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PROVO MAYOR’S HISTORY IS DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

SHARE PROVO MAYOR’S HISTORY IS DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

Sometimes it's not easy being an incumbent in a political race.

People love you for what you've done as well as for what you've not done.And, people hate you for what you've done as well as for what you've not done. An incumbent's history is a double-edged sword, as Mayor Joe Jenkins is finding out.

Jenkins must base his campaign for re-election largely on his past words and deeds. As we approach the municipal election, it's worth taking a look back at his record, and comparing it to what is being said about him by his opponent, Sherm Hislop.

In 1985 when Jenkins was campaigning for his first term as mayor, he emphasized:

- Revitalization of downtown Provo and an aggressive marketing approach to bring in new business.

There has been a $2 million increase in sales revenue in the city; more than half of the top 25 retailers, including car dealerships, in Provo City are located downtown. And today there are more businesses downtown than four years ago, according to economic development officials.

Hislop says many of Provo's newer businesses were already under way or on the drawing board before Jenkins took office in 1986.

- Need for infrastructure improvements.

Ninety miles of street lanes have been redone in Provo in the past three years, including 200 West, Center Street, 300 South and 900 East.

- A new library. The city has a new library. But cost overruns caused the city to reduce its size, and, as a result, the new library is too small to meet the city's current needs adequately. Also, expansion is practically impossible because of the way the library was built.

- Provo never would realize a return on the East Bay Business Center.

East Bay is not paying its own way - yet. In 1986, when Jenkins took office, the bonding structure on the project was such that for every dollar of property sold to developers, 94 cents went to bond payment while 6 cents went to real estate commissions and other fees. There was no money left over to put into roads, sewer lines and other infrastructure projects.

The city refinanced the debt with a high-risk junk bond that restructured payment to provide 40 cents of every dollar for infrastructure improvements. The bond will be paid off in December.

Hislop says most of the planning and infrastructure was already in place for East Bay before Jenkins took office in 1986.

Looking at another area: There have been increases in the cost of city administration. Some cost increases are the result of department reorganization and others have increased because of greater emphasis by the city - economic development, for example. And some smaller increases can be attributed to inflation.

On the other hand, in some departments there have been decreases in expenditures - the public services budget has been reduced 43 percent through the elimination of the commercial sanitation division. Comparing the city's 1984-85 budget to its 1989-90 budget, there has been an increase of 7.6 percent over five years.