Residents’ share in road funding could increase with Utah city’s proposed flat fee for repairs

Updated Jun 29, 2016

damaged cracked road cracks asphaltOfficials in Pleasant Grove, Utah, say more than half of the roads in the city are in need of repair, so they are asking for financial help from residents and businesses.

City officials say $3.8 million a year is needed for the next 20 years to make those repairs, but the current annual budget is only $1.5 million, Fox 13 Salt Lake City reports.

“The revenue generation for roads has been through a state tax, through a gas tax, and that revenue is just not enough for us to keep up with all the roads that we have,” Scott Darrington, city administrator, told the news agency.

The city has proposed a monthly road fee of $4.90 for residents and $60.20 for businesses to generate an extra $1 million a year.

Residents have already voted down a tax increase twice that would have provided a new public safety building. â€śWe live in a fiscally conservative state, and this is no different here in Pleasant Grove. We live in a small town, so people voted that down, and this is going to be the same way. People want to know where their money is going,” resident Andrew Black told the news agency.

However, business owner, Chris Cox, of Combat Kung Fu, told the news agency that Pleasant Grove needs to get away from the small town mindset and think about re-energizing the economy. â€śWhatever works to bring in new business is good, so it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me,” he added. “If people want nice things you have to pay to get them.”

The Utah Tax Payers Association questions the legality of a flat fee. â€śWhen you do a flat fee like this, you’re socializing the cost. You’re just charging everyone the same rate,” Billy Hesterman, vice-president of the association, told the news agency, adding that other states were sued when the attempted to implement similar fees. â€śAnd in the courts in those states, they’ve said that’s illegal. They said that’s a tax.”

Pleasant Grove officials insist that Provo recently passed a similar fee, and there were no repercussions.

“I know people debate what’s a fee and what’s a tax, and we are just trying to get the roads fixed and trying to figure out the best and fairest way to do it,” Darrington told the news agency.

Officials plan to hold a public hearing before the fee is implemented so that everyone can express their opinions.