Democrat Dale Gardiner has pledged to open Salt Lake County's financial records to examination by city officials in an effort to halt double taxation, if he's elected to the two-year County Commission seat.
That step would be part of a three-point plan Gardiner says he would implement to eliminate duplicating taxes and local government services that city and county taxpayers can no longer afford.Opening the county's books to cities would help identify areas of double taxation that could then be addressed and resolved, thereby saving county taxpayers money, the candidate said.
Gardiner, the two-term mayor of Riverton, outlined his program at a press conference held in that city's fire and paramedic station, which he called "symbolic of what I stand for."
In addition to opening the county's financial records, he said he would work to set up shared-services agreements with other local government entities to save more tax dollars.
An example of that concept is the Riverton fire station, Gardiner said. Neither Riverton nor Salt Lake County had sufficient budgets to build and staff a needed fire and paramedic station in the south county.
Gardiner's solution was for Riverton to build the station and pay operating costs, while the county staffed and equipped the station.
"The result of that agreement is this fire station," he said. "The people have a service they would not have had, and the county has a fire station it couldn't afford to build."
The final point of Gardiner's plan would be to begin immediate negotiations with local mayors to establish "reasonable service-oriented agreements between cities and the unincorporated county."
The latest Deseret News/KSL poll done by Dan Jones & Associates shows Gardiner badly trailing his Republican opponent, former commissioner Tom Shimizu, by a 55 percent to 32 percent margin.
Gardiner said the County Commission needs a Democratic member to provide balance and assure full debate of all issues. If Shimizu is elected, the likely all-Republican commission will lack what Gardiner called the necessary "healthy tension" an opposing view would bring.
"The choice is clear," he said. "Vote for me and get someone who really understands government or vote for Shimizu and get the same old song and dance."