Press Releases

Libertas Institute Announces Lawsuit Against Pleasant Grove

Restraining Order Sought Against Illegal and Unconstitutional Transportation Utility Fee Imposed on Residents

Salt Lake City, UT (August 2, 2018) — Pleasant Grove was sued today by residents and business owners in the city, in a lawsuit brought by Libertas Institute.

The lawsuit seeks judicial intervention against the City Council’s passage of a new fee to fund road improvements. Libertas Institute maintains that such a fee is illegal based on Utah’s Constitution, state statute, and court opinions regarding how taxes and fees must be established.

“Pleasant Grove commissioned a study to try and determine how to do this, yet the Council has abandoned every recommendation in the study in their effort to enact this new fee,” said Connor Boyack, president of Libertas Institute. “The courts have established clear criteria to determine if a fee is justified—based primarily on whether the cost helps offset a service provided directly to the payer—yet Pleasant Grove’s plan completely violates these criteria.”

Courts in several other states have overturned similar transportation utility fees, recognizing what today’s lawsuit argues: because the government cannot quantify exactly who uses the roads how often and how much, general taxation must fund their construction and maintenance.

“While Pleasant Grove has several options to go directly to voters to seek a tax increase to fund these roads, the city has chosen an underhanded method to take more money from residents without going through the established political process to increase taxes,” Boyack said. “If city residents agree that taxes should be raised, fine—just do it the right way. That’s what today’s lawsuit demands.”

The lawsuit seeks various remedies, including a refund of money taken from residents, and a declaration that the fee is illegal and must be discontinued.

To access the Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, click here.

  • This is great! Caught ’em in the act.

  • Dave Charbonneau

    Right on. I clicked over b/c I thought this might be about the illegal use of “stealth” marking on police units (did you know that drivers of such vehicles are personally responsible for each violation?).

    Good to know about this, too! Thanks, gals ‘n guys at Libertas.

  • Concerned PG Resident

    Won’t suing Pleasant Grove just cause tax payers to have to basically pay for the legal fees that will be incurred through this action and just put our road situation in a worse state? Can an initiative be made to rescind the fee instead so that the pleasant grove tax payers won’t just end up paying for a lawsuit? It seems like this might hurt the city and taxpayers more than help them, at least the ones in PG.

    • conservativeandproud

      Sometimes it is necessary to pay a price to preserve our liberty and freedom. We, as Americans, have become so lazy and so complacent, that we are unwilling to do anything. Our monies and toys are more important to us than our liberties and freedoms.

    • What we have here is corrupt politicians who lack character, honor and any leadership abilities. If the PG officials feel strongly enough that they need additional funding for roads, then let them take that and sell it to the people, then pass a tax increase (that would be leadership). These officials fear that their political careers might be hindered by anti-tax sentiment from the people, that the people don’t agree with them on the need to increase taxes. If what they fear is true, that there is little support for raising taxes for roads, then they need to accept the will of the people, sit down and shutup.

      Instead, they surrupticiously tack additional fees (taxes) on your utility bill to fund roads. The government is selling the city residents “utilities” and then applying that money to “roads”, otherwise known as fraud. As Mayor of Provo, John Curtis pulled the same kind of stunt, adding fees to residents’ utility bills (ostensibly to cover the rising costs of power), but then siphoned those public funds off for his big road project, the one that the people had previously voted against funding in a referendum.

      Road projects have always been a big favorite of politicians. With millions of dollars in contracts to dole out to their cronies, politicians have new found increases in power, usually a fattened campaign chest, and they can technically claim not to have raised taxes. All of this to assure their reelection, or election to higher office. If corrupt officials are not stopped in their tracks, they generally go on to bigger and better scams under which the people continue to suffer. Libertas and the people of PG are doing everyone a great service to put a stop to this corruption.

    • Scott

      Maybe the city council should be ethical and then no one would have to sue anybody.

  • conservativeandproud

    It is about time someone begins to stand up against unreasonable actions by an unrepresentative government. God bless you for your efforts for liberty and freedom.

  • Nathan Hale

    Shining light of truth through constitutional principle! Thank you. Being that the council members are working for this private company/ corp “pleasant grove” they would be more receptive if action were brought against them individually in personal capacity. That way they each need pay for counsel in private capacity. This will help them see the light earlier..

    • That is one of the biggest problems the people face today: those elected or appointed to office often feel they can do what they want despite tremendous opposition from the people. One reason for this is that these officials are defended in any action against the government and in most cases, the government pays attorney fees and any judgment against their actions is also paid by government (by the hard-earned money paid in taxes to the government). If government and any of its officials impose any tyranny and are caught in the act, the people pay the damages. These officials take no responsibility for bad acts and they do escape with impunity.

      Over 95% of potential plaintiffs who have been damaged by the government are not allowed to sue the government or its officials as they have immunity according to the law. This would not be as big a problem as it is today, if our officials had some character and a sense of honor. But goverrnment overreach, trampling the rights of American citizens, is rampant today. It’s possible that forcing these irresponsible officials to shoulder some responsibility for their actions in terms of personal liability, of at least a portion of any damages, lose their job, forfeit their retirement benefits and 401k plan, and being ordered to perform community service. Maybe then, they’d think twice before forcing their pet boondoggles down the people’s throats.

  • traxxass

    What about our pressurized irrigation system fees that are way more than our culinary water charges, and are charged to us all year long when we can only use the water 6 months out of the year? This comprises over 20% of our city bill, and some residents only use a little water out of this system, the current billing practice is force on us even though we don’t use it. The minimum $30 a month/ $360 a year is pretty exorbitant to be billed for something that is only available 6 months out of the year compared to my culinary bill which runs less than half that for 365 day usage.

  • Glenn Ellis

    I have friends and family all for the fee. How do you help them understand the consequences of allowing the government to do this?

    The government should not force a tax through fees on a utility bill. If they allow this, it will only be a matter of time before other cities start doing the same.

    I get concerned with the lack of understanding some have and the importance of individual rights which is slowly being taken away.