HIGHLAND -- Highland residents might someday be able to pay their utility bills in gold or silver. At least that's what Councilman Tim Irwin would like to see happen.
The Highland City Council will vote on two resolutions Tuesday that would give Highland's support to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's policies on public land and the use of gold and silver as legal tender. Irwin drafted both.
"The point is to give support to the governor to bring back sovereignty to Utah," Irwin said. "I'm getting active and concerned with the overreach of the federal government, and I'm doing my part in Highland to protect our freedoms for our grandkids."
He worked together with the Utah Precious Metals Association and Utah Lands Association to craft the resolutions for Highland.
In 2011 and 2012, Herbert signed the Legal Tender Act of 2011 and the Transfer of Public Lands Act, saying he wanted to bring more control back into the hands of Utahns. Herbert has faced opposition from groups both in and out of Utah for these bills.
The Legal Tender Act allows Utahns to use gold and silver made by the U.S Mint to pay for goods or debts. Opponents of the bill claim the idea has flaws, considering that a $1 American Silver Eagle coin is actually worth around $32 in bullion value. But proponents of the law applaud the elimination of state capital gains tax on the sale of gold and silver and say it's an important step in strengthening the dollar and creating choice for consumers.
"A lot of people are buying gold and silver, but don't know what to do with it," Irwin said. "It's not required, just a choice. And I think it's a good one."
Irwin claimed that proceeds of gold and silver coin minting were once used to pay off the national debt, and if coin usage were encouraged, it could serve as part of a possible debt solution. He hopes Highland's formal support would help the state move ahead in implementing the law's intended purpose -- to create a federally insured depository that would allow individuals to use the worth of the metals more freely. He envisions that if things go well, Highland might follow up with its own ordinance that would allow residents to pay their utility bills with gold and silver.
Irwin also wants to voice Highland's support of the Public Lands Act. There are close to 28 million acres of federally controlled land in Utah, which is about 50 percent of the state, and Herbert wants those lands to be managed by the state. The bill he signed in March demands that those lands be turned back over to Utah by 2014.
"Private land ownership has been the cornerstone for freedom in this country and economic opportunity," Herbert said during the signing ceremony. "Federal control of our land has put us at a distinct disadvantage compared to other states."
Irwin encouraged anyone with an opinion on the resolutions to attend the council meeting.
"I think, frankly, that the open meeting laws are appropriate," he said. "These things should be done in the public view."
If passed, the resolutions would then be made into record and sent to the governor and state legislators showing Highland's formal support.