October 22, 2019
Let's talk about taxes
This past week you may have received an inflammatory and misleading political mailer that suggests that I support annual tax increases and will be quick to raise your taxes. This is completely false. I have taken a stand to protect residents from unnecessary tax increases during my time as a community advocate. I would never vote to approve automatic or reoccurring tax increases for the sake of convenience. The single most important job of the city council is to assure our financial soundness though approving a balanced budget. This takes constant scrutiny, priority setting, and adapting to changing market conditions that impact expenses and revenue each year.
Going forward, I will scrutinize the city budget to find savings, starting with the city council’s own discretionary expenses - like eliminating the city council’s $50,000 contract attorney who duplicates the work of the city attorney’s office.
I’d like to talk to you about my position on property taxes and the city budget, so you can hear from me directly.
I want what you want - quality city services, without overspending
As I’ve been meeting with my District 4 neighbors over the course of the campaign, getting a handle on the city’s spending, and funding adequate services is a top concern, especially after this year’s water contamination crisis. Like most of you, I recognize the cost of high-quality public safety service and infrastructure – it’s not cheap.
I want to live in a community where our first responders and public servants are valued and paid well, so we attract and retain the best. Our city is strongest when our public employees have the opportunity to own their own homes and plant roots in the city they serve. Our police officers and firefighters should be able to afford to live in the neighborhoods they protect, raising their families and parking their patrol vehicles in driveways right here in Sandy.
The better our public safety, roads, infrastructure, parks and trails are, the more attractive our city is to businesses and new residents want to come and stay. Last week I spoke with Ali Sabbah, the owner of Sandy’s newest fine dining restaurant, Mazza, on State Street. He said he chose Sandy to invest millions establishing his beautiful restaurant because of our well-run city, the sense of safety due to the professional police and fire services, and close-knit community that appreciates culture and diversity. He mentioned he did not seek or receive tax incentives to bring his business here because Sandy had the things he wanted for his business to grow itself. Investing in our city services and infrastructure will attract businesses like Mazza that will in turn create jobs and add to the sales and property tax base, while strengthening the unique blend of small businesses that sustain our city’s economy.
Why I supported the 2019 Truth in Taxation Property Tax Increase
I supported this year’s property tax increase that resulted in a 22% increase on the 10% portion of the county’s property tax bill that goes to Sandy City. On the average home in Sandy, the Sandy City portion of the tax bill increased by a modest $31 per year. Other taxing entities and the housing market valuation increased our tax bills as well, but as for our city’s portion which was the subject of this year’s city council action, it was a $31 increase on the median home. For those living on a low, fixed income there is property tax abatement available through Salt Lake County. Also, property tax is a deductible expense for tax purposes allowing those who itemize to capture an added benefit. Once people understand it’s an increase on a sliver, and not the whole pie, most agreed that it was needed if we wanted to continue to provide city services at a level we’ve come to expect.
I am the only District 4 candidate who opposed the 2018 Sales Tax Increase
Last year, I was the only District 4 candidate to go on record opposing the ¼ of 1% sales tax increase that our current city council approved, even though a sales tax increase was rejected by the voters in our last election. Unlike property tax, we don’t get a bill at the end of the year for sales tax we’ve paid so it’s harder to demand accountability from those who voted to approve it. The disconnect between how our council votes versus what the people want is a big reason I’m running for council.
I will tell you the truth about our city's finances, and will vote for what's right
Before I started attending city council meetings regularly, I was under the impression Sandy City managed its budget well. That was before I learned that Sandy had an artificially low tax rate. In fact, Sandy City had not had a property tax increase in the last 15 years. City fees continued to rise while property taxes stayed stagnant. In addition to fees, our sales tax increased, which hits working families the hardest.
Past city councils under the old mayor allowed fees collected from our water franchise to be transferred and spent on general operating expenses, amounting to a total of $1.284 million a year from 2012 to 2017. Because of this, the city needed to issue a $7 million bond to fund expensive and urgent water tank maintenance at Flat Iron Park. All collected fees should be used for their stated purpose and not as a surplus fund. Kicking the can down the road gave a false sense of security that has been shaken by this year’s water contamination crisis. What does low property tax mean if we can’t rely on the safety of our water delivery service? This year’s property tax increase pales in comparison to the inflated fees, bonds for deferred maintenance, and last year’s sales tax increase, all of which hits the middle class the hardest.
My business, professional, & personal background focuses on value
As a small business owner who was raised in a large family by Depression Era parents, I know the value of a hard-earned dollar. I’m a frugal person who paid her own way through college and law school. I strive to live simply, pay as I go, and avoid taking on debt. I will bring this principled approach to spending to our city budget process, by applying defined criteria for essential public safety services and a strong infrastructure first, before amenities and discretionary spending is allowed. The cheapest is not always the best, and identifying opportunity and value, as well as savings, is an important attribute of a successful money manager. Finally, as an attorney, I know to account for money I handle that does not belong to me, and I am trained to identify and avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Call me directly
If you have questions or wish to discuss the taxes, fees, or any other issue in our city, please call me at 385-449-1070 or email me at email@example.com. I answer my own phone and respond to my emails and messages. I’ve been working hard to reach every door in every neighborhood in District 4. If we have not yet connected, and you would like to visit personally, please let me know.
I’m Monica Zoltanski, running for City Council District 4 and I hope to earn your vote.
A Principled Approach to Zoning
September 15, 2019
When zoning protection fails, everyone should be worried.
Over the past weeks I've fielded a lot of questions about the rezoning application for the property on 114th. I’ve paid close attention to the process and learned a lot about where we are and where we’re going with zoning large lots out of existence in Sandy. I’ve talked to many of my constituents at their doorstep who are concerned about the pace of development.
5/21/2019: Annex came before the City Council, who was informed by city staff at marker 3:24:23 that "this [property] will eventually be developed as R-1-10 lots with the neighboring properties". It was also said at marker 3:24:50 that "this won't develop alone, it has to be developed with the neighbors". These comments show that redevelopment of all these large parcels was planned before annexation was even voted on. It's also important to note that the applicant for annexation was not the property owner, but Kirk Young, a developer and business associate of Cory Shupe, who is the former Sandy City Planning Commissioner who presented this application to the planning commission and city council. Annexation was approved by a unanimous vote.
6/25/19: Rezone application was submitted to the city to rezone 4.5 acres at R-1-40A (1 acre residential with agriculture rights) to 15 homes zoned R-1-10 (quarter acre residential with no agriculture rights). Concept plans show an access street from 11400 South with a stub street extending to the neighboring properties to both the east and west.
8/1/19 Planning Commission Meeting: I was the only candidate to comment and object to the rezone. Cyndi Sharkey, an at-large candidate that currently sits on the planning commission, said prior to voting in favor of the rezone at marker 42:25:
6/25/19 Rezone Proposal
“It seems like we are making a judgment call that this kind of life that exists in this neighborhood is over. My concern is that by making this zoning decision, we are making it over with, you know? I don’t know if I’m ready to make that judgment call for people that want to live this kind of lifestyle throughout Sandy. Do I want to tell them ‘your life like this is over, sorry’. I feel like, again, repeating myself, that to make this decision classifies it as over basically.”
8/20/19 City Council Meeting: I was the first candidate to raise the conflict of interest concern, and called for the resignation of planning commissioner Cory Shupe, who was representing the application and taking a strong position against the majority of residents participating in the public comment. At-large candidate Jim Edwards was also in attendance and echoed my concern, insisting that the council listen to residents who raised the conflicts problem.
8/27/19 City Council Meeting: I restated my call for the planning commissioner to resign saying his conflicted position would taint the future work of the planning commission and could not be remedied to regain the public trust.
9/3/19 City Council Meeting: Mayor Bradburn announced Commissioner Shupe tendered his resignation. I called for the tainted rezone application to be voided.
9/8/19: The Deseret News published an article outlining the conflicts and rezoning issue.
9/11/19: The applicant withdrew their original application.
9/14/19: Application re-filed to rezone 4.5 acres at R-1-40A (1 acre residential with agriculture rights) to 10 homes zoned R-1-15A (1/3 acre lots with agriculture rights). Neighborhood meeting to be held on October 2nd at 7:00 p.m in the multipurpose room at Sandy City Hall. The process begins anew.
9/14/19 New Rezone Proposal
The application clearly shows a road stubbed to properties to the east and west. The voices in in favor of the rezone are adjoining neighbors - or relatives of adjoining neighbors - who stand to profit when their properties will be added to this future development as planned. Maybe not right now, but soon.
For anyone to suggest this development will only bring in the 10-15 homes under the recent proposal either demonstrates an alarming lack of understanding of the scope of the long term objective. Or worse, it could be a deliberate attempt to confuse the issue to the residents. Either way it's wrong. This narrow view ignores the city's own planning that anticipates the adjoining acreage will invevitably fall to annexation and rezoning after this project gets approval. As stated on the record,this [property] won't be developed alone, it has to be developed with the neighbors".
My commitment as a community leader and candidate is to keep you informed to give you the long-range context, not only about decisions specific to our district, but those impacting our city as a whole. I will make sure you are updated and informed much as I did for the hearing on September 3rd when I delivered flyers to the surrounding neighborhood. Those I spoke with expressed their deep appreciation for the information as they were unaware of the proposal. Because of my work, they were able to have a chance to voice their opinions.
Critics argue that this rezone only pertains to "horsey rights", but this affects all of us in the city. We know better and know that rezoning should only be considered when there is a strong community need beyond profit. The integrity of our zoning is designed to protect our neighborhoods from piecemeal development.
If your neighborhood can be adversely affected by zoning, I’m going to tell you upfront.
I will guard against predatory developers and be an independent voice on the council not beholden to special interests. It would be wise to question the motives of any candidate that questions putting information directly into the hands of residents.
I'll be continuing to post updates on this as this issue develops.
August 25, 2019
You'll find me at meetings and community events throughout the city that bring people together from different backgrounds. People reach out to me when they have concerns - with anything from streetlights shining into their bedroom windows to zoning issues - and I help them navigate the local government process to get positive results.
Community issues that I'm actively involved in or on record fighting for include: