By Mayor Carmen R. Freeman
At this year’s legislative session a number of key issues will be discussed and debated among our state legislators. The proponents of these issues will be vying for public and legislative support and, in most cases, state funding. Each advocate will seek through a myriad of tactics to convince our legislators that their particular issue is the most pressing and critical to our state and now requires their absolute attention and resolution. While it is not my intent to debate which issue has the most relevance, I do wish to mention one concern that will be discussed on the Hill that requires a strong level of understanding – transportation funding.
To address this issue, some legislators have proposed a number of possible solutions to fund the depleted transportation budget, each involving a potential tax increase. As we consider this unpleasant prospect, let me address a couple of keys points which, hopefully, can bring some clarity to this subject.
First, the state has not raised the gasoline tax since 1997. With more fuel-efficient and hybrid cars on our highways and the inflationary effect on the dollar, the funding for transportation has been and continues to be in a recessionary trend. What this translates to is that communities such as ours are getting less and less funding to do the necessary maintenance on our roads.
Second, although our roadways have been well maintained by our street department, the majority of funding required to keep them in such good repair has come from our general fund account. This fund is typically used to operate our city as well as providing and maintaining our parks, walking and biking trails, community events and other amenities. If we continue to be forced to use general fund monies to finance our roads, the city will be obligated to eliminate or scale back some of the services our residents have come to love and enjoy and which make Herriman so unique in the broader community.
Third, as a result of limited funding, we are forced to concentrate our efforts on roadways which are in dire condition and require extensive repair or replacement. Allowing our roads to fall into this state of disrepair is very expensive and not a wise use of taxpayer funding. With adequate transportation resources, we can systematically maintain all of our roads in a timely manner and, as a consequence, extend their useful life.
I recognize that the prospect of higher taxes used to fund transportation needs in our community is not a popular or inviting thought. However, the consequences of no tax increase and maintaining the status quo on transportation funding will have a dramatic impact to our community and the services we have come to welcome and enjoy.
I encourage each of you to contact your state legislators and voice your support in taking the necessary steps to increase transportation funding. Such action will help to ensure the long-term viability of our community. l