Interlocal agencies, independent entities, special service districts, Associations of Governments (AOG), and conservancy districts—each of these is a type of government-sponsored or -created organization given control of some aspect of administration, localized policy making, or government service. In short, they have control over a portion of your tax dollars and/or your life.
Who are these mysterious organizations that, up until recently, have hidden their operations in the shadows? To be clear, they hold some public meetings, report to the Utah Legislature periodically, and probably even have up-to-date websites. However, they probably would rather you not know about the size of their budgets, nor their too frequent misappropriation of funds.
The average Utahn might recognize these government organizations from the media attention they have received over the past few years:
This bill passed the House 59-12 and passed the Senate 24-2.
Libertas Institute supports this bill.
Under current law, a person who boards a bus with a firearm—except for law enforcement officials and concealed weapon permit holders—is guilty of a third degree felony.
House Bill 67, sponsored by Representative Norm Thurston, would eliminate this penalty enhancement, thereby reducing the action to a misdemeanor; a person illegally concealing a weapon should not be treated differently criminally merely for stepping onto a bus.
The same proposal passed the House unanimously last year, but did not receive a vote in the Senate before the legislature adjourned.
In addition to seeking an increase in the sales tax to help improve its services, the Utah Transit Authority has doubled the amount of bonuses awarded to its managers since last year.
A total of $1.74 million in bonuses was awarded to 389 employees, for an average of $4,473. Of course, most bonuses fell below that average, because many others were substantially higher: $30,000 to the General Manager, General Counsel, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Communications Officer, Chief Capital Development Officer, Chief Safety Officer, and the Chief Planning Officer. Three other managers received bonuses higher than $20,000, and another 21 were awarded bonuses higher than $10,000. All of this is on top of high base salaries.
The Salt Lake Tribune‘s editorial on this issue focused primarily on the public relations problem that such bonuses has generated. But the problem here is fundamental, not superficial. Throwing so much cash at the upper echelons of a bureaucracy is objectionable not only because it’s allegedly excessive or generates bad press—it’s bad because it’s our money.