Utahns should defeat three proposed tax rollback measures and lower taxes instead by consolidating local government services and attracting new industry, according to Salt Lake Tribune Publisher Emeritus John W. Gallivan.
Gallivan, who is also on the steering committee of the anti-rollback Taxpayers for Utah, told Salt Lake Rotary Club members this week that the proposed tax rollbacks would be catastrophic for the state.For example, he predicted they would cost Granite School District $20 million a year, Jordan School District $14 million and Salt Lake City School District $17 million. "I don't like paying taxes either, but there's no fat there left to cut," he said.
He also predicted that the measures which would cap property tax and lower or reform other state taxes would also cost Salt Lake County government $29 million and cost small governments such as mosquito abatement districts up to 45 percent of their funds.
Gallivan said the cuts would also bring the loss of some federal funds that match local spending. For example, he said the cuts would force the state to reduce Medicaid spending by $6.2 million, which would lose $17.5 million in federal matching funds.
He added that already-stretched state budgets in transportation and corrections would lose $41 million and $8.5 million respectively. He said youth correction and other regional prisons would close, and new prison facilities would be left with no money for operations.
Tax revolt organizers have said they have more than the 63,000 signatures needed to put those measure on the ballot this November. But they are still seeking more signatures before the June 1 deadline, fearing that some signatures could be disqualified.
Unlike Gallivan, tax revolt organizers say their measures would force government to be more efficient as similar proposals in some states have.
But Gallivan said Utahns would be wiser to save money by consolidating services and attracting new industry to help share the tax burden.
He said a new proposal in Salt Lake County would facilitate consolidating services by abolishing the current three-man County Commission and forming a council composed of the 12 mayors in the county plus three or so representatives of the unincorporated area.
Each council member would be given as many votes as residents in the area he represents. Gallivan said the resulting council could be more free to find ways of combining services, eliminating duplication and saving administrative costs.
He also said Salt Lake City has a golden opportunity to attract new industry by the way it redevelops Block 57 the deteriorated block between Main and State streets and Second and Third South streets.
Gallivan said the city should make a "Grand Central Station" style depot there for a light rail system to the suburbs. He envisions 3,000 to 4,000 underground parking stalls plus a new shopping mall and office complex.