Salt Lake County politicos are abuzz this week after Democratic County Mayor Peter Corroon released a proposed budget that included a 17.5-percent property tax hike. The controversy arose because he waited until after his replacement was elected to release the figures, possibly upsetting the exceptionally close race between the Democratic winner, Ben McAdams and his Republican challenger, Mark Crockett.
I praise the Davis County Commission for averting such a scandal by releasing its tentative budget well before the election. That budget does not include a property tax increase, but is about $3 million higher than the 2012 budget due to tourism growth and an improving economy, county staff reports.
However, I believe that many residents here are overly complacent about county government. I hear protests about the federal government and its budget on a regular basis from our readers, but I heard surprisingly little about the race between incumbent County Commissioner John Petroff, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger Steve Andersen.
As almost everyone predicted, Petroff won in a landslide victory, with more than 68 percent of the vote.
Considering Andersen’s campaign platform criticizing the county’s decision to take on debt for public buildings compared to growing national concern over the federal deficit, I would have expected closer results.
I also consider that Davis County has elected very few Democrats to the commission over the decades, and I believe that many residents here never even consider voting for a Democrat, regardless of his or her merits.
I support Petroff and other county leaders, and I don’t think their decision to take out bonds was reckless or irresponsible. However, Davis County issues such as these should see more debate.
As I have asserted before, we must participate in local politics. Our city and county elected officials are easier to reach and closer to home, thereby allowing us greater opportunity to effect the governing of ourselves. Furthermore, the decisions of local leaders have much greater effect on shaping our community values and boosting our own jobs and the local economy. We cannot rest on our laurels. Complacency, over time, will certainly result in a loss of the freedoms we so highly prize.
It may make Salt Lake County look bad to be embroiled in controversy over when the budget should have been released, but it’s heartening that our neighbors to the south are paying attention. Even if it increases the level of conflict in our own county, I encourage all our readers to do the same.
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