Voters in West Jordan will go to the polls next Tuesday in a special $5.7 million bond election. The result will be closely watched because it not only will affect the city's future, but may also offer some clues about the depth and intensity of the statewide tax protest movement.
The proposed bond would pay for widening of Redwood Road, 90th South and 70th South - covering the core business district of the sprawling West Jordan community.The West Jordan bond vote has tax-issue overtones because the City Council recently approved a hefty 40 percent property tax increase. It would either pay for the cost of the bonds or, if the election fails, cover a long-range capital projects program.
Either way, the tax hike already is in place, so the vote technically is not about taxes. However, the City Council is divided about what to do if the bond goes down to defeat. Some members think the council would be obligated, in such an event, to re-consider the property tax hike.
In addition to the higher property tax, West Jordan recently imposed a 6 percent utility franchise tax, taking effect Oct. 1.
While it has nothing to do with the road bond, the franchise tax is related in the minds of many West Jordan residents. Some people angry about the franchise tax may take out their frustrations in the road bond vote.
West Jordan is one of the fastest-growing bedroom communities in Salt Lake Valley. Backers of the bond point to the need for business growth in the area in addition to all the private homes.
Opponents to the road bond are concentrating on the tax issue, arguing that it doubles the tax burden on residents. They also complain that state funds available earlier for road work were used to build a new maintenance shop - an allegation city officials vehemently deny.
West Jordan officials are cautiously optimistic about the bond election outcome, but opponents say they have garnered many signatures on petitions objecting to the tax hikes. The decision may be close.
Whatever the outcome, the bond vote in West Jordan is bound to be seen as a barometer of the larger tax protest movement.
As a result, many eyes will be watching the election returns on Tuesday, although bond elections are not normally big vote-getters. West Jordan citizens have no excuse for apathy on this one. They should get out and vote.