Amanda Hollman, Assistant Opinions Editor, @HollmanAmanda
In an effort to move away from bonding as funding for road maintenance, Provo could see a two percent property tax increase or other funding possibilities.
Road maintenance is a never-ending cycle of problems. Winter weather breaks up the roads with its freezing and melting cycle, then the summer heat comes and creates an even bigger problem. All the while, the public is driving on the roads, causing more damage. That results in residents hitting pothole after pothole and following road detours where repairs are being done to fix more issues. Then winter comes and the cycle starts all over again.
This consistent cycle costs a lot of money, which has been funded by the state, gas taxes, vehicle registration fees and bonds. These bonds give money for a 10-year period, which by law requires the funds to be used in the first few years. Where does that leave us? Seven years for more maintenance needs and no money to fix it. On top of the long period without funds, the bond comes with an interest rate that also needs to be paid for. The Provo City Council has made a commitment not to use bonds so they are exploring ways to have consistent funds for road maintenance.
One option that is being considered is raising the property tax by two percent. This increase would bring about $78,000, about two dollars more per year for each household, to be able to keep the roads maintained without using bonds.
The increase on property tax favors the majority of the residents. College students are temporary citizens and don’t pay property tax. That portion of the public still plays a significant role in the impact of the road conditions. With that being the case, is the increase in property tax the best switch in funding source?
The city is looking into another option for moving away from road bonding, transportation utility fees. This would be a bill to all residents, just as any other utility bill like electric or gas. This alternative to the bonding or the property tax increase allows equal participation from all the residents, including those that are only temporary and don’t pay property tax.
While students may not like this additional cost, it seems like a more reasonable solution for the roads. Students drive to get to a variety of places such as going to hang out at a friend’s place, to go grocery shopping, go to the movies, or many other locations. Since students contribute to the wear and tear on the roads, why shouldn’t they also help out with the cost of the repairs?
The city is still looking into other options, like expenditure cuts and other ideas that have not been thought of yet. In the meantime, explore ideas of your own, find and attend a meeting in your area to give your opinion. College residents may only be living in the city for a few years, but they still can contribute to the decisions made in their place of living.