic, in my opinion.

Some argue that the Rec Center will be a community asset we will all share the benefit of. I counter that it is Provo's low tax rates we share the benefit of in inducing home ownership and to retaining and attracting business--and speaking of business, the tax burden is nearly double that of individual home owners ($141 vs $77 on properties of equal value). Rental rates on small businesses will inevitably increase as landowners pass those costs on to their tenants.

A property tax is quite possibly the worst form of tax. If you can't pay this recreation tax, you will lose your home; and how many neighbors have we been witness to in this housing-bubble devastation all across our city. Is it worth risking your home over some rec center? No!!

Here's how the rec center tax proponents won't frame their tax-increasing ambition: Suppose someone came to your door and said, for $77 a year (plus user fees) we will give you access to a beautiful new rec center in downtown Provo for the next 20 years. However, if you default on your payment, we will come and take your home from you. I think most any wise church leader or financial advisor would council heavily against you accepting such a deal. The risks of losing your home, albeit small, are far too great for you to take for such an unworthy cause.

Over a third of our citizenry surveyed wants not a single penny of taxpayer funding for the rec center (Survey, page 25). Neighbors: do we have the tyranny of a democracy where a majority votes tax increases on the minority to put their property at risk of confiscation of the government? I beseech you, even if your household has that kind of money to afford a Rec Tax to take a stand against such tyranny and to not raise my and your fellow neighbors who oppose such taxes.

Say no to the Recreation Tax: Vote NO!!! on Prop 1.

+++ Revision: 10/06 7pm
Curtis tonight graciously offered a correction that he is not using his title as Mayor to support the tax increase and I have correcting this entry to reflect this truth. This said, while he reiterates his private support of a tax increase, I feel could have and should have as Mayor spoken out against the tax increase; thus I don't hold "Mayor Curtis" blameless. It also smacks as a political caviat to say he didn't vote to raise taxes, he just promoted the project and left the citizenry to fight amongst each other over one neighbor's swimming lessons vs. my pocketbook. So much for "city unity."


[Morgan] said...

found your blog while searching for information on provo's prop1.

have to say, you are the first person i've come across that knows what they are talking about.

nacilbupera said...


Thank you. Here's another blog you might find interesting:

Toby said...

You're the 150,000,000th person I've come across who's a greedy, godless, soulless, bigot. When will you realize the tiny amount of tax dollars you'll gain in the short term will not be worth you selling your soul? None of the elected officials care about you unless you're a huge financial contributor that purchased the seat in whatever house of government they sit their fat asses in. You use blogger, I know you are not even at the bottom of their agenda. You are a blind turd, a blind sheep who thinks thinking for yourself is too much work. Good luck with your three more nickles to spend over the next four years. But hey, you have to think about now. I wouldn't expect anything more from a greedy, godless, soul, such as yourself.

Gluttony is a sin. Another thing about you sheep... You invoke god and religion in everything you do, but never once practice what you preach. You hate everything that you do not agree with and you push down the same. Bigotry is a sin too. You will rot in hell.

Best of luck to you. I just hope you drag as few people as possible down (to hell) with you.