Property tax hike in Orem sparks action, discord

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 26 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

"Two budget years (will be) hobbled without knowing what the tax increase is," Nelson said. "This is Utah and we're good at stretching a dollar, but we're really, really stretching it."

While Burr has actively been enlisting petitioners and gathering signatures, Nelson has spearheaded efforts to find and assist Orem residents interested in getting their names removed from the referendum petition.

Burr became involved because he was concerned that the tax increase is partially the result of Orem's UTOPIA obligation. He thinks the city should find other ways to fund the project.

"It's not the proper role of the government to take taxpayers' money and put it on private enterprise types of things," Burr said. "(With UTOPIA), people are either paying taxes on something they personally can't get into their homes and ... when they do (get the service), a lot of them find it isn't exactly what people have meant it to be."

Nelson said the city has to pay for UTOPIA with or without the tax increase. Her concern is maintaining services for what she considers is a small increase.

"Why would we want to destroy something when what we're talking about is $4 per month?" she asked. "This is why I got involved. ... I don't like misinformation and destruction for no reason. City parks, public service ... I don't see why we're (jeopardizing) that."

Hans Andersen was the lone Orem council member to vote against the tax hike. He said he disagreed with the way the budget was handled.

"The main thing that I was trying to raise was the right of the taxpayers to vote on the tax increase," he said. "My concern was that the public, (which) is going to pay the bill, was not going to be involved in the decision."

Burr said the deadline for the petition is Friday,  but he wants to have the signatures turned in Thursday. Meantime, Nelson has volunteers working to convince those who have signed the petitions to have their signatures removed.

If the referendum fails, the tax hike will go into effect Jan. 1. If it succeeds, the increase will be frozen until a special election is held in June or in November next year.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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