City officials propose monthly fee to fix roads in Pleasant Grove

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jun 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 00:08:46-04

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah -- In Pleasant Grove more than half of all roads are in need of repair and in order to make those repairs they are asking for financial help from their residents and businesses.

From crumbling concrete, to vegetation, to random grates and uneven cement, Pleasant Grove officials say it's going to cost $3.8 million a year, for the next 20 years, to fix all their roads.

Their current annual budget for road repair is only $1.5 million.

"The revenue generation for roads has been through a state tax, through a gas tax, and that revenue is just not enough for us to keep up with all the roads that we have," said Scott Darrington, city administrator.

The city has proposed residents and businesses pay a monthly road fee. It would be $4.90 for homeowners and $60.20 for businesses. This fee would create an extra $1 million a year.

"That seems high to me, almost five bucks a month seems like too much in addition to what we already pay," said Resident Kyle Jones.

Residents said they've already twice voted down a tax increase that would have provided a new public safety building and they don't know why would their opinion on this would be any different.

"We live in a fiscally conservative state and this is no different here in Pleasant Grove, we live in a small town, so people voted that down and this is going to be the same way, people want to know where their money is going," said resident Andrew Black.

However, business owner, Chris Cox, of Combat Kung Fu, said Pleasant Grove needs to get away from the small town mindset and think about re-energizing the economy.

"Whatever works to bring in new business is good so it doesn't seem like a bad idea to me," Cox said. "If people want nice things you have to pay to get them."

The Utah Tax Payers Association questions if what Pleasant Grove is doing is even legal.

"When you do a flat fee like this you're socializing the cost you're just charging everyone the same rate," said Vice-president Billy Hesterman.

Hesterman said cities in other states have attempted to implement similar fees and were sued.

"And in the courts in those states they've said that's illegal they said that's a tax," Hesterman said.

Pleasant Grove said Provo recently passed a similar fee and there were no repercussions so they aren't too worried.

"I know people debate what's a fee and what's a tax and we are just trying to get the roads fixed and trying to figure out the best and fairest way to do it," Darrington said.

As of now there is no time frame as to when the city council plans to vote on this road fee. They did say there will be a public hearing beforehand where everyone can express their opinions.