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  • Writer's picturePaula Smith

My Response To an Unknown Author

While I'm still determining who the original author was on the following post (I have a hunch), giving credit where credit is due is important. It's always a good practice to acknowledge the source of information or content that you share with others. This shows respect for the original creator and helps build trust and credibility with your audience. So, even if you don't know the author, taking the time to give them proper attribution can go a long way in establishing yourself as a responsible and trustworthy source of information. The content was copied and posted by another St. George council member, and I have copied it within this post.

I wanted to address the comments since they seem to be directed at me. I'm only speculating, but they used about 95% of the 2-minute speech I gave at the Chamber Candidate meeting—found here: https://www.youtube.com/live/tt45iPcTbxE?feature=share


I would have preferred the opportunity to infuse facts within 2 minutes, but it's simply impossible. During my interactions with the residents, I engaged in meaningful conversations where they sought my perspective on various matters. While it is true that I do not have all the answers or know everything, I always strive to offer helpful and fair responses that are based on my knowledge, research, and experience. What I see are some issues, I also see solutions. How can we get to the solutions? That’s a collaborative effort that can be accomplished by the City Council and listening to our residents, and initiating action.

Below is the original post; I will comment and answer within the post using BOLD font and after the word “Answer” (any other text is from the original poster--SIC).

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I recognize that people vote with feelings and not always with facts. Buzz words like lower taxes, transparency, inflated budget, and cut waste tend to generate the cheers and applause of audiences. Playing to the crowd's emotions is always a campaign tactic intent on generating votes.


ANSWER— I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected applause I received during my speech. Though I didn't anticipate such a positive response, I spoke my truth based on the extensive research on property taxes over the past decade and the budget I've studied for the past 13 months. I believe in being straightforward and honest with my thoughts and opinions.

Another speaker mentioned "adopting rules of order"—why not just use the word censorship? Just so we’re clear, doing the “business of the people” is INCLUDING the people.

LET. THEM. SPEAK.

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I am amazed that so often, when asked “what waste”, “where is the lack of transparency”, or “what part of the budget is inflated”, no specific answers are given.


ANSWER— I do provide details in person and on my website. Again…with only 2 minutes, it’s impossible to site years’ worth of research in two minutes. I’ll add some transparency examples below, which may aid in your answers.

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1. The City of St. George has the 2ND LOWEST TAX RATE IN THE STATE, as provided by the Utah State Tax Commission for 2022.


ANSWER--- This may be true for now, but not for long. The rate of spending and loss is not sustainable, and Council has already indicated they will raise taxes next year. At one time, the highest-taxed cities in all of America had lower tax rates too.

“It’s just a little bit more”

“We need to pay for this”

“you’ve already been paying for this”.

Be sure to also check out this website, which illustrates how St George rates with taxpayer spending:

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2. Only 11% of my property tax bill went to the City of St. George in 2022. Of the $1778.68 we paid last year, the City got $197.19, and it is projected by the county to decrease this year.


ANSWER-- I’m not sure what this means—"projected to decrease this year"? Will residents receive refunds for what they paid? The City has measures to ensure they collect the same amount of tax each year, so if values go down, rates increase to ensure the City receives not less than the year before. And the council has already gone on record indicating they plan to raise taxes next year---so maybe this is a smoke and mirror maneuver, like the current GO bond “you’ve already been paying it—it won’t add anything more.”

Here’s a thought…if we know today that we need to raise taxes for public safety next year, why is the GO Bond on the ballot this year not applied instead to public safety?

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3. Given that St. George has about 100,000 residents, and the general fund budget is $107,927,701, that means that the City spends about $1079 per resident to provide police, fire, public works, parks, recreation, arts, golf, and administration for us. And we pay $197 for all those services from my property taxes. THE CITY OF ST. GEORGE DOES MORE WITH LESS THAN ANY CITY YOU CAN NAME.


ANSWER: See the link for the report above for all the names.

I’d like to point out that the 2019/20 general fund budget was $77 million having 95k people. That’s $810/person.

Just curious—why did the City put $188,000 in "golf" showing “profit” when that money was COVID relief funds **And taxpayer surplus transferred from savings**? I mean, it was helpful to hide the loss, but COVID relief funds shouldn’t be a profit (unless you're trying to make it look like there was a profit). Maybe this is the "do more with less" idea? Here is a picture to aid with TRANSPARENCY. Also, here is the recording from the work meeting, where they discuss the money transferred comes from leftover Covid relief funds and taxpayer surplus. The mention is at around 2.06 timestamp where the discussion started. https://www.sgcity.org/minutes/file/?id=1KVN7Xaxb03azXTx_pR_0hTzm3QbAfuwR&file=1&type=mp3&time=01:58:01#t=01:58:01

St George City Budget 2023/2024

I’m also curious, why the city took that $211,000 from leftover funds from the expired Affordable Housing Special Revenue Fund 69, which was previously going to Switchpoint and low income, and use it for employee bonuses for mortgage rate buydowns? Does the city not currently see a need to continue assisting Switchpoint or other low-income or homelessness issues?

While I do prefer to use this money toward (the revised version) interest rate buy-down program for CITY PUBLIC SAFETY employees, is there anything in writing clarifying exactly "who" can use the funds and exactly how the funds will be allocated? Not all public safety employees will enjoy this bonus. Is there a method to select the winners? TRANSPARENCY.

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4. Thank goodness that with my approximately $2.00 per month, within that $197.00, We have been able to help build world class facilities through the 1996 Parks and Recreation Bond. These facilities, along with golf courses and much more have helped to generate the sales tax that makes up the difference between the paltry sum we pay for property tax and the large sum spent by the City to benefit me, my family and all of my neighbors.


ANSWER-- Remember the $18 million within the budget that pays for Parks and services. And the $4500 from impact fees of every home built that goes to parks. Also, the RAP tax adds over $3 million back into the system. Do you only build the facilities with your $2.00 per month? Where is all the rest of the money being spent if that's the case?


Well, let me tell you—much of it has to be applied to the loss as almost all City-run facilities lose money. If a business loses money on virtually every endeavor, one could speculate they are doing it wrong. Here are a few examples of the loss—I've taken right from the budget (to help with transparency and examples). LOSSES: Aquatic Center. Swimming Pool. Thunder Junction. Golf.

I'm not suggesting we eliminate anything, but we are doing it wrong—business 101.


Let's analyze and figure out how to stop the loss. Maybe we need private sector vendors in there leasing the spaces to serve food. Perhaps sponsors will help to offset the losses. The best solution is to get the government out of the private sector; this can be done without relinquishing all control or ownership by simply leasing.


Removing liability, payroll, and taxpayer loss is the best solution.

Here is a great time to raise my “transparency” point (again). The city mentions “all of the revenue from the sales tax generated,” but they don’t combine that data with “all of the expenses” against the revenue. They speak of the millions that events (such as IronMan) generate, but the expenses are spread throughout the budget (such as new finish line equipment, road repairs, banners, and many other expenses).

I’d like to see: Profit….EXPENSES….NET…. all on the same page or at least not scattered within the 430-page budget. Let’s look at the NET and understand precisely how much the events contribute. If you make $1,000 and then spend $1,200---that’s not profit. TRANSPARENCY.

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5. We heard a candidate say that the City has an out of control budget of $520 million dollars. "we need to cut that budget." Does this candidate realize that the City has a Water Utility, and Electric Utility, a Regional airport, and a Regional Water treatment Plant, all funded by sources other than property tax.


ANSWER--- Yes, I do realize that the City has a Water Utility, Electric Utility, a Regional Airport, and a Regional Water Treatment Plant, all funded by sources other than property tax. That is part of the 520 million dollar budget. I never suggested any of this was property tax.

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6.Related to transparency, EVERY detail of the budget can be found right here: https://www.sgcity.org/.../2023-24finaladoptedbudget.pdf.

And if I have a question, I ask, and am always given the answers.

We need City Council members who do their homework, speak the facts, and believe in and practice civil dialogue. We as a community are built on a spirit of cooperation, not divisiveness. We look after each other and work together. We recognize that there are qualified, committed, honest and integrous people working for the City for our best good. Imagine how it affects City employee morale when they hear statements from the candidates that show little or no trust in their skills, motivation, efforts, etc.


ANSWER— Tell me—when have I ever not used civil dialogue? My speech was passionate. I also believe there are great and qualified people working for the city. I believe it can be run more efficiently. I don’t think I’m alone in this, judging from the reactions I’ve received. We do not need City Council who look after each other; what we need are representatives who are focused on looking after, and working with, WE THE PEOPLE.

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Our quality of life is impacted, for good or bad by those that sit in the Council seats.


ANSWER—That is so true. Do you believe raising taxes further to squeeze out our seniors or families on fixed incomes is a good solution? Despite all the pushback, Danielle motioned to increase the property tax last year.

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If I don’t vote, then a small group of loud voices who likely don’t represent the majority of our residents, can steer our city where I don’t want it to go, and I can’t blame anyone but myself.


ANSWER- Those voices you hear are WE THE PEOPLE, and they do represent the majority.

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Please please please, VOTE, AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO VOTE.


ANSWER-- Agreed.



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