Utah governmental agencies would have plenty of money left over every year if they didn't engage in "silly" projects, according to Dr. Jon Miller, associate professor of economics at the University of Utah.
Many of his so-called "silly" proj-ects are done in the name of prog-ress or economic development, but in many instances it is difficult to determine if they actually accomplish what they are supposed to, Miller said.Some of his silly projects include the Central Utah Water Conservancy District wanting to get the Central Utah Project involved in the power business, most of Utah's water policy calling for more water storage when water already is being wasted and the Great Salt Lake pumping proj-ect.
Some of the others he listed for the Wasatch Front Economic Forum in the Little America Hotel were the super tunnel from Draper to the ski resorts, expansion of the ski resorts, paving the Burr Trail and building a light rail transit system in Salt Lake County.
He also wondered why people built the Crossroads Mall across from the ZCMI Center and then wonder why the rest of the downtown area is deteriorating.
Others speakers at the meeting were Dr. Scott Thompson, associate director of economics at Weber State College, and Dr. James Seidelman, associate professor of economics at Westminster College.
Miller said that instead of hearing from the proponents and opponents of population control when talking about Utah's economic woes, Miller said the focus should be on the quality of life and per capita income.
He said the announced out-migration of Utahns doesn't mean that "we have failed in Utah. It's just something that happens." Miller said the projections that Utah's school enrollment will decline in the mid-1990 should be taken seriously by the planners.
Thompson talked about a recent property tax increase in Ogden, imposed to offset the declining federal revenue sharing money coming into the area. He said property tax rates increased, but the amount of service residents received for that money didn't increase, meaning the money went to relieve the city's fiscal distress instead.
As a result, Thompson said he talked to an official of an Ogden company that might want to expand, but the expansion won't occur in Ogden or Utah because of the high taxes.
Seidelman said America in the 1970s went through a "boom and bust" economy and some of the industries never fully recovered. He said defense contracts have helped the Utah economy, but as the federal deficit is lowered the money for defense will shrink and the state economy will be affected.
Strategies for lowering the foreign trade deficit will have a negative impact on some industries, Seidelman said, and "protectionism" isn't the way to help the world economy.