Several agencies in Utah County, including the Utah Valley Economic Development Association, have voted to officially oppose all three tax-limitation initiatives, saying that they go too far and too fast.
"They will kill us as far as economic development is concerned," said DeLance Squire, chairman of UVEDA and executive director of the Commission for Economic Development in Orem.Utah County Commissioner Gary Anderson, also a UVEDA board member, made the motion to oppose the initiatives. "We are opposing the tax initiatives because they will have a fatal effect on economic development in the county," he said.
The Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors also took a stand against the initiatives at its monthly meeting last week. The board agreed that the initiatives are not in the best interest of business and the community.
The three initiatives will be on the general election ballot Nov. 8. Initiative A would cap property taxes on residential property at .75 percent of market value and other property at 1 percent and would limit growth in state and local governments. Initiative B would roll back the 1987 tax increase, restoring sales, income, gasoline and cigarette taxes to 1986 levels. Initiative C would give a state income tax credit to parents whose children attend private schools.
It is Initiative A that has economic developers worried the most, Squire said. With its passage, a community's ability to generate additional sources of revenue (used for economic development) would be stymied, he said.
"There is a formula in it that implements a revenue limitation on a city," said Daryl Berlin, Orem city manager. "Cities will not be able to use the extra money generated from economic development for support services. That is normally one of the advantages of economic development. Why would anyone be interested in economic development if it is costing the city money?
"We hear cries for more economic development in the state, for more jobs to create a higher income base here. That will never happen if it passes. It's a negative incentive."
It will also be difficult to recruit companies to Utah if there isn't quality education programs in the state, Squire said.
Steve Densley, Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce president, said, "Economic development is directly linked to education. We can't attract a company without a strong education system."
Squire said bond rating companies have already put Utah on standby until after the elections. "We had one of the best bond ratings before. A higher interest rate will hurt all of us."
Densley said the "whole initiative thing is a spooky one," but the positive aspect of the initiatives is that they have forced politicians and the general public to focus on more efficiency in government and to make sure citizens are getting the most with taxpayers' dollars.
"We are really on a roll right now (in Utah County)," he said. "Job creation is terrific here, and we need education to be top notch as well."
The League of Women Voters of Utah have also come out against Initiative A and B. No position was taken on Initiative C.
Jill Lesh, state president, spoke to Utah County league members Tuesday about the league's stand. "The tax initiatives are really the issue, not the candidates," she said.