The Utah Taxpayers Association has come out against an April bond election for a special-events center at Utah Valley Community College, saying proponents have been hasty in moving the proj-ect along.
The group is concerned that Utah County voters haven't had time to fully study and understand the proposal, said Howard Stephenson, association president."We feel it is unfortunate the way this issue has been rushed," he said. "While construction of the arena may have merit, our members seem to oppose it because there are so many questions left unanswered and because of the timing of the special election."
County voters are scheduled to decide April 9 whether to bond for $7.7 million to build the 8,500-seat events center at Utah Valley Community College. The college plans to combine the arena with a state-funded $10 million physical education center. The commission intends to pay off the debt by imposing a 1 percent sales tax on all prepared meals sold in the county.
Stephenson said 64 percent of county association members who responded to a survey oppose the bond proposal. The organization has about 300 members in the county, the majority of which are small businesses.
Commissioner Gary Herbert said some of the information those members based their opinions on was inaccurate. "They just didn't do a good job of wording their questions," he said. Herbert also said the arguments for and against the proposal outlined by the association leaned toward the cons.
"I don't know of any inaccurate information. I guess the poll didn't come out the way he would have liked, so there's room to find criticism," Stephenson said. "I feel it was a very balanced fact sheet."
Herbert said the sheet didn't explain why the election should be held in April and confused respondents about how the county proposed to pay off the bonds.
Commissioners decided to hold the special election April 9 because of the planning money UVCC expected to receive from the state appropriations act approved by the Legislature. Gov. Norm Bangerter last week vetoed planning money in the act for all new state building proj-ects. He has since, however, said the money will be available. Design of the UVCC events center or physical education building must begin July 1.
Stephenson said that still allows the county to have the election in June, giving residents more time to review the proposal.
As for retiring the debt, Stephenson said that when the survey, dated March 15, was mailed out, it was unsure as to whether an increase in property tax or the restaurant tax would be used.
Herbert said the commission told people all along that the tax on prepared foods would be used if the governor approved the Legislative bill giving counties that option. The governor signed the bill last week.
The commissioner said it was also wrong for the association to say the governance of the facility hadn't been established, when in fact it had. A nine-member board - five appointed by the commission and four appointed by the UVCC - will oversee the facility.
Utah County residents will vote April 9 whether to bond for $7.7 million to build a 8,500-seat events center at Utah Valley Community College.
Gov. Norm Bangerter has written Utah County commissioners, saying he supports the project and will make sure money is available to plan the facility, despite his veto last week of a legislative appropriation of money for construction projects.
"We feel it is unfortunate the way this issue has been rushed. While construction of the arena may have merit, our members seem to oppose it because there are so many questions left unanswered and because of the timing of the special election." - Howard Stephenson, Utah Taxpayers Association president.