City officials reacted with disappointment and dismay Tuesday evening as a $5.7 million road bond proposal smoldered and died.
"I was truly convinced that if we got out there and educated the people we'd win. Obviously I was wrong," said Councilman Harv Cahoon, who was the chairman of a pro-bond group of residents that distributed pamphlets door-to-door and blanketed the city with yard signs promoting the election.The City Council had two strikes against it going into the election. It had already passed a 40 percent property tax increase that would have raised taxes for the owner of an average-size home about $3.60 per month. Also, the city implemented a 6 percent utility franchise tax. A $5-per-month storm sewer fee was dropped in the process, as was a one-quarter-cent city sales tax.
An unknown individual or group of people opposing the bond spray painted a large "no" across many of the group's signs several days before Tuesday's election.
Almost 32 percent of the city's registered voters went to the polls, an unusually high percentage for a special, single-issue election. "At least you can't say it was apathy," said Councilman Dave Plouzek.
Lawrence Hunt, a long-time West Jordan resident, led the charge against the bond. "I'm quite pleased about it," he said of the outcome. "I worked long and hard on this and I just didn't think it was handled right."
Hunt said he could have gone along with the 40 percent city property tax increase, "but I don't believe in that franchise tax at all. I found hundreds of people that never even knew about this franchise tax. They never knew one thing about it until I brought it up."
The polls closed at 8 p.m., and an unofficial tally came in at 10:45 p.m. All together 1,685 voted for the bond and 2,143 voted against. An official vote count is scheduled Tuesday.
Voters supported the bond in only four of 12 consolidated districts. The bond would have been used to widen portions of Redwood Road and 90th South, build a new road connecting 72nd South at I-15 with 70th South at 13th West, and several smaller proj-ects with the goal of attracting new businesses into West Jordan.
Even the districts adjacent to the proposed road projects did not favor the bond.
Mayor Kristin Lambert said she was not surprised at the high turnout but did not expect the bond proposal to lose.
"I wrote a great winning statement," Lambert said, adding that she believes most of the people who voted against the bond were either venting their rage against the new utility franchise tax or because they believed the bond would raise their taxes. "I will go to my grave saying most people thought it was going to cost more than it did and didn't know what projects were involved."
"Though we are very disappointed with the outcome, we will of course continue to do the best we can with what we've got," Lambert said. "It is obviously a time for regrouping and readjusting."
All of the city's elected, paid and volunteer staff promoted the bond election, Lambert said. "On the other hand we had four or five opponents. Between those two (sides), people chose the handful of opponents that came in the week before the election.