Road funding: Public hearing to be held for proposed tax increase

City officials are asking voters to approve Proposition 1 on the ballot in November. The ballot initiative proposes a 0.25 percent increase in sales tax - 1 cent out of every $4 - would go to transportation infrastructure and public transit funding, St. George, May 24, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Want to learn more about Proposition 1, the proposed quarter-cent sales tax slated for transportation infrastructure and public transit? Well on Tuesday you can. A public hearing in which voters can share their input on the ballot initiative will be held at 6 p.m. in the Washington County Administration Building in St. George.

Proposition 1 is a local option sales tax initiative that asks voters if they want to increase the county sales tax by 0.25 percent for the funding of future road upgrades and repairs and public transit. If passed, 1 cent out of every $4 will go to transportation infrastructure.

Downtown St. George at Main Street and St. George Boulevard, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Downtown St. George at Main Street and St. George Boulevard, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The local option sales tax is an option given to the counties as a part of the 2015 legislation that rose the state gas tax by 5 cents. Provided voters approved the measure, it gives counties and municipalities the potential for additional funding beyond that provided by the increased gas tax.

Largely in favor of the measure have been a number of the county’s mayors, five of whom have their names on a letter hosted on the county website that asks voters to pass Proposition 1. The listed mayors include St. George Mayor Jon Pike, Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson, Hurricane Mayor Jon Bramall, Ivins Mayor Chris Hart and Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg.

“The population of Washington County is projected to double in the next few decades,” the mayors wrote. “The current mechanisms for meeting growing transportation needs are insufficient. We can’t let traffic keep building and air pollution worsen. We need to invest to keep people moving, keep the economy strong and strengthen our quality of life.”

Investing in roads now, the mayors argue, will save on costly repairs later on that will divert city funds from other needed areas.

“We have to prudently take care of our current roads rather than let them fall into disrepair,” the mayors wrote. “When that happens, the cost to taxpayers of deferred maintenance is much higher: $1 invested to preserve our roads saves residents $10 – $25 in costly repair or replacement later.”

The funding won’t just be for roads but also trails, bike paths and other active transportation facilities. In the case of St. George and Ivins, it will also add additional funding for the SunTran public transit system.

It is anticipated that around 30 to 40 percent of the revenue generated from the tax will come from people visiting the county.

The tax itself does not apply to food, utilities, mortgages, rent or medical expenses.

Speaking against the measure in a letter on the county website is Larry Meyers, chairman of the Dixie Republican Forum.

“Most voters would agree that building and maintaining local roads should be a top priority,” Meyers wrote. ”Proposition 1 raises hard questions: Have roads been neglected? Why is transportation not a higher priority in current municipal budgets?”

Downtown Springdale, Utah, June 11, 2015 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News
Downtown Springdale, Utah, June 11, 2015 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

Not passing Proposition 1 will make local governments reexamine how they allocate their funds and better determine what matters most and what would be the best use of taxpayer money.

Meyers also wrote that the sales tax could have a negative effect on businesses in the county by potentially causing them to raise prices and become less competitive.

“To keep taxes low and require our local governments to make the harder and wiser choices, voters should vote ‘No’ on Proposition 1,” Meyers wrote.

If the measure is passed, St. George is anticipated to receive an annual amount of $1.4 million for road infrastructure and $1.6 for the SunTran public transit service.

Washington City would receive $311,100; Hurricane would get $205,500; Santa Clara would get $59,300 and Ivins would get $75,600 for roads and $37,600 for its part of SunTran.

Public hearing information

  • What: Public hearing concerning Proposition 1.
  • When: 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 18.
  • Where: The Washington County Administration Building, 197 E. Tabernacle Street, in St. George.
  • Admission: Free.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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7 Comments

  • .... October 17, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    I’m looking forward to this tax increase going through. ( which it will ) will be a great incentive to St George and surrounding areas. happy shopping folks and enjoy your new sales tax because it WILL happen. …have a nice day

  • Common Sense October 18, 2016 at 6:57 am

    Normally I am not pro mass transit. However in our city it is much needed for our youths. I fully support expanding the Sun Tran to Santa Clara, Ivins and even out to Hurricane.

  • CaliGirl October 18, 2016 at 10:43 am

    If I vote yes, can you please fix W 1250 N in St. George? Add some curb and gutter to keep all the mud, gravel and debris? And put down some asphalt to fix all the pot holes. Also, set a police officer at Bluff & W 1250 N and site everyone crossing a double yellow line to get to church!

  • Forsooth October 18, 2016 at 11:01 am

    If this was occurring in a vacuum, I might have less to say. Roads are important; public transit is a good thing. But the city and county leaders are asking for more money after burning through their previous budgets like drunken sailors. They means to tell us, with a straight face, that there isn’t enough money for basic needs but there was money sufficient to build a volcano with a choo-choo train going around it? There are resources enough to consider a new multi-million dollar courthouse because the old one ‘has too many stairs,’ but not enough to ensure the basic safety of our roads? Seriously, pull off the mask and I have strong suspicion that mayor Pike is three toddlers in a grown-up costume.

    • .... October 18, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      Well it doesn’t matter. it’s going to happen so happy shopping and enjoy your new tax because you WILL pay it

    • Bob October 19, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      the moment when u realize the tax and spend mormon-republicans of wash co. make ‘the liberals’ the conservative party. gotta love choo choo trains tho, yes? …. lol

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