Anonymous Comments Will Be Removed

Anonymous posts can be confusing and hard to follow with several users posting anonymously in the same thread. Please create a User Name/ID when adding to our comments section.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bison Creek Property Sold?

It appears that the area approved for the Bison Creek development in
the Huntsville area has signs posted on the property to the effect that the land has been purchased from the original developer.

If anyone has additional information please post in the comments.

Your VCRD Staff

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Guest Post from State Rep. Gage Froerer on Property Tax Reform

As you know, I have been actively working as a member of the Revenue and Taxation Committee to come up with solutions to our property tax problem in the Valley and the State of Utah. The time is now for definite action if we want to make any changes in the existing tax system in the next legislative session. I would ask each of you to review the issue as presented below and get back to me before mid October with your ideas and suggestions.

The Problem As I View It!
Predictability is the foundation of a fair and soundly administered tax system. Most importantly, a predictable tax system ensures tax certainty for taxpayers. "Tax certainty" means that taxpayers can, year after year, consistently expect a predictable tax bill.

No one likes an unpleasant surprise when it comes to paying taxes. Taxpayers want to be certain as to what their tax liability will be and when the taxes are due. Tax certainty improves both taxpayer compliance and support for the tax system. Taxpayers lose confidence in the tax system, and view it as arbitrary and unfair, if it cannot provide a predictable and stable tax obligation.

Tax certainty is especially critical under the property tax. The property tax is the only tax where the government determines the tax to be paid and then sends a bill to collect the tax that is due -- months after the assessment. Unlike sales or income taxes where tax choices are largely in the hands of the taxpayer, a taxpayer's property tax liability is determined and controlled, in large measure, by the government.

Utah's current property tax system, based on fair market value (FMV), does not ensure tax certainty for taxpayers. Difficulties in accurately determining fair market value on a mass basis, volatile housing prices, shifting tax burdens, and tax rate increases, have led to dramatic increases in property taxes for many Utah taxpayers.

Improving Taxpayer Certainty for Property Taxpayers
Improving taxpayer certainty will help restore taxpayer confidence in the property tax system. Under my proposal, property taxpayers can be certain that their annual property tax liability will nearly always be within certain bounds.

Highlights of the plan include (click here to view):

Issues for Discussion and Comment

1. Should this plan apply to residential property only? (Owner occupied and/or rental?) Or all locally assessed property? (No change is contemplated for personal property or centrally-assessed property.)

2. Should this plan require a dynasty provision? How are property transfers between spouses treated? Between generations?

3. Should this plan allow a transferring of the "fixed basis" from one house to another? Within counties? Between
counties? How many times? Age limit?

4. How to handle drop-in housing prices? Drop below either base year level or acquisition value?

5. Is the "growth factor" set statewide or will it vary by region?

6. How to handle new construction on raw land when no sale occurs. How is the tax basis determined? Cost basis?

I look forward to your comments and suggestions and I can ensure you that by working together, we can make a difference in our County and State.

Comments should be sent to Gage Froerer prior to October 15th.

Gage Froerer
District 8 State House of Representatives.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

One Idea on Property Tax Reform

Blogmeister Update: Be sure to view the Property Tax Reform Web Site that we have linked prominently in the right column under the ACTION ALERT.

Below is one suggestion for some property tax relief for Utah citizens. There are many other possible approaches, but the citizens of Utah need to get their constructive views to their elected representatives.

We feel the place to make changes is in the movement of education funding from property taxes (50-60% of the bills) to consumer (sales) taxes. This would result in an immediate reduction in property taxes for almost everyone, and would spread the education tax load more equitably to all consumers across the state. The legislature could enact a trigger property tax supplement if sales revenues were not high enough in an off sales year. We think the public reaction would be favorable with the exception of the education people (UEA), but so many retired and low income Utah residents may be unable to pay the looming property tax bills if something definitive is not passed this year.

It is difficult to fathom the opposition of the UEA in Utah to almost any property tax reform. This approach would not have to change the amount the educational system receives, it would just change the source. Two states, Michigan and Georgia, have passed similar legislation.

Failure to act positively by our state legislature may force the Utah voters to take matters into their own hands with a statewide tax initiative similar to Proposition 13 in California in the 1970s.

Let your voices be heard! Write to the tax Committee chairmen listed in the earlier post and write to our State Senator and State Representative as well!

Larry and Sharon Zini

vote against incumbents...they have earned our disdain said...

This comment promoted to the front page

vote against incumbents...they have earned our disdain said...

Truthfully, if anyone (other than direct relatives) vote for incumbents at the County level... (Dearden is up for re-election this year), or the State Legislative level (Representative Gage Froerer is up for reelection), they deserve to continue to pay and pay and pay more and more property taxes and fees.

If you vote to keep Commissioner Dearden and Representative Froerer in office, I would suggest you are simply uninformed ...or ignorant. When Bishoff and Zogmaster and Assessor Cheryl Madson come up for reelection, we need to also remember them too. Senator Christenson has done nothing in office but attend boon doggles and accept bribes disguished as hunting trips, etc.

We all need to remember last year, and previous years they have been in office. The legislation they have passed, like the developer's dream bill, HB 466 (Powderville enabling), and many other realtor/developer friendly legislation and decisions are arrogant and blatantly offensive to decent people and rightful thinking citizens.

Representative Froerer sponsored a bill to make it legal for developers to by-pass local Planning Commissions and to go directly to County Commissions, for example. And there is more...much more, from a rabid "lapdog" of the Utah Realtor's Association...Gage Froerer. He said and did nothing while Ogden Valley property taxes continue to shoot through the roof. He said nothing while the illegal and outrageous HB 466 passed without a single vote, nor question, raised against its authors...The Utah Realtor Association. Previous to 2006 when he was "elected", Froerer served as the President of this nefarious organization.

Why would anyone want another Realtor/Developer representing our District (Ogden Valley or Ogden)? Oh...I also forgot...there ARE more than 10,000 members of the Utah Realtor's Association. They of course will virtually all be voting for more of the same graft and corruption within the Utah State Legislature. Their "dues" (amounting to more than $10,000,000
a year, are funneled into PACs (Political Action Committees), often disguised such as "The Citizens for Personal Property Rights" ironically, which are used to pay off about 60% of the Utah State legislators. This outright bribery is further disguised as "Campaign Contributions or Donations", all legal in Utah, since these bottom feeding, unethical and immoral slime control the laws.

The ONLY way out of this Utah Realtor/Developer scheme is to vote all of them out of office at every level of government.

Sat Sep 20, 05:34:00 PM 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You and your Property Taxes

We recommend that you go to this web site:


What is the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee? The Utah State Legislature knows of the propery tax problem and had the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee formed in the 2007 legislative session to look into this problem. Senator Wayne Niederhauser and Representative John Dougall Co chair this committee.

Senator Niederhauser and other members of the committee need to hear from you tax payers and how you feel about this issue. They will be making their recomendations soon; so you need to email your district senators, representatives and these committee members as soon as possible. The committee has this summer to hopefully come up with some good recomendations. Contact your repesentatives by sending an email letting them know your thoughts on the future of our property tax system.

For Ogden Valley residents and others in Weber County, contact:

State Senator Allan Christensen (
Gage Froerer State Representative (

To Contact the Revenue and Taxation Committee leaders:

Wayne Niederhauser (
John Dougall (

Remember, Speak up for what you want, or take what you get!

Your VCRD Staff

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Weber County responds to Powder Mountain Legal action

From Today's Standard Examiner: D. Lewis Reporter

OGDEN — Granting developers the right to create a town without input and then select town government without oversight is “tantamount to monarchy.”
At least that’s what the Weber County Attorney’s Office says.
In a response filed Tuesday to Aug. 26 litigation from Powder Mountain developers, the Weber County Commission acknowledges it was required by law to appoint a mayor and town council for Powder Mountain after the resort incorporated as a town on Aug. 5.
The argument now, however, is who gets to choose names on the list from which the appointments will be made.
Commissioners argue the law requires them to appoint “from a list of qualified individuals approved by the petition sponsors,” not from “the list” submitted by the town’s founders.
Tuesday’s response is the latest in the clash over Powder Mountain. The resort incorporated under a 2007 state law that allowed Powder Mountain to become a town without input from the county or residents of the affected area.
The commission approved incorporation, but refused to approve the developers’ list of six people submitted for town government.
The commissioners then worked with developers to create a larger list of 19 names, but once again declined to approve the list on Aug. 19 after they were presented with a shorter 11-person list.
While the commission states it was ready and willing to approve the town government, it felt the developers’ lists did not give commissioners room to exercise their duties to represent the people who would be part of the new town.
The petitioners — developers Mark Arnold, Edward Bates and Lee Daniels — contend the commission is required to appoint from whatever list they submit as long as the applicants are qualified, legally defined as registered voters having lived in the area making up the town for a year or more.
In response, the commission asserts this stance violates the Utah Constitution by delegating authority to control municipal functions to a private group.
Article VI Section 28 of the Constitution states, “The Legislature shall not delegate to any special commission, private corporation or association any power to … perform any municipal functions.”
The response also argues the selection of the town government is critical to the success and well-being of the town, especially because it was formed without outside input.
The response adds that, if the Legislature had intended for the commission to approve any qualified list from the petitioners, the law would have been worded differently.
The commissioners said they are supposed to protect the health, safety and welfare of county residents and attempted to do so by seeking input from both residents and the petition sponsors of Powder Mountain.
However, they feel they cannot fulfill their duties if forced to approve only the developers’ list.
Mellissa Cameron, spokeswoman for the developers, said Tuesday evening their attorneys had not yet seen the county’s response and she could not comment on it.

UPDATE: Be sure to read Rudi's post on the Weber County Forum regarding the County's response.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Property Tax Appeal Deadline Monday

We are short on time, but wanted to highlight a Standard Examiner article reminding us of the Monday deadline for appealing your property taxes.

From the Di Lewis article we read:

The appeals received so far have not been concentrated in any one area, and (Roger) Brunker (Chief Deputy of the Weber County Auditors office) said he has not seen anything like the mass appeals from Huntsville residents last year.

Larry Zini, who lives in Ogden Valley near Huntsville, said taxes are “going up at a startling rate. ... It’s crazy.”

His wife, Sharon Zini, filed an appeal last year after the estimated value of their land nearly doubled. This year, Larry Zini said, the amount he is paying in taxes went up by 27 percent, on top of the 22 percent increase he paid last year.

However, Huntsville town Councilman Richard Sorensen said he does not think the property values rose as drastically this year in Huntsville.

He said there is not “the uproar there was last year” over increased assessment values.

“Last year one of the properties in town went up 800 percent. I think it (the value of properties) went up so much last year we got the ear of the assessor’s office,” he said, adding his own taxes went down $400 from last year.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

We want to hear from you, Ogden Valley. What happened with your taxes this year?

Did you have a significant increase, decrease or did they stay the same as last years outrageous bump.

Are you willing to fight for alternative taxation during the upcoming legislative session?

Click on the comments link below and let us know.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

An Update on the Horse Theft - The Old West Lives Again!

From a page right out of the Old West, we didn't think it could get any crazier until we received an email this morning inquiring about the outcome of the missing horse saga.

We originally ran the story on August 30, 2008 at the request of several individuals close to the abduction. This site was updated a few times during the "golden hours," and the horse owner even posted an update on September 2, 2008.

We would like to think our site was helpful in the early hours to spread the word, and we posted every update that was made available in a timely manner. As a point of clarification, the Ogden Valley Forum is an "open" forum and anyone close to the case (or not so close) could have posted an update via the comments link.

A week passed, and we received this email this morning:

Was their any kind of resolution with the horse theft situation? You have not updated the site or blog as to if the horses were safely returned home. It seems in a small town like ours, out of common courtesy, as well as for our eyes that are still trying to look out for them, that there would be some kind of update.

"Out of common courtesy," we did some investigating and were surprised by what we found.

First, we found some photos that were posted at various locales Valley wide. The photos depict the alleged "Rig" and stolen horses.
See if you recognize either the rig or the yard in the background.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

In the mean time, we contacted some sources close to the investigation and received this consensus:

"They have been found and are ok. The police are in the process of their investigation so we can't say too much right now other than the horses are doing well."

We think there will be an interesting story behind the horse burglary. A KSL News Story on September 4, 2008 reported that "the Weber County Sheriff's Department tells us this may be a case of someone taking the property because they feel the pony owners owe them."

Did the owner of the white SUV take the law into his own hands?

Is there more to this crazy story?

Stay tuned - It just cannot get any better than this!

Or could it?

Don't Forget - Stephen Trimble Book signing Tonight at Ogden Valley Library

We mentioned this last week, but be sure to visit the Ogden Valley Library at 7 PM on September 10, 2008 to meet Stephen Trimble, Author of "Bargaining For Eden."

UPDATE @ 10 am

Be sure to Read Mr. Trimble's comments by clicking the "Comments" link below.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Weber County Commission and Ogden Valley Planning Commission To Update General Plan

UPDATE: The location has been changed from the Chambers to a conference room.

A Sunday Standard Examiner article informed us of a joint work session between the Planning commission and the County Commissioners to review and update the Ogden Valley General plan.

Here are the details:

September 8, 2008 (Tonight)

5:00 PM

Weber County Commission Conference Room Suite 360

2380 Washington Blvd
Ogden, UT

From the article:

Seven key policy issues will be the main topics of discussion, including recreation development scenarios, population goals, land preservation, real estate transfer taxes and water and sewer systems.

(Rob) Scott (Weber County Planner) said the plan needs to be re-evaluated because of changes to Ogden Valley since the plan was originally created, such as the Olympics, Powder Mountain and other development activity.

However, he said, the fresh look at the general plan is not a reaction to the recent controversy surrounding the incorporation of Powder Mountain as a town.

It should be an interesting meeting - see you there!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Huntsville Resident and Vietnam Veteran, Gene Wahlstrom, Passes

The local and national media has focused on one of our fallen valley heroes, Mr. Gene Wahlstrom of Huntsville, and we want to add our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the Wahlstrom family.

In arguably one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, Gene survived twenty plus years of low level/high altitude/heavy weight, precision aviating. Ironically, his life was tragically cut short by a malfunction of the aircraft. Gene was a fantastic pilot and mentor to all.

Gene and his wife Joyce were avid Harley riders, and we ran across a forum of the Patriot Guard Riders that has some very touching tributes to Gene.

We will miss you Gene. Rest in Peace.

Ogden Valley Forum Exclusive - The Powder Mountain Press Release

We secured a copy of the original Press Release from the poor, picked on Powderville petitioners, and it should generate some interesting critiques from our readers. It is relatively short, so we will post it in its entirety below (emphasis added):

Press Statement

We, the petitioners for incorporation of the Town of Powder Mountain, filed an action against Weber County in the Second District Court on August 26, 2008. We do not take this course of action lightly; in the past, we have actually been extremely slow to publicly defend our position in order to facilitate good faith negotiations. However, based upon the Weber County Commission’s actions on August 19, refusing to appoint a Town Council and Mayor, we unfortunately feel we must exercise our legal rights.

The Weber County Commission approved the Incorporation Petition on August 5, and according to the law, upon approving the incorporation petition, it is the Commission’s mandatory obligation to appoint the Town Council and Mayor from a list approved by the petitioners. We presented a list of qualified individuals to the County for the Council and Mayor. These individuals support the town and are excited to serve and represent their neighbors. We have spent countless hours getting to know the citizens who will be residents of this new Town. Every submitted person was recommended to us by a fellow Town member. By refusing to make these appointments, the Commission has demonstrated they are unwilling to facilitate the incorporation of the Town as required by law. We have become caught in an effort by the commission to protect themselves politically, so we have determined that requesting relief from the court is our only option.

We care deeply about the land under our stewardship and about the prospects of the new Town encompassing that land. We have consistently been willing to talk to all stakeholders regarding the desires of neighbors, Ogden Valley and the County. Following the petition submittal, we held dozens of town meetings, as well as small group and one-on-one home meetings. We literally called every household in the town, multiple times, offering to meet with everyone and answer their questions. Then in February, when Commissioner Craig Dearden asked us to return to the bargaining table to work on an agreement to keep the development in the County and dissolve the incorporation petition, we chose in good faith to try to work things out again, something no other incorporating town has been willing to do. We had extensive talks and spent nearly seven months and several hundred thousand dollars in staff, drafting and professional time. These discussions consistently led to unfulfilled promises and the creation of a constantly moving target by the Commission.

We have never asked for nor do we desire any special favors, just a fair and impartial panel that holds the fate of this land in their hands. We want what every single property owner in this state desires and vigorously defends, our private property rights respected. In return we have been and will continue to be good neighbors and good community and government partners. If we were not so committed to this area, and to honoring all that this resort can and should be, we would have given up long ago. It is our sincere hope to quickly move past this phase and get to the business of being a Town.

End of Press Release

Now isn't that a touching piece? It almost brings a tear to the eye of even the most calloused and insensitive.

Surely many of the items mentioned could be refuted, but we would like to hear from the Powderville Hostages - Have the Powdervillians been "good neighbors and good community and government partners?"

Dozens of Town Meetings? If I am not mistaken, "dozens" means 24 or more. Did they in fact hold 24 or more town meetings? Or maybe they are considering private meetings amongst the petitioners to be "town meetings." After all, it is a company town.

Take it away, Ogden Valley. Do you notice any credibility problems?

Powder Mountain Town Issue Heading To Court

We are short on time this morning, so we will link you to the Weber County Forum where Rudi has provided us with an excellent run down of the most recent events.

It is no surprise that the arrogant Powdervillian's have once again continued with their strong arm tactics to get their boys (and girls) on the town council.

Renowned Utah Author to Speak At Ogden Valley Library

On September 10th at 7 PM at the Ogden Valley Library in
Huntsville, Stephen Trimble will present his new book, “
Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces
In America.”

The book takes a hard look at the values that shape
developers and land use policy. It also explores the tension
between community and development in the West.

A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Powder Mountain article-Counter Point!

If you read the article today on Powder Mountain in the Standard Examiner, you will find how a supposedly non biased article can be slanted to fit any view desired by excluding other points of view.

Let’s dissect this article with known facts and see how it stands up for unbiased reporting:

1. Mr. Lowther sounds like he is the only homeowner that is not wealthy that will be affected by this forced incorporation.

FACT: Mr. Lowther is in the minority number of affected homeowners that favor the forced incorporation, a majority oppose it.

2. Mr. Lowther said “I think the best way is to have the local people control what’s going on rather than people that don’t live in the Valley and have no real concern for what’s going on up here.”

FACT: NONE of the Petition Sponsors for the Powder Mountain incorporation live in Ogden Valley.

3. Jamie Lythgoe said she is uniquely qualified for the position after working with the OV planning commission. Lythgoe also said she does not foresee any problems with a conflict of interest. She said “I don’t think anyone has a hidden agenda.”

FACT: The Planning Commission Procedures regarding Conflict of Interest Part A, reads: “A Planning Commissioner to whom some private
benefits may come as the result of a Planning Commission action should not be a participant in the action.” It also states, “The private benefit may
be direct or indirect, create a material, personal gain or provide a distinct advantage to RELATIONS or to friends or to groups and associations which hold some share of a person’s loyalty.”

FACT: Does Lythgoe mean like working (as she did) on the OVPC and at the same time the Town Incorporation plans behind the scenes? A conflict is already fact in our opinion and where is the concern for the public trust anywhere to be found?

In October of 2007 Planning Commission Chairman Louis Cooper and Assistant County Attorney Chris Allred were quoted in the Standard-Examiner
that they were both under the impression that the Cobabe family had sold
all of their interests at Powder Mountain. In addition, Monette Hurtado
was quoted as saying, “ As to the specific ownership, I don’t know the details.
” Ms. Hurtado also said “She did disclose that her family sold all their land.”

More Facts: The Cobabe family still owns over 200 acres up in the Powder Mountain area, yet the leaders of this County refuse to address any conflict of interest.

5. The Standard Examiner reporter today wrote “Having three people from the same family's appointees has been a concern for opponents of the town”

FACT: It is the Weber County Commissioners that have opposed the family weighted list submitted by Powder Mountain in the two Commission meetings. The eloquence of Commissioner Jan Zogmaister was apparent when she stated they “could have a family reunion and have a quorum”.

One has to wonder why today’s Standard Examiner Article omitted the fact that the Powder Mountain representatives failed to answer the Weber County Commissioner’s questions on why Powder Mountain did not include any names of individuals interviewed by the Commission and a Powder Mountain representative for town council other than signers of the petition, Cobabe family members, employees or potential employees of Powder Mountain.

6. Mr. Lowther said “ he does see many potential benefits from the development, though, such as lower taxes and acquiring green space to compensate for development.”

FACT: When was the last time anyone around a big development saw their property taxes go down? The property taxes have jumped across the Ogden Valley due to all the new development in the past 4 or 5 years. Consider what will happen if Powder Mountain puts in their so called “World Class” resort next to our Valley? Your property value may go up, but that may only help if you want to sell. If you stay put, you are probably going to share in the dubious “glory” of substantial increases in property taxes in the future.

Larry and Sharon Zini

The Standard Takes Two Steps Forward and Twenty Steps Back and An Update on the Horse Theft

Just when the local rag, aka The Standard Examiner, had made such strides on the Powderville saga, we read this morning's piece of literary trash entitled "Proposed To Lead Powder Mountain Town."

One of our humble Powderville residents offered this heads up by email:

Has everyone seen the front page of the Standard Examiner today? There is a completely pro-Powder Mountain article. It seems as if it was written by the Exoro group themselves (PM's PR firm.) John (name changed to protect the innocent) is so angry he called up and cancelled our subscription to the paper. He says we should post a call for everyone to cancel their SE subscriptions for siding with the blatant violation of our rights. We are the ones getting screwed, not PM.

We agree with our humble reader. After the Standard Editorial board had made such great strides with two fabulous editorials, they allow staff writer Di Lewis to publish this. We guess they are taking a page out of Fox News' 'fair and balanced' book?

There are some humorous quotes that must be highlighted.

“I live right on Powder Mountain Road. I’m going to be one of the ones most affected by traffic and development, and I want to be in control of that,” said Lavar Lowther, a town council nominee. “I think the development is going to go ahead whether it’s through a town or a county, and I think the best way is to have the local people control what’s going on rather than people that don’t live in the valley and have no real concern for what’s going on up here.”

Local people who are in Powderville's hip pocket? Or members of one family? Can you say nepotism?

Jamie Lythgoe, another potential council member, believes her experience and background with Powder Mountain would be an asset to the town, although it has also raised questions about a conflict of interest.

Much of the controversy surrounding Lythgoe stems from her family ties to Powder Mountain and her former position on the Ogden Valley Planning Commission.

She does not foresee any problems with a conflict of interest. “I don’t think anyone has a hidden agenda.”

Hasn't her agenda already been executed? She got on the Planning commission during the rezone petition and as that avenue played out, she acted as a mole for the Powdervillians through their rezone petition. AGENDA COMPLETE!

[Alvin] Cobabe, the proposed mayor, said he wants to do what is best for the community, and the Powder Mountain resort has provided a good place for recreation. He said the resort cannot survive on only ticket sales, especially if old ski lifts are to be replaced. “I’ve liked Powder Mountain. I still like it. I like the community,” he said. “And as far as I’m concerned, I’d do what’s fair and best for all concerned. That’s the only reason I’d take the job.”

If he likes the community, why be a part of an unconstitutional process and taking of his neighbor's rights?

Although some are afraid the council will ignore viewpoints that do not support development, Lowther said he would listen to everyone. “I do have concerns about what’s going on up there,” he said. “It’s not like I’m 100 percent in their pocket. I think I can look very objectively at the issues and take into consideration the feelings of the people that are not for, or are ambivalent about, the development.”

If you are not 100 percent in their pocket, just how much are you in their pocket, Mr. Lowther?

Season tickets are now on sale and we say put your money where your mouth is. Snow Basin and Wolf Mountain both have easy access and would love to sell your family a season pass.

Regarding the Horse theft last week, be sure to read the update from Lori. If you are unable to open the link, simply scroll down to the Horse Theft post and click on the Click to Comment link.