New boss, same as the old boss • State Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, was selected by his fellow Republicans Thursday to be the new president of the Utah Senate. He replaces outgoing Sen. Michael Waddoups, who did not seek re-election to the Legislature this year. Other than the name, though, it seems that there will be little change in the presiding officer's chair. Like Waddoups, Niederhauser hails from the rapidly growing 'burbs of Salt Lake County, is in the real estate game, and is a friend of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, the right-wing national alliance of state lawmakers that aspires to put its anti-regulation, anti-environment, anti-tax philosophy into the statute books of as many states as possible. Niederhauser also defends the indefensible practice of closed caucus deliberations held by Republicans in both chambers. He says the policy "creates some transparency."
County tax shock • We do not regret our support of the recently passed Salt Lake County bond issue, in which voters approved borrowing $47 million to expand and upgrade the county parks system. But some county residents would be forgiven if they felt a little baited-and-switched by the 2013 county budget rolled out Thursday two days after the election by Mayor Peter Corroon. That budget, which calls for a 17 percent hike in the county's property tax levy, is the result of the same problem that inspired the park bonds: years of cutting, trimming and deferred maintenance that Corroon feels can no longer be sustained in the face of a rising population and more strains on the social services and law enforcement divisions. The County Council and the public will now weigh in on the budget proposals. The decisions won't be easy.