Four would-be City Council members have spent a total of more than $12,000 campaigning for office this year.
Most of the campaign money for Renee Coon, Sam Fowler, Jim Huefner and Ann Wilcox have come from the candidates' own bank accounts. But the two largest spenders aren't telling who has donated more than $50 to their campaigns.Ann Wilcox, who has spent $5,500 on her bid, says she would disclose the names of those "big" donors had she told them they might be released to the public.
The second largest spender, Sam Fowler, feels the same.
"The good folks who donated to my campaign were told there would be no disclosure. I have to honor their right to confidentiality," he said.
Both Wilcox and Fowler said all of their donations came from family or friends and that none were from businesses or political action committees.
The voluntary disclosures were sought last week by the League of Women Voters during a meet-the-candidates night. All of the candidates have said they would support a law requiring it of municipal office-seekers.
This year's third-largest spender is candidate Jim Huefner; his $2,000 campaign has been funded entirely from his own pocket. "I have solicited no contributions nor have I accepted any financial help because I want to avoid any hint of financial impropriety or conflict of interest," he said.
Incumbent Renee Coon has spent $1,140. Five people have donated more than $50 to her campaign, including her parents and Mr. and Mrs. Vernal Thompson, long-time opponents of several Val Verda-area annexations into the city.
Debate in the campaign has focused on several issues, including the city's keeping of $24 million in cash reserves.
Officials have used the reserves in the past for capital improvements such as road work. They spent $5.8 million this year buying part of a coal-fired power plant in New Mexico.
Those critical of the practice say the city should return some of the reserves to taxpayers in the form of reduced fees and franchise taxes.
However, more than half of the reserves are mandated by state law or can't be returned to taxpayers, said City Manager Tom Hardy. Some, for example, have been raised by developers paying fees; another large chunk is the city's own liability insurance fund.
Other issues debated have included the extension of Bountiful Boulevard into Salt Lake City; whether the city should subdivide and sell land at Tolman Elementary School and foothill development.
Here is a list of the candidates and a summary of some of their positions:
Renee Coon, who is finishing her fourth year on the council, thinks the city ought to keep some reserves but wants a study of how much. "We probably need what we have but do we need more? It's too easy for the council to push a project using the reserves without enough public input," she said.
The 41-year-old housewife and art student says she has fought for the public's right to know while on the council and would continue that push if re-elected.
She is opposed to the city subdividing and selling a popular soccer field near Tolman Elementary School. The city proposed the deal as a way to raise money for development of parks in parts of the city without enough green space.
Sam Fowler, 68, retired manager for Mountain Fuel, says he's "surprised" at how much green space the city enjoys. But he still wouldn't support the Tolman deal.
He wouldn't oppose the extension of Bountiful Boulevard into downtown Salt Lake City but worries it would effect local businesses. "Another route into downtown is needed," he said.
Fowler considers himself fiscally conservative and likes the city's policy of keeping cash reserves. "I like having a year's supply of cash."
Jim Huefner, 48, controller for an engineering firm, has been the most outspoken critic of cash reserves. He suggests the "slush fund ought to be put to work for the benefit" of residents.
"According to the 1993-94 budget, the projected garbage fees are $1.1 million. The city could waive these charges for 25 years and still have money left over. Similarly, if the city paid for everyone's water service out of the reserves and investments on hand, it would be more than 21 years before it ran out of cash - that's assuming no interest was earned on the current cash reserves."
Officials could also use some of the reserves to pay off Redevelopment Agency bonds, or to buy foothill land to limit development, or to expand the police reserve force, he said.
Ann Wilcox, 51, is president of Concerned Citizens of Bountiful, a group active in city government.
She believes the city should not subdivide its property at Tolman Elementary. She also supports the city's keeping cash reserves as long as the reserves do not exceed the annual city budget.
Wilcox, who is also a member of the Bountiful Community Theater board, would push for construction of a cultural/performing arts center. She also would emphasize creating more opportunities for citizen involvement in government and has a detailed plan for school-age children.
"I would like to see hands-on learning for both teens and elementary-aged students. Elementary classrooms for example could be organized into small cities with a mayor, city council and service departments," Wilcox said.
Bountiful campaign donations and funding
Candidate $25 or less $26 or more Own
Renee Coon $70 $750 $445
Sam Fowler $3,333 $499 *
Jim Huefner $0 $0 $2,000
Ann Wilcox $1,305 $280 $3,920
* Fowler has spent $3,832 total but would not disclose how much was his own.