When voters in Salt Lake County enter polling booths on Tuesday, they ought to vote yes on a $50 million bond issue that will help recreation facilities keep pace with growth.
General Obligation bonds normally equate to tax increases, but this one is different. Voters already approved the arts and recreation tax last year. This vote simply would allow the county to use some of that money to build 12 important recreation projects now.Why is this important? There are two reasons, and both translate into savings for taxpayers. The first is that building all 12 projects now would be cheaper than building only a few now and a few more later. Inflation tends to make piecemeal strategies more expensive in the long run, even when the interest incurred through debt is figured in.
Which leads to the second reason - interest rates. General obligation bonds carry the lowest rates possible, mainly because they are approved by voter referendum and come with the full faith and backing of the electorate.
If the bond election fails on Tuesday, the county won't abandon recreation. But it would have to find another way to pay for the projects. Most likely, county officials would choose lease-revenue bonds, which would cost an extra $150,000 per year in interest over their nine-year life span. As a result, some of the 12 projects would be sacrificed.
That would be a shame. Urban life is stressful, with its traffic jams, long commutes, deadlines, tight schedules and production quotas. Most people need a place to unwind, a spot of grass on which to run or a hardwood floor on which to bounce a ball. Exercise is mental and physical therapy.
Unfortunately, Salt Lake County had too few parks, swimming pools and recreation centers before the building boom of the '90s hit. Now it is falling way behind.
Tuesday's bond vote is the best chance to catch up a bit. The 12 projects include an ice rink, a softball field, recreation centers and swimming pools, among other things. Significantly, the measure has no meaningful opposition - not even from taxpayer watchdog groups. Clearly, a yes vote would be the best thing for county residents.