City Hall on Election Day will learn whether Parkites want to fund Main Street improvements, conservation purchases and Old Town road upgrades by paying a little bit more when buying something inside Park City.
Alongside the candidates, Park City leaders have placed on the ballot a measure dealing with sales taxes. There appeared to be only limited interest among Parkites in the summer, as Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council decided to put the measure to voters.
It will impact anyone who buys something in Park City other than unprepared foods -- generally those sold in grocery stores. If the measure passes, a tax paid in Park City called the resort communities sales and use tax will be increased slightly. That portion of the overall sales tax is 1.1 percent currently. If the ballot measure passes, it would climb to 1.6 percent. Someone would pay another 50 cents in sales taxes on a $100 purchase.
The base sales tax paid in Park City is 7.45 percent, but the figure climbs depending on what sort of purchase is made. The 7.45 percent includes the 1.1 percent in resort communities sales and use tax. If the measure passes, the base sales tax would tick up to 7.95 percent.
The supporters at City Hall say the increase is something that would impact visitors more than people who live in Park City on a full-time basis.
The elected officials debated the idea during the budget season that ran from the spring until the early summer. They selected the idea to increase the tax as an option to fund the improvements.
In the boom years prior to the recession, City Hall normally was able to fund improvements like those under consideration through the regular budgeting process. The economic downturn made it far more difficult to tap the budget in that fashion.
Park City's budget team projects the increase could bring in an additional $3.2 million in 12 months out the outset. The tax would not have a sunset date.
The extra money that would be generated would likely be enough to fund a list of improvements along Main Street. Leaders on Main Street have pressed City Hall to make investments in an effort to ensure it is competitive with outlying shopping, dining and entertainment districts like those at Kimball Junction. Small plazas could be built or existing ones redone and pedestrian improvements could be made. Businesses along Main Street support the proposal.
Meanwhile, the money could also pay for upgrades to the network of storm drains in Old Town as well as street improvements in the neighborhood. Conservation purchases, not identified as Election Day neared, could also be funded with money raised if the ballot measure passes.
The Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents the interests of the Main Street district, submitted a statement in favor of the ballot measure for a government-published voter guide. A critic of the increase, Park Meadows resident Bill McCullough, provided an opposition statement.
The alliance argues the tax allows City Hall to "recoup some of the expenses of basic municipal services provided to out-of-state visitors." It also says the increase will advance Parkites' goals of economic development, managed growth and ensuring a vibrant community.
McCullough, though, counters the supporters, contending that City Hall should not increase the tax in a difficult economy and must make budget tradeoffs like people do in their personal budgets. It also says the increase will impact Parkites since and people will "have an additional economic reason to not 'Buy Local" because sales taxes will be even higher in Park City than they are in the Snyderville Basin.