Draper Voters To Decide On Taxation For Improved TransportationAug 06, 2015 09:39AM ● By Bryan Scott
By Chloe Bartlett
Draper - This November, Draper residents may have the opportunity to dramatically alter the way they get around town. Though Salt Lake County has not yet made a decision to include it on this year’s ballot, voters potentially have the chance to decide if they want to consent to a sales tax increase of 0.25%, 0.10 of which would be given to the city to combat transportation issues. Over the course of a year, that 0.10 would amount to approximately $1 million in additional revenue for the city to spend on correcting problems with roads, sidewalks and travel in general.
The increase, which is authorized under HB 362, a new law that took effect July 1, has already been put on other cities’ ballots. These cities, along with Draper, believe that additional funds would ultimately lead to a transportation system that is safer, more reliable and overall better for the community.
“All the mayors across the county have been working on this proposal for a number of years … this is specifically one of those taxes that if the voters approve it, it will go specifically to road projects and transportation. It doesn’t get spent anywhere else,” Draper Mayor Troy Walker said.
With the immense growth that Utah anticipates in the next few years, local and state governments are seeing the need to create more transit options not only for the sake of travel, but also to generate jobs and increase economic development.
Health and safety for residents are also major concerns. The state’s poor air quality harms residents who struggle with asthma and other breathing restrictions; the lack of adjoining trails, sidewalks and bike lanes endangers those who regularly use them and, if they are not used, could be contributing to Utah’s obesity problem. The solution, then, would be to make additions to what Draper already has in place in order to secure the well being of all residents.
But in spite of the numerous benefits that would come about as a result, the mere mention that there could be a sales tax increase has left Draper residents distressed.
“Personally, I think we might want to solve some of the more minor issues we have first before we jump into bigger projects. We have enough trouble just making sure that our trails are maintained properly,” Draper resident Fred Jansen said.
Erick Wilkins, who also opposes the tax hike, said, “Unless I start getting paid more, I can’t say that I would be happy about a tax increase.”
The city acknowledges that these are both valid concerns, but urges residents to see past them and consider the immense improvements that could be made if the tax is set in motion. Many issues that residents would like resolved have not been addressed and have repeatedly been backlogged due to insufficient funding.
Many would like to see a push towards mass transit, including Jane Isaacs who said, “I hate trying to even get out of my neighborhood and onto 1300 East, especially now with the construction they’re doing on it. I wouldn’t mind riding TRAX, but I have to use that same road [1300 East] to get there. If they put another station in Draper that would be great.”
Depending on what the ballot looks like this fall, Draper residents may have a larger responsibility placed on them than usual, but a thoughtful consideration of what the tax would achieve will lead to a decision that suits the community’s wants and needs