An Oct. 4 bond election is the focus of an intense publicity campaign by elected officials and residents.
City Council members are trying to thwart opposition from residents that are feeling stung by a 40 percent property tax increase and new 6 percent utility franchise tax.Confusion about the bond issue has arisen, said Councilwoman Penny Atkinson, because some residents believe taxes would go up again if the $5.7 bond proposal passes. "We have been bombarded by phone calls from people that think their property taxes are going to go up again because of the bond."
Council members have held about 40 neighborhood meetings to explain the tax increases and promote the bond issue, Atkinson said.
The bond would finance road-widening projects on 90th South and on Redwood Road. Revenues from the property tax increase would be used to repay the bond. If the bond fails, the city will still be collecting the money but won't have a mechanism to finance the road-projects, Atkinson said.
A group calling itself Truly Concerned Citizens of West Jordan contends the city is ignoring residents' pleas against higher taxes. Lawrence Hunt, a member of the group, said property and franchise tax provisions approved by the city would double the local tax burden.
Hunt says in a press release that residents have already paid for road improvements, but the money was spent to build a new city shop complex instead. He suggests the city open itself to a volunteer audit.
City Manager Ron Olson said Hunt's contention is unfounded. The shop was paid for with water and sewer fee reserves, Olson said. "There was no state money. There was especially no state road money."
In addition to the neighborhood meetings, council members fostered a pro-bond organization called Citizens for West Jordan's Future that has posted signs at the roadside and on utility poles urging residents to vote for the bond. Councilman Harv Cahoon is the committee's fund-raising chairman.
The city has also generated press releases and devoted five pages of a $1,200 newsletter to bond-election issues.
"From Day 1 we've said `if you'll just give us a chance we'll explain," Mayor Kristin Lambert told the Deseret News earlier in the struggle over adverse publicity. "One of the concerns that I do have is a lot of anger about the franchise tax is spilling over into the bond issue."