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Groups Say City Illegally Promoted Recreation Bond

Groups Say City Illegally Promoted Recreation Bond

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BOUNTIFUL, Utah (AP) -- Two groups opposed to a proposed bond for a new recreation center in south Davis County say Bountiful officials illegally promoted the bond.

The Citizens for Tax Fairness and the Utah Taxpayers Association claim the city promoted the bond at a parade and in a newsletter from the mayor.

Members of Citizens for Tax Fairness said that riders on the South Davis Recreation District's float in the Bountiful Handcart Days parade were passing out leaflets urging people to vote for the bond.

Ron Mortensen, a spokesman for the tax groups, said this violated the rules of the parade and also violated state law.

"Our feeling was they violated the spirit of the parade. The more serious point is that the float was made with taxpayer money and run by a government car," Mortensen said.

City manager Thomas Hardy, said, "Nothing was a violation of the state laws. The Youth Council, which sponsored the float, didn't put any city funds into it. Even the driver, a city employee, was a volunteer and helped out of his own accord, not the city's."

Les Paskett, co-chairman of the parade, said that had committee members seen the activity they would have stopped it.

"We are a rule-ignoring society. It's just the way it works, even the fire department was breaking rules. It's near impossible for us to catch every person in the parade for doing something wrong," Paskett said.

The bond opponents also object to a city newsletter sent out in May that contained an article by Mayor Joe Johnson urging voters to approve the recreation center.

The letter was printed and mailed at taxpayer expense in violation of the law, the groups said.

Hardy said the mayor did nothing wrong and the city attorney agreed that the newsletter was legal.

"First of all, the election had not been called yet and the district had not been formed. You can't tell me that he doesn't have the right to show how he feels about something," Hardy said. "It amounts to a sour grapes deal. Some people are just trying to make any allegations they can to get those who support the recreation center to look bad."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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