Google bought iProvo for $1. Why? Provo residents realized what they had spent $50 million for was worth millions less than $1. A $1 sale was a coup. Provo learned not to mess with private enterprise.
Provo had iProvo. Orem has UTOPIA. Orem City is preparing to borrow $300 million to $400 million more for UTOPIA. You will miss the best show in town if you miss Orem City Council meetings.
The titan ideas of subsidies vs. the titan ideas of private enterprise will fight toe to toe. We have a public microphone if you wish to speak.
Private Enterprise: My "Texan" brother displays on his bumper, "Don't Mess With Texas." The Orem City Council has failed to heed a similar message: "Don't Mess With Private Enterprise."
Is Orem City Council hostile to private enterprise? No, but they have thought they were smarter than private enterprise. They believe what Orem needs is a good government Internet service. They become angry when we private enterprisers point at their failures like UTOPIA. Philosophically, morally and economically their subsidy ideas are bankrupt. They tried to compete with private enterprise and lost.
Orem's UTOPIA Utility fee: Oct. 23, 2013, I attended a closed door meeting in SLC with council members from several cities, besides Orem. We all signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to attend. Behind closed doors we discussed the "UTOPIA utility fee." A foreign company will loan UTOPIA $300 million to $400 million. To pay back their loan we would impose a "UTOPIA utility fee" on all Orem residents. After they get their loan plus interest back we would split the profits if there are profits.
UTOPIA has accumulated huge losses: Will a $300 million to $400 million loan make UTOPIA profitable? Orem and the other UTOPIA cities loaned money to UTOPIA in 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2013. A new loan will not make UTOPIA profitable.
How big will the utopia fee be? Pro subsidy city council members don't want to discuss the utility fee. At our closed door meeting in SLC, $20 to 25 per house per month was discussed. Please go to transparencyorem.com to see my computation of $25.80 per month per house. I've shared this projected cost with my fellow council members. Actual costs will probably be $35 per month per house if we pursue the buildout. Government operations are notorious for going over budget.
Who will pay? The UTOPIA utility fee will be assessed somewhat like the iProvo utility fee: old homes, small homes, poor homes, new homes, large and wealthy homes will be assessed the same rate. The only difference is we will charge Orem residents five to seven times more than the iProvo utility fee. As in Provo, every home, whether you sign up for UTOPIA or not will be assessed the UTOPIA utility fee.
Do you like a property tax hike or a UTOPIA utility fee hike the best? Orem voters rejected a UTOPIA property tax in November. Two weeks earlier I sat in an NDA meeting in SLC with other Orem City Council members. We discussed how to impose the UTOPIA utility fee on you. We were told that if we City Council members voted for the UTOPIA utility fee we would not have to ask our city residents to vote on it.
OREM politicians and UTOPIA: Politicians hide things from voters. In 2011 they hid from you a property tax for UTOPIA. In 2013 they hid from you a utility fee for UTOPIA. From 2002 through 2013 the Orem City Council has voted for UTOPIA. Except for my one voice of dissent the pro-subsidy votes for UTOPIA have been unanimous.
What should you do? Orem has a new mayor and two new council members who have not yet fallen under the spell of UTOPIA. They have not yet attended closed door meetings on how wonderful subsidies are. Contact us with your thoughts on government subsidies:
Mayor Richard Brunst: firstname.lastname@example.org, (801) 319-4603
Council member Tom Macdonald: email@example.com, (801) 318-3010
Council member Dave Spencer: firstname.lastname@example.org, (801) 226-3851
Council member Brent Sumner: email@example.com
Council member Margaret Black: firstname.lastname@example.org, (801) 224-3602
Council member Mark Seastrand: email@example.com, (801) 226-0680
Council member Hans Andersen: firstname.lastname@example.org, (801) 225-0396
The University Mall Subsidy: The University Mall wants a new subsidy. The Orem City Council has given the mall more than $16 million in subsidies. The Orem City Council should not choose winners and losers with your tax money. Every business should pay their share of our city streets, police and fire services. Subsidies hurt free enterprise and unfairly burden those businesses who do pay taxes.
The Woodbury mall gave UVU $20 million. The UVU Business School is now named "The Woodbury School of Business." My enthusiasm for their charity is dampened a little when I realize $16 million of that $20 million was Orem subsidies (your tax dollars) given the Woodburys by the Orem City Council. The Woodbury lobbyist should stay home this year and send Orem City $20 million. We have a city hall we can put their name on.
Selected Orem city statistics: The Orem City Council has increased the debt of Orem City 430 percent during the last 15 years. Orem City population has grown 6 percent during the last 15 years. Orem built eight new parks the last 10 years. Orem has more than $50 million in debt for UTOPIA. Orem has a great library. It costs more than $5 million a year to run. For each family that amounts to more than $185 per year.
Conclusion: Orem revenues are rising. Orem City has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. The new Orem City Council should put first things first: Police, fire, streets, sewer and water. Encourage the Orem City Council to follow the counsel of world renowned economists who have encouraged us to get out of debt and stay out of debt. Visit transparencyorem.com for more information.
• Hans V. Andersen Jr. is a member of the Orem City Council.