Bountiful council candidates' priorities: Tax base, high service standards

Oct 18 2011 - 10:49pm

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John Marc Knight
Beth Holbrook
Scott Myers
Richard Higginson
Ernie Cox
Micah Day
John Marc Knight
Beth Holbrook
Scott Myers
Richard Higginson
Ernie Cox
Micah Day

BOUNTIFUL -- Three incumbents and one former councilman are among the six candidates vying to fill three city council seats in the Nov. 8 election.

The candidates are incumbents John Marc Knight, Beth Holbrook and Scott Myers; former councilman Richard Higginson; Ernie Cox, who ran for the council two years ago; and newcomer Micah Day.

The candidates vary greatly in their assessment of the issues facing the community.

Knight, 50, said the budget continues to be the biggest issue for city officials.

The CEO of Energy Insurance & Bonds noted property taxes haven't been raised in 15 years, but the power rate for the city-owned Bountiful City Light & Power Company has been raised to pay for the power plant upgrade under way on 200 West.

"My goal is to continue the practice of not raising the city tax rate and limiting fee increases to the maximum extent possible. Bountiful is a well-run, well-governed, well-policed city," said Knight, who is seeking his second council term.

"I intend to keep up our high standards and implement improvements wherever possible."

Holbrook, 45, is also seeking a second term. She works as director of Zions Bank Business Resource Center. She said it's tough, in looking ahead, to single out any one issue as more important than another.

"I believe that, because our infrastructure is older than (that of) surrounding cities, it presents challenges to maintain," Holbrook said.

"We certainly do not have nearly the commercial base that other cities have, so there is the challenge of making sure that we use our tax base wisely.

"I think that our Main Street can be an amazing location for businesses with the right investment in the area. We are currently working on this, but it takes time and money, in addition to laying out a working commercial plan, in order to drive businesses and buyers to our Main Street area."

She said she wants to see a more defined downtown zone on Main Street and to encourage more community support for local businesses.

"I want to continue to refine our community and bring the best of all worlds together in Bountiful."

Myers, 49, is a commercial real estate broker/developer who says proper zoning and traffic management are the big issues facing the city. He maintains the city needs to actively work to maintain its retail base and needs to take steps to attract restaurants.

Myers is running for his second full term on the council.

Higginson, 46, said maintaining current levels of service and infrastructure upkeep in the face of declining revenues are the big issues facing the city.

The small-business owner said he will economize where possible and lobby for changes to the current state formula for distributing sales tax revenue. He said he would also push for completion of prime commercial properties now sitting vacant in the city.

Cox, 64, is a retired business executive. He identified declining sales tax revenue as the biggest issue facing the city and said with the many services that Bountiful offers -- which he likened to businesses -- it is the city's duty to ensure all services are run efficiently.

"When necessary, we may need to make cuts," Cox said of potential costs to provide those services.

He said the problem is that government has what he calls forced customers and usually trends toward raising taxes when financial troubles arise.

Day, 32, is the youngest candidate in the field. He works for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in facility and event management.

"The biggest issue facing Bountiful is the absence of a diversified tax base. With costs to operate a city constantly rising, and because the availability of buildable land is virtually zero, Bountiful must find a way to broaden the tax base while maintaining its heritage of a peaceful neighborhood community," he said.

Day said he wants to work with city officials to ensure proper zoning is in place to protect neighborhood appeal, but still foster a business-friendly environment.

"By creating a proactive road map to follow, Bountiful can plan for the future by attracting business opportunities that fall in line with the historical livability of the city while providing institutions that serve the needs of its citizens."

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