Although this site focuses primarily on Provo’s political issues, we are definitely affected by politics at all levels, including the county level. And our Utah County government, over this last year or so, has been enduring three major trends that arguably merit the scrutiny of all Provoans who value their rightful liberty.
Firstly, some politicians are currently seeking to reorganize Utah County’s government from a simple three-person commission into something more complex. Proponents of this reorganization like commissioner Nathan Ivie (who spearheaded this process) have repeatedly asserted that it will allow effective separation of our county government’s legislative and executive functions, which is very sound in principle—but others like commissioner Bill Lee have expressed deep concerns about the details of the proposals that his fellow commissioners have embraced for reorganization, which he asserts could allow both ever-higher taxes and ever-more regulations, as has become characteristic of Salt Lake County. This is a very interesting observation, considering the other two trends that we’re about to highlight.
Secondly, our current county commission (by a 2-to-1 vote) has just raised county-level property tax rates by an astounding 67%. We applaud commissioner Bill Lee, who voted firmly against this needless tax hike and is now trying to rally opposition to it, but we feel severely disappointed with his fellow commissioners Ainge and Ivie, who apparently favor us spending even more of our hard-earned money on being told what to do. This huge tax increase may render a newly-expanded county government awash in cash to spend on new responsibilities.
Thirdly, new responsibilities are currently being contemplated by Envision Utah, which is seeking to lead Utah County (as it’s already done successfully with many other parts of Utah) away from its libertarianish past of both local control and free markets toward a statist future of regional central economic planning. Since late 2018, Envision Utah has studied public opinion, devised scenarios, and evaluated options, in order to compose a common vision for Utah County’s future—a central plan that will dictate where everyone will live, what sort of homes they’ll live in, how they’ll landscape their yards, et cetera. It’s not guaranteed that a newly-reorganized Utah County government will ever arrogate such responsibilities or not—but it’s definitely more likely if we keep electing candidates like commissioner Ivie, who has already stated publicly that he welcomes a countywide central plan for economic development, partly to inhibit development from spreading into undeveloped areas. Such goals happen to be consistent with longtime socialist goals to regulate markets, reduce land ownership, and increase urbanization.
It may be more than coincidental that these three trends are occurring simultaneously. Franklin Delano Roosevelt once asserted that: “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” In any case, we would do well to monitor these ongoing trends and encourage the best possible outcomes, lest we end up living under Soviet-style central planning, whether overseen by Commissar Nathan Ivie or perhaps someone even worse. We don’t need a county government that reigns over us in all things, but one that helps us to defend our rights against others’ aggression so that we may remain free. The plans of the many, negotiated among free equals, are normally superior to the plans of the few, dictated by political masters.
As Edmund Burke once noted, “evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” So, please don’t do nothing. Instead, please shake off any apathy that impedes you, get educated and/or informed about these pressing issues, get active and organized, and help your neighbors to do likewise. And become the hero that our society needs. If our website helps, then use it. Ditto with these voluminous references below. And, if you do nothing else, then please sign commissioner Bill Lee’s Utah County Petition!
- Provo Daily Herald: “Should Utah County change its form of government? A petition has been filed that says it should” (2019 Jan 29)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Leaders kick off effort to reform Utah County government” (2019 Feb 02)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Utah County forms advisory board to look into best form of county government” (2019 Feb 12)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Utah County finalizes board to look at best form of government for Utah County” (2019 Mar 28)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Board looking for public feedback on changing Utah County’s form of government” (2019 Apr 25)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Representatives discuss pros, cons of changing Utah County government” (2019 May 16)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Board recommends Utah County government change to mayor/council form” (2019 May 24)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Board will recommend Utah County government change be on ballot in 2019” (2019 Jun 14)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Utah County should switch to mayor-council government, board says” (2019 Jun 21)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Utah County working through details of putting government change on 2019 ballot” (2019 Jun 25)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Provo council passes resolution supporting county government change hours after alternate plan filed” (2019 Jul 09)
- Provo Daily Herald: “State legislators plan to force Utah County to switch forms of government” (2019 Jul 22)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Utah County commissioners vote in hopes of invalidating county government petition” (2019 Jul 25)
- Provo Daily Herald: “What exactly is in the new Utah County government optional plan?” (2019 Aug 16)
- Utah County Good Governance Board
- Provo Daily Herald: “Utah County Commission approves 67.4% increase to county portion of property taxes” (2019 Dec 17)
- Utah County Petition
- Utah County Petition: “Save Utah County from bigger taxes and bigger government!” (2019 Dec 09)
- Defending Utah: “Who is Behind Agenda 21 in Utah?” (2019 Jan 19)
- Brookings Mountain West: “The Utah Model: Lessons for Regional Planning” (2012 Dec)
- Envision Utah
- Utah Valley Visioning
- Provo Daily Herald: “While groups fight to keep open spaces from development, county has no comprehensive plan” (2016 Dec 11)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Utah County leaders tackle impending growth with launch of Valley Visioning project” (2018 Nov 15)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Mayors’ column: Let’s work together to shape a future for Utah Valley” (2018 Dec 08)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Initial Valley Visioning results surprise some, more input wanted” (2019 Jan 05)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Second annual Utah Valley Visioning Summit emphasizes priorities” (2019 Apr 17)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Envisioning Utah County’s Future: Sustainability group, local leaders explore valley’s growth opportunities” (2019 Dec 17)
- Valley Visioning Survey
- Free Provo: Problems: Envisioning Statism
- Free Provo: Solutions
- Facebook: Free Provo