D-Bell, founder of Utah Wingmen for Property Tax Re-Forum (Reform) was profiled in today's Standard Examiner cover story by Marshall Thompson.
We will include some excerpts here:
Utah legislators opposed to property tax reform better watch out — they have a Top Gun fighter pilot on their tails.
Spurred by a shocking increase in his property tax statement in August, Huntsville resident and Vietnam War veteran Donald Bell, “D-Bell” to everyone he meets, started talking with neighbors and elected officials to discover the cause.
“The more I found out,” he said, “the angrier I got.”
“In the military you don’t get to speak out and participate,” he said. “So this is something new to me. I never thought I would be an activist.”
Now, six months after getting his tax statement, D-Bell doesn’t hesitate to use the word “revolt” when describing the seriousness of the movement. Until now, the former test pilot who once attended the Navy’s Top Gun school, has restricted himself to lobbying state representatives and blogging, at http://www.dbelltax.blogspot.com/. But if meaningful reform doesn’t happen this legislative session, he said, things could get ugly.
“We’ve held off so far, but we might have to march on the Capitol
building to get them (legislators) to pay attention,” he said.
And for one of his best quotes:
The tax fairness group opposes some new bills that would require counties to do mandatory computer mass assessments of property value every year, instead of once every five years. To D-Bell, anyone who thinks increasing the number of mass assessments will help with property tax inequity must “be on drugs.”
“Look what the computers did to us this year,” he said. “We need to change the whole system.”
We at the forum feel Ogden Valley is fortunate to have Machman (D-Bell) on our side.
Hanging on to Yesterday
Also from Sunday's Life section was a feature story from Brad Gillmam entitled "Hanging on to Yesterday." Click here to read the entire story, but we will post part of the story below.
What if Mayberry transformed into a resort town? Imagine the look on Gomer Pyle’s face as multimillion-dollar homes were being built around the city. What
if Opie’s school were closed down, and Aunt Bee packed up because she couldn’t afford the prices? While Mayberry may be fictional, Utah’s version is not. And things are not perfect in Mayberry. “We’re under attack from all angles,” said Richard Sorenson, a member of Huntsville’s town council. Huntsville rests on the eastern edge of Ogden Valley, which has seen large growth in the last decade.
“There are a lot of contractors coming into our valley, everybody wants a piece of the pie now — they’ve all discovered our little hidden secret,” said Jim Truett, another Huntsville town council member, who affectionately refers to the town as “Mayberry.”
Huntsville Mayor Jim McKay said most changes are outside the city. Resting outside of town are several large condominiums and mansions, the prices of which easily run several million dollars. That’s changed the look of the valley, McKay said.
The place has become a playground for visitors, what with Pineview Reservoir,
Powder Mountain and terrain that’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
“So the impact of the valley is on the valley as a whole,” McKay said.
Regarding taxes and the impact on Seniors as well as younger generations:
Most considered a 2007 tax hike an attack on senior citizens, “but it’s
also hard for the younger people up here,” said Erma Wilson of Huntsville. “It’s just unfair.” “I just don’t feel like it was the
valley that we moved up to.” Richard Sorenson was born and raised in the town,
but he has a hard time finding alumni. “I’m 43 and I can count on one hand, maybe two hands, the kids in the entire valley that are my age, that went to school with me that live up here,” Sorenson said. “And many of them would like to but can’t afford it up here.”
When asked about Valley School moving to Eden,
“I’m afraid our little town will dry up and blow away,” said Bonnie
Sorenson, Richard Sorenson’s mother and a 60-year resident of Huntsville.
Regarding declining volunteerism:
“People in this small of a town, it was almost like an obligation to
serve,” said [Donald aka D-Bell]Bell, of Huntsville.
But, “Times have changed and I miss that.”
It’s always been that give and-take relationship that made Huntsville tick. “I relied on them for things and they relied on me,” said [John- incorrectly named Scott in the article] Posnien, owner of the Shooting Star. “The camaraderie has been strong, been very good.”
One of Richard Sorenson’s duties is to get volunteers for several events.
But he sees the same volunteers over and over.
“I don’t get a lot of responses,” Sorenson said. “It’s
like 5 percent of the people do 95 percent of the work.
“If we don’t want a Wal-Mart across the street from us ... or if we
don’t want a bunch of condominiums, I personally think we need to look at
annexation very, very seriously,” Truett said.
“I don’t think there is a way to prevent it,” Sorenson said. “I think growth is inevitable. But I think it needs to be planned and we do whatever we can to grow responsibly.” There’s no guess as to what happens next, but Truett knows that the attacks have taken their toll ... “And we’re tired of fighting it.”