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'Independents' Week' honors buy-local businesses

OGDEN — As part of the “buy local” movement in Utah, a number of Weber County mayors have issued proclamations declaring July 1-7 as “Independents Week” in their cities. “Independents Week” honors the entrepreneurial spirit of local business owners and the impact they have on our communities and economies. The annual celebration is organized by Local First Utah, and is held in conjunction with other independent business alliances across the nation. Mayor Mike Caldwell of Ogden signed the proclamation for the third year running, recognizing the “buy local” movement in Ogden. Mayor Brent Taylor of North Ogden, Mayor Toby Mileski of Pleasant View and Mayor Mark Allen of Washington Terrace all signed as well, indicating the second straight year that their communities have celebrated Independents Week. They join with Gov. Gary Herbert and the mayors of more than 30 other Utah cities in recognizing the value and vitality of locally owned, independent businesses to their cities. “As we celebrate ‘Independents Week,’ much more than the economic impact of locally owned businesses is recognized.” said Local First Utah Executive Director Kristen Lavelett. “More and more, people are recognizing that independent businesses add to the character of Utah, our economic well-being, and keep the American Dream alive.” For every $100 spent in a national retailer only $13.60 stays in the Utah economy, the group says. But, on average, for every $100 spent in a locally owned business, $55.40 stays in the Utah economy. Locally owned businesses — by doing more business with other locals — keep money circulating through the local economy. “The simple act of buying from a locally owned business is an opportunity for citizens to vote with their dollars.” said Lavelett. “It’s an ordinary action with an extraordinary impact.” For more information regarding “Independents Week” visit www.localfirst.org/independents. Local First Utah is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to empower a movement to recognize the value and vitality of locally owned, independent businesses. Local First Utah business partnerships are open to all Utah businesses that are at least 51 percent locally owned and make their business decisions independently. Business partner registration is free.

Smith's Marketplace groundbreaking

Smith's breaks ground in West Point

WEST POINT — About $528,000 in new revenue annually will flow into West Point City coffers as a result of the new Smith’s Marketplace development. In addition, the store and surrounding commercial development will bring about 300 new jobs to the area, according to officials. Smith’s Food & Drug will construct a new Smith’s Marketplace store at 2000 W. 300 North in West Point. This marks the first commercial retail center to be built in the city, according to Smith’s Food & Drug officials. [gmap=41.117496, -112.065300] “This new development in West Point City shows the cities dedication to its residents and the value in public/private partnerships,” Davis County Community and Economic Development Director Marlin Eldred said. “Residents will be able to shop at a Smith’s Market Place in their community and help stop the sales tax leakage going to other communities. This development will be the catalyst for more retail and job base growth for West Point City,” Eldred said. In addition to bringing sales tax revenues, the development will also add a number of jobs to the community. “You cannot underestimate the 300 jobs (the project will bring),” said Gary Wright of The Wright Development Group, the developer of the project. “This city needs this,” said Wright, one of many involved in the project who attended the Tuesday groundbreaking ceremony that featured hard hats and refreshments. Smith’s Marketplace will anchor the first phase of the 19.4 acre commercial development named “The Point” and paves the way for the development of additional commercial pads, according to a joint press release issued by Smith’s. The new 124,000 square foot multi-department store will offer grocery, pharmacy and general merchandise. A new Smith’s fuel station will be added adjacent to the store, with the project having an anticipated completion date of mid 2016. The development is located on the southwest corner of 2000 W. 300 North. It will have over 150,000 square feet of commercial space anchored by the 123,494 square-foot Smith’s Marketplace, Wright said. The Wright Development Group will develop an additional 27,000 square feet of retail space, including mid-box tenants, retail shops, banks, credit unions, restaurants, and other commercial users, he said. “This ground breaking marks a milestone for West Point City in its economic development efforts,” West Point Mayor Erik Craythorne said. “We anxiously anticipate the store’s construction so that our residents will have a wonderful shopping destination within their own city limits” “I’ve been on the planning commission for nine years. Seeing the ground breaking on the Smith’s Marketplace today was a thrill,” West Point City Council John L. Detamore said. “We’ve worked on this development for several months,” Detamore said, who is excited for the growth and progress of the city. Wadman Construction, headquartered in Ogden has been named the general contractor. At the time of completion, this will be the eighth Smith’s to be located in Davis County. West Point is a rural community of 10,000 residents situated 30 minutes north of Salt Lake City, along the shore of the Great Salt Lake. For more information visit: www.westpointcity.org Smith’s is a division of the Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR), one of the nation’s largest retail grocers and currently operates 39 stores and 50 fuel centers in Utah. www.smithsfoodanddrug.com Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or bsaxton@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.  

Drilling Chaco Canyon

Archaeologists: Protect NM canyon from drilling

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Tucked away among northwestern New Mexico's sandstone cliffs and buttes are the remnants of an ancient civilization whose monumental architecture and cultural influences have been a source of mystery for years. Scholars and curious visitors have spent more than a century trying to unravel those mysteries and more work needs to be done. That's why nearly 30 top archaeologists from universities and organizations around the nation called on the U.S. Interior Department on Tuesday to protect the area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park from oil and gas development. In a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, they talked about the countless hours they've spent in the field, the dozens of books they've published about the Chaco society and their decades of collective experience studying its connection to modern Native American tribes in the Southwest. They call Chaco a distinct resource. "Many of the features associated with this landscape — the communications and road systems that once linked the canyon to great house sites located as far away as southeast Utah and which are still being identified to this day — have been damaged by the construction of oil and gas roads, pipelines and well pads," the archaeologists said. [image=Drilling Chaco Canyon2] They're pushing for the agency to consider a master leasing plan that would take into account cultural resources beyond the boundaries of the national park. They're also looking for more coordination between federal land managers, tribes and archaeologists. The Bureau of Land Management is revamping its resource management plan for the San Juan Basin and all new leasing within a 10-mile radius of Chaco park has been deferred until the plan is updated, likely in 2016. Wally Drangmeister, a spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said the BLM's existing plan already takes into account cultural resources. He said there has been a push by environmentalists to tie Chaco to development in the Mancos shale more than 10 miles from the park. Environmentalists have been calling for protections for the greater Chaco area, and Drangmeister said that expansive definition could put the whole San Juan Basin off limits. The basin is one of the largest natural gas fields in the U.S. and has been in production for more than 60 years. More development is expected in some areas since technology is making it easier for energy companies to tap the region's oil resources. Some archaeologists have theorized that Chaco's influence spread far and wide from its remote desert location. A World Heritage site, Chaco includes a series of great houses, or massive multistory stone buildings, some of which were oriented to solar and lunar directions and offered lines of sight between buildings to allow for communication. Steve Lekson, a professor and curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, has spent years studying Chaco and its influence over the Southwest. He likened the process to learning how to play baseball after discovering home base and the pitcher's mound. "You keep poking around and find more bases and the warning tracks and all that stuff. You need the whole picture to understand how the game is played," he said. "Of course, Chaco being a political system or major regional system is much more complicated than baseball. You need enough of the package intact so you can actually understand the structure of the thing." Lekson and others said the hope that there's more to be discovered doesn't mean energy development should come to a halt. "I don't think anybody is saying that, but we need to pay a lot of attention to how that's done and be cognizant of the larger issue," he said. "It shouldn't be a site-by-site thing." The archaeologists' letter comes on the heels of a tour of the Chaco area by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, and Interior Deputy Secretary Mike Connor. The two met with land managers and others after the tour. Connor said there are Navajo allottees who want to develop their resources and other Native Americans who want to protect those resources. "It's a balancing act throughout all of BLM's lands and I think Chaco is particularly unique," he said. "The more I learn about it, the more I was struck by the more we all have to learn."

Secondary BS 051915 SLC Protest 04-11

Water concerns propel protests against tar sands mine

SALT LAKE CITY — Opponents of Utah’s first tar sands mine called on state officials Tuesday to withhold approvals for the project because new evidence shows water in the area will be negatively impacted. U.S. Oil Sands, the Canadian company building the mine, pushed back against that premise at a public hearing in Salt Lake City. Attorney John Davis said the company has already proven there aren’t measurable quantities of water in the area and that the mine will have minimal effect. The hearing was scheduled after the state received dozens of opposition letters to a decision this spring to grant tentative approval for a larger footprint for the mine. The project in eastern Utah that has become another battle point in the western tug-of-war between proponents of allowing development on open land and those who believe the wide open expanses should be preserved. U.S. Oil Sands has invested nearly $100 million in the project in the last decade and is expected to begin extracting oil later this year. The company’s latest request asks the state to give it permission to be allowed to dig mining pits on a wider swath of land near the Book Cliffs on the border of Uintah County more than 200 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Tar sands mines extract oil from minerals in the earth, a process that costs more than pumping liquid oil. John Baza, director the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, said he’ll take into consideration everything he heard before making a final decision on the permit in the next 10 days. [gmap=39.221218, -109.397757] Living Rivers, an environmental protection organization, brought University of Utah professor of geology William P. Johnson to speak about his study that concluded the mine’s tailings and leftover solvent could seep into water springs in adjacent canyons. Johnson accused regulators of being biased and relying on faulty data to make decisions. He said using data from drill holes dug by the company eight years ago should not be used to make a decision. “To use that as the evidence of a lack of impact for hydraulic system is the same is looking out at the sky today and saying it’s impossible for water to come from the sky,” Johnson said. “I find that infuriating as a scientist.” Steve Alder, an attorney for the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, said the agency is not biased and is not relying solely on the dig holes that Johnson mentioned. His agency made the recommendation to approve the permit. Barclay Cuthbert, vice president of operations for U.S. Oil Sands, said it has gone beyond what is required to show the mine will have a minimal effect on the environment. He said opponents of development always ask the companies are absolutely sure there’s no downside. “That’s an almost an infinite requirement,” Cuthbert said. “To find a way to satisfy every person’s concern is almost impossible.” The staunch opposition from some to the mine was on display Tuesday. Protesters held a news conference before the hearing that featured a skit starring two small children wearing horned frog hats who fought back against a bulldozer. At the end of the hearing, a parade of people spoke about their concerns with the project. Tory Hill of Grand County said the area near the mine is like the Serengeti of the West with beaver, elk and deer. She implored regulators to forbid a foreign company from destroying the area, so future generations can hunt, fish and play. Rob Dubuc, an attorney representing Living Rivers, asked the board to mandate future water monitoring of the area. That’s something the state’s hydrologist suggested, but didn’t mandate, in a report. Baza said that’s one of many things he’ll take under advisement. “I don’t want you to feel like my mind is made up,” Baza said. “There are things that have been said here today that have touched me.”

National Business

Greece Bailout-6

What Greece's debt crisis means for average investors

Greece caught many investors off guard this weekend. It closed its banks for the week, it announced a referendum that could dictate its future in the euro zone and it may be nearing default. That caused global and U.S. stock markets to plunge. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dove 2.1 percent, its biggest drop this year. What’s happening in Greece is complicated, and how it will play out isn’t clear, leaving amateur investors with plenty of questions. Here are a few. Q: How much will my investments be affected by what’s happening in Greece? A: Analysts agree that the U.S. is more insulated from turmoil in Europe than most other countries. The U.S. doesn’t depend on international trade as much as many others do, and the U.S. economy has been improving in key measures such as employment. Even though markets and economies around the world are closely connected, investors see the U.S. as a relatively safe place to invest, said Sameer Samana, a senior strategist at Wells Fargo. Many American companies have tried to become less dependent on Europe, he said. That’s helped buoy U.S. markets this year, even as the posted losses Monday. Effectively, that means investors are betting that the U.S. economy is strong and that it won’t be hit too hard by Greece’s ripple effects, said Joseph Quinlan, head of market strategy at U.S. Trust. Q: Should I be worried as a long-term investor? A: Probably not. Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial, urges investors in the market for the long haul to look past Greece’s woes. “This too shall pass,” she said. Still, it is a good chance to take a look at your portfolio, Samana said — to rethink how much risk you’re willing to take on and to make sure your investments match that. It’s also a reminder that getting into international markets can be a risky endeavor, said Julian Emanuel, a strategist at UBS. Emanuel said he’s advising his clients to be ready to make the most of the market jitters, too. Investors should be financially and mentally prepared to make moves when the market retreats, he said. Q: What if I’m only in the market for the short term? A: Investors who need to cash out soon — to buy a home or send a child to college, for example — should have most of their portfolios in low-risk investments already, so hopefully the market’s fluctuations won’t have much of an impact anyway. Monday’s downturn, which cut across industries, shows that a jittery market can take a wide range of stocks with it. A short-term investor’s portfolio should be well-diversified and heavy on fixed-income investments such as bonds. They represented the few specks of light amid the selloff: U.S. Treasuries, gold and utilities stocks. Q: Are there any upsides? A: Monday’s slide saw declines across sectors, but analysts say industries that focus on a U.S. market should be relatively safe — and some safe companies may be getting caught up in a broad selloff. They point to companies that do well when American consumers have money to spend and others that have been doing well recently and aren’t affected much by Greece, such as health care and technology. Some European markets might have appealing bargains, too, Samana said. German exporters, for example, could benefit from a weaker euro, and the U.K. could also get caught up in fears about Europe’s economy, leading to overselling. No investment is a sure bet, but Samana said investors should ask, “Since nobody’s insulated, where is there indiscriminate selling?”

WSU provost appointed to study economic inequality

OGDEN – The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) appointed Weber State University’s Provost Michael Vaughan to study economic inequality and its effects on democracy. Across the country the AASCU accepts 31 institutions. WSU is the only Utah school represented on the AASCU council and one of only four organizations in the western United States. Vaughan feels the appointment couldn’t have come at a better time. “I had already decided to go back to faculty, then I saw this national initiative. I thought that’s something I would be interested in,” Vaughan said. He feels the national initiative to study economic inequality’s primary objective “is to increase knowledge and understand about the issue among college students.” There are six other faculty members at WSU who will work on disseminating information on economic inequality. Vaughan will teach a new course starting fall semester on economic inequality in the United States. The team at Weber State plans to work on educational videos to promote and disseminate information on the topic. “We plan to put it on YouTube for anyone to use,” Vaughan said. The national initiative has already produced one video found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM. The video covers the results from a Harvard Business professor’s survey of 5,000 Americans. The results compared the perception of distribution of wealth in the United States to what Americans feel the ideal distribution should be. Finally it contrasted both perceptions to the reality of wealth distribution. The survey showed 92 percent of people believe wealth distribution should be more equitable. In fact, the “ideal” distribution suggested the top 20 percent only receiving roughly 10 to 20 times as much as the bottom 20 percent. The actual distribution of wealth, however, shows the top one percent have more of the wealth than what 92 percent of Americans feel the top 20 percent should have. The video also states the top one percent of the wealth distribution makes 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. In 2009 the wealth in the United States totaled $54 trillion, which means the top one percent of the nation made over $21.5 trillion. The video concludes by explaining that a CEO makes 380 times more than their average worker’s salary. Weber plans to create a video of their own. Vaughan plans to create a 10 to 15 minute, factual video showing statistics and charts on wealth distribution. The team will complete the video in time for fall semester. Vaughan hopes he can contribute to the effort by focusing on different misconceptions on the topic. “It’s important because there is a great deal of misunderstanding on the issue,” Vaughan said. “There’s a discrepancy between people’s thoughts and the reality (on wealth distribution).” The AASCU initiative has a three-year time frame to focus on informing university students, their primary audience, on economic inequality in the United States. “Their belief is if they set a time frame too long, people start postponing things,” Vaughan said. He hopes, however, the project will be long term. Vaughan does expect to collect “primary data” as a part of his contribution to the initiative. “I know where the existing gaps (in economic inequality data) are, but I’m not prepared to say, ‘We’re going to undertake that project,’” he said. All 31 of the national selections have been made. The AASCU initiative started collecting data and distributing information in January 2015.

Papa John's spending $100 million a year to clean up menu

Papa John’s International Inc. is spending $100 million a year to eliminate artificial ingredients and other additives from its menu, underscoring the cost of the restaurant industry’s shift to more natural foods. The company removed monosodium glutamate, or MSG, from its ranch dressing last year and pulled trans fats from its garlic sauce. Now Papa John’s has homed in on a list of 14 ingredients, including corn syrup, artificial colors and various preservatives, that will be banished by the end of 2016. The ingredients are mostly in the chain’s dipping sauces, which some customers use for pizza, and other items like chicken poppers. After high-profile moves by Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Panera Bread Co. to purify their menus, restaurant chains are under pressure to go all-natural — and make sure consumers notice. Papa John’s started posting its ingredients online this year, shining a spotlight on its food. But the push to remove artificial ingredients comes at a cost. In addition to the $100 million in added expenses each year — the result of using higher-priced natural ingredients — the shift has affected the taste of some items, said John Schnatter, the company’s founder and chief executive officer. “It’s hard to remove some of these things and still get the flavor and functionality you want,” said Schnatter, the “Papa” in the company’s name. “We gave up flavor on the ranch dressing because I wanted to get the chemical out.” Papa John’s latest push on menu transparency started after a food blogger criticized the chain’s ingredients in 2013. To track its progress, the company created an internal color-coded “Clean Label Scorecard” that compares it to Chipotle and Panera, two chains seen as standard-bearers for the natural-food push. Panera has spent the last year removing artificial additives from its food and reformulating its salad dressings. Chipotle, meanwhile, has eliminated genetically modified organisms from its ingredients. It also debuted a marketing campaign that touts its use of simple, unprocessed ingredients. Larger fast-food chains are getting into the act as well. Taco Bell said last month it would eliminate unnatural ingredients, and McDonald’s has pledged to stop serving chicken raised with some antibiotics. Papa John’s is the third-largest pizza chain in the United States by sales, trailing Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza. Pizza Hut, owned by Yum Brands Inc., said last month it would remove artificial colors and flavors from its “nationally available” pizzas by the end of July. The chain previously eliminated trans fats and MSG. The movement has spread to the packaged-food industry too. General Mills said on Monday that it was removing artificial flavors and colors from its full lineup of breakfast cereals. Schnatter said his effort to clean up Papa John’s menu has nothing to do with moves by competitors. It all started back in 1996 after he visited a factory in Kansas and didn’t like how the sausage was being made, he said. Over the years, Schnatter made changes like removing fillers from the meat used for toppings and improving the pizza dough. The company also previously pulled cellulose, an anti- caking agent, from its mozzarella cheese. Each adjustment has boosted food expenses, he said. It costs more than $2 million just to serve pepperoni free of the preservatives BHA and BHT, Schnatter said. Papa John’s, which has more than 4,600 restaurants worldwide, has long marketed its menu under the tag line “better ingredients, better pizza.” Its pizza is generally more expensive than the other major chains, according to Michael Halen, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “Customers already give Papa John’s credit for quality ingredients, as shown by their willingness to pay a dollar or two more for their pizzas,” Halen said. Still, the bet on natural ingredients may not be a “game changer” the way the switch to digital ordering was, he said. Ten of the ingredients marked for elimination at Papa John’s will be gone by the end of this year, with the final four following by the end of 2016, the company said. That will put the chain in a position that’s hard for competitors to match, Schnatter said. “Everybody wants Papa John’s quality, but they don’t want to take the time or spend the money to do it,” he said. “They’re going to have to spend a bunch of money to get where we’re at. And if they don’t, we’ll let the customers make the decisions.”

Taxes

Understanding the basis of rental property

When you change property held for personal use to rental use (for example, you rent your former home), the basis for depreciation will be the lesser of fair market value or adjusted basis on the date of conversion. The fair market value is considered the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all the relevant facts. Sales of similar property, on or about the same date, may be helpful in figuring the fair market value of the property. The adjusted basis is considered the amount paid for the home and any permanent improvements made to the home. The rule is the “lesser” of the two choices. One error that is often made by taxpayers owning rental property is the misconception that depreciating the home is an option. Taxpayers may think that to avoid recapturing the depreciation when selling the home they will not depreciate the home during the time it is rented. However, this is not true. You must begin depreciating rental property when it is placed in service and you stop depreciating the property when it is no longer used as rental property or you have depreciated the cost of the property. When the property is no longer used as a rental, the depreciation taken in prior years must be recaptured on the tax return for the year it stopped being used as a rental. Another area that is often misunderstood is that just as a business must have a profit 3 out of 5 years, rental property must also make a profit for 3 out of 5 years. If the property does not show a profit, the rental activity is considered “not-for-profit” rental income. This income must be reported on line 21 of the tax return and the expenses taken on Schedule A. You may choose to postpone the decision of whether the rental is for profit by filing Form 5213. You must file Form 5213 within three years after the due date of your return (determined without extensions) for the year in which you first carried on the activity or, if earlier, within 60 days after receiving written notice from the Internal Revenue Service proposing to disallow deductions attributable to the activity. Rental property can benefit taxpayers in a number of ways. Initially, there may be a loss when beginning to rent the property. This helps the taxpayer reduce other taxable income. However, there are income thresholds that may hinder the taxpayer from taking the loss and thereby carrying the losses to future returns. If a taxpayer’s income is under $100,000 (MFJ) a loss of up to $25,000 on rental property activity can be taken on the tax return. However, as the taxpayer’s income goes above the $100,000 the cap of $25,000 is reduced by $1 for every $2 above the $100,000 threshold. Rental losses are considered passive losses and these losses stop when a taxpayer’s income is $150,000 or more. All passive losses are carried forward to future tax years. Rental property also benefits a taxpayer by providing additional income from the rental activities. A taxpayer should remember that this additional income is taxable and could increase the tax liability on the tax return. Estimated payments to the IRS may be necessary to avoid owing taxes at the time of filing the tax return. Tracy Bunner is an enrolled agent and tax preparer with an office in Harrisville. She can be reached at 801-686-1995 or at tracy.bunner@hrblock.com.