The Serendipity Of Off-Year Voting
The revenue districts are just packed with surprises.
In the last few years, I’ve been in the habit of joining the local fitness clubs here in Utah. It’s kind of an interesting thing. Many of the local governments here run public fitness clubs. Some are owned by the county government. Some by the city where they’re sited. And some of them are run by special revenue districts.
And they’re all rather nice. They have many of the amenities we might expect to see at 24-Hour Fitness or Planet fitness, and much more. They have weight machines, treadmills, stair steppers, indoor tracks, gymnasiums, and racquetball courts. Some have a few swimming pools. And at least one of them has an ice skating rink. There is something for everyone at the local fitness center in Utah.
So the last election was off-year. The ballot was really short with 3 elections to vote in. As usual, I made a point to research the candidates. I looked at each election, figured out the jurisdiction, found their websites and read the profiles of each candidate. They were local non-partisan elections, so there was very little information to go on. I just did the best I could because I was acting on the ballot just the day before the election. I’ve been busy.
But that last election on the ballot. It was a recreation district — a revenue district. Municipalities will set up revenue districts for all sorts of things. And we pay for them with property taxes. In this case, it was parks and recreation that we’re paying for.
And I have to tell you, for a Red State, Utah takes their public recreation facilities very seriously. There are trails everywhere. Fitness centers dot the county all over. They have Olympic size pools. They have saunas, hot tubs, kiddie pools with shallow water outdoor splash pads, and water slides. And they have programs, tons of programs. You pick what you want to do, pay a nominal fee, and show up. They do the rest while you play.
So I was looking at that district on the ballot, trying to find the candidates. And when I found them, I read their bios and voted for one of them. I even found out later that one of the candidates dropped out after the ballots were printed. And I had voted for that one after I sealed the envelope. Sigh.
I didn’t think much of it after I dropped off my ballot. But I made a note of that revenue district. Then I looked again at the fitness resources that the revenue district represented to me. Then I realized that I voted for a member of the board of trustees for the district. They collect my money when I pay property taxes. The incandescent lightbulb over my head went on.
Then I went to the fitness center website and found their fee schedule. Hmm. Really deep discounts if you’re a resident. I was looking at the family plans and found that they offer an annual family pass for $475 for 5 people for non-residents. Non-residents are people who do not live in the revenue district that supports the fitness center. For people who live in this revenue district, the same plan costs $245. That’s about a 50% discount. That’s what my taxes paid for all these years I’ve been living in this house. And I’ve been paying a lot more for other fitness centers in the past because I wasn’t paying attention. Now I’m paying attention.
And during that time before, we’ve been going to two other fitness centers because they’re nicer, newer, and they’re more expensive because they’re still paying down their revenue bonds. And I wasn’t a resident for one of them, a really nice one. Those other, more expensive fitness centers were still paying off debt.
But there is another bonus. My employer pays me $300 a year just for fitness. I can use that money for equipment or for membership or for classes. They just have to be for exercise. And for me, that means membership at the fitness center I joined a few days ago is free. Or let’s say that it’s included in the compensation I receive for my work.
So that was a benefit I was entitled to due to my residence, and the taxes I pay for living here. This is what I meant a few days ago about noticing abundance. When we take notice of the abundance in our lives, we tend to notice more. We change our perception. We open our minds. And when our minds are open, it’s easier to accept the gifts in life. Sometimes all it takes is a little serendipity to open our minds.