Utah County voters deserve praise for approving a $7.7 million bond Tuesday for a special events center at Utah Valley Community College.
The center's exhibition halls and 8,500-seat arena will be able to host many events that ordinarily wouldn't be attracted to the valley. It will enhance the quality of life in this area.It was sad to see that only 8,890 people cared enough to cast ballots in the special election. That means that one person voted yes or no for approximately every 11.5 registered voters in the county. As is typical with off-season elections, a small minority decided what was best for everyone.
At least the Utah County Commission held the election. It didn't have to. Commissioners could have approved an industrial revenue bond on their own. To their credit, they allowed the people to speak. It's just too bad that thousands of them opted to remain silent.
Those who did vote deserve a little credit, too.
Because it was a special election, election officials combined voting districts. That caused confusion among residents. Many didn't know where to vote. Some went to two or three polling places before finding the right one. At least they were persistent. It would have been much easier to go home after finding usual voting district polling centers empty.
Others made an effort to find out where to vote by calling the county or the college. UVCC received about 500 telephone calls on election day from citizens wanting to know polling sites.
UVCC President Kerry Romesburg said it wouldn't surprise him to find out that half of the voters came from three groups: the college, Geneva Steel and WordPerfect. All three had in-house campaigns urging employees to vote in favor of the bond.
Maybe the turnout would have been greater had the commission opted to increase property taxes to pay off the debt rather than impose a 1 percent restaurant tax. Maybe the result would have been different.
Let's not forget that property taxes could still be increased to cover the debt. The Utah Restaurant Association organized an initiative to repeal the new law allowing counties to place a tax on prepared foods. They're aiming to get it on the November 1992 election ballot. They're confident the law will be repealed.
Should that happen, the county commission has indicated it will consider raising property taxes.
UVCC officials hope to begin constucting the events center in the fall of 1992. That is dependent upon the Legislature allocating $10 million to the college for a physical education center. That money is to be combined with $7.7 million to build both facilities as one.
Even though voters approved the bond last Tuesday, the events center issue is not over. It deserves continued public attention. Things could change.
(Dennis Romboy, American Fork, is a staff writer in the Deseret News' Utah County Bureau.)