Published: Wednesday, May 1 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT
The real problem is that it is not just Orem and not just UTOPIA. It’s
every town, city, county, state in America. The scams include Broadway
theatres, Trax, Art’s, Zoos, Business bribes, and about everything you can
name. Even though the process is the same time after time, the
public never seems to wake up until it’s too late. First
it’s the need. Either real or made up. Then the promises of filling the
need and securing benefits. Second it’s is the funding by
borrowing money by bonds in the taxpayers name. Third, the money
gets spent. Whether the venue gets built or not. Forth, the
developer businessman leaves, with the taxpayer on the hook for the bonds.Fifth, Bankruptcy.
I agree with Richard. This is what happens when government starts competing with
businesses by giving lots of money to a favored business. I hope Orem and other
Utah cities have learned their lesson.
It wasn't just a grand idea poorly executed. It was a lousy idea carried
out by politicians and investment bankers ("financial advisers") who had
no understanding of the market and the inability to competently run a
competitive enterprise. The taxpayers got and are getting hosed on UTOPIA
Orem's problem is that it spent decades betting on sales tax revenues.
Until a few years ago, those bets paid off very well and Orem could live on
shoppers from neighboring towns. Now that this well has started to run dry,
Orem's over-dependence on retail is coming home to roost. A responsible
political leader would explain this to the voters and come up with solutions.
Opportunists like Mr. Brunst prefer to find a scapegoat that fits their existing
political biases.Orem would be better served by a mayor who will
accept the reality of the situation and attempt to make the best of it, not a
low-information populist who seeks to feed and feed on anger.
Maybe the answer is there are too many towns competing. Provo and Orem
should just merge and get it over with, you can't tell the different in
them anyway - cut the overhead, merge services and leadership.
Orem needs to follow in the footsteps of Murray and Tremonton. Both city
councils decided to "cut the cord" and recently told UTOPIA to "go
pound sand" – no more money from their city coffers.
I think those big empty "skyscrapers" on State Street give Utopia a run
for its money...
I spoke in favor of UTOPIA at the hearing, I thought it was a good idea in
theory, so I will ask for you to pass the salt while I eat crow on this one.
Perhaps it is time to cut our (I was a resident of Orem for over 30 years and
recently relocated but still own property there) losses.I agree with
ultrabob's comments. Sometimes there are problems that government should
not try to solve. Specifically those items that require bonded dollars which
leaves the public hold the bag, and note, while those who made up the idea,
whose friends made out like bandits, move on.As to merging Orem with
the city to the south, Forgetaboutit. Orem may have its issues but Provo has
subscriptions of problems. Being bigger would exacerbate the problems both
cities face, and city government would only get bigger. Oh, each city has
liabilities that the other city would also incur, meaning a new city with a lot
of debt. We need to play nice, share and take our turn, but stay separate and
single on this one.
Together Utopia and the Orem City leaders have done irreparable financial harm
to the citizens of Orem. The Orem City officials should be voted out of office
and Utopia fired. Now that Google is here, Utopia should fold and allow a
legitimate business to take over. The idea that my property taxes should be
inordinately hiked to support a failed business is criminal.
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