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.
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?”
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.
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