Biting the Subsidizing Hand

A local example of the negative effect of subsidies is playing out right now. Lehi citizens have been paying taxes to support services that benefit people in Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain. The result is that the people in those cities are unaware of the real costs of the services that many of them take for granted in Lehi. It sounds like they are about to find out what those costs really are.

Saratoga Springs’s commitment to a proposed freeway through Lehi appears to have cost its residents access to Lehi community programs.

Call it retaliation or tough love, Lehi is moving to make it expensive and harder for Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs residents to join community programs, or even be buried, in Lehi.

Lehi Councilman Johnny Barnes gave a letter to Lehi Council members on Tuesday asking that beginning Jan. 1, participation in all community programs “be restricted to Lehi citizens first.”

Residents from nearby communities may be invited to participate if there is space, but “the costs to those participants will reflect the actual cost of the programs,” said Barnes.

Council members instructed staff to begin figuring new fees and participation rules for the council to consider.

Councilman Stephen Holbrook said the day has come for Lehi to make recreation fees for nonresidents “extremely higher, so our citizens can have first choice” and that increase should extend not only to sports programs but library use, senior citizen programs, park rentals, the literacy center, and burial fees.

“Two weeks ago in a pre-council meeting there were comments made concerning a letter sent out by Mayor Tim Parker of Saratoga Springs indicating their strong support of UDOT’s (freeway) plan for 2100 North,” Barnes wrote in his letter to council members. “I stated that in my opinion, this was a clear demonstration of Saratoga coming of age as a city, and felt that if they want to be a city, they need to act like a city.

“In making this statement, I hold firmly to the opinion that along with having the right to take a strong aggressive position comes the right and obligation to provide services to their citizens. This would include all services, not just the ones that are convenient to them or are able to be funded.”

How did this all come about?

Well Lehi has been very accommodating of the burgeoning cities to the west and now that because of that our city council is very aware of the costs of the services that they are virtually giving away. Though this act may be seen as retaliation by some, it makes sense that we should not be too concerned about the costs of restricting access to our programs for people who are apparently uninterested in the costs we will suffer as a result of their preferred freeway.

It’s all a matter of perspective but Saratoga Springs does not appear to care about the Lehi perspective on this project. I recognize that there are aspects of the Mountain View Corridor project that Saratoga would have a perspective that would be lacking in Lehi, but if those cities want to leech off of the programs that have matured here in Lehi then they should be willing to work with us.

The mayor of Saratoga could not be ignorant of Lehi’s vocal concern over the 2100 North alignment preferred by UDOT. If he cared about them then he should have made a better case for why Lehi’s 4800 North proposal was inferior. Everything I have seen suggests that 2100 North is marginally better for anyone who is just passing through Lehi than the plan proposed by Lehi, but it is substantially worse for residents of Lehi.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.

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