Cost to drive could increase
March 15, 2006
The cost to drive in Summit County this summer could increase.
To help fund road improvements, the County Commission in July could require motorists to pay $10 more per year to register their vehicles. With officials anticipating almost $100 million worth of traffic improvements at Kimball Junction in the next 25 years, the new fee could generate $350,000 annually for securing land for road construction.
The Legislature paved the way in 2005 for counties to pass on to drivers the costs for purchasing land for highway corridors, said David Thomas, Summit County’s chief deputy civil attorney.
Thomas is also a state senator for Davis and Weber counties.
"The whole intent behind this was to preserve corridors now before they are impacted by development," Thomas said.
To help governments acquire rights of way, Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, sponsored a bill last year that allows the $10 levy.
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But if the new fee is approved before an April 1 deadline, lots of the money collected in Summit County could go to projects outside of Snyderville, Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said.
"I’m questionable on that $10 license fee because all that money goes to the state, and then they reallocate it," Woolstenhulme said.
Lawmakers haven’t determined how much the Utah Department of Transportation will receive for administering the Local Transportation Corridor Preservation Fund, Thomas said.
Besides state officials, mayors from the county’s six municipalities can also weigh in on how the license-fee revenue is spent, Woolstenhulme added.
"We’re getting a lot of growth [in eastern Summit County] and I think that those [mayors] are going to be looking out for their own areas," Woolstenhulme said. "It’s not going to be all a bed of roses for everybody."
A so-called Council of Governments (COG), comprised of the Summit County Commission and the mayors of Henefer, Coalville, Oakley, Kamas, Francis and Park City would need to be formed to make recommendations about how funding should be divvied locally, Thomas said.
"Because UDOT oversees it, UDOT could have veto [but] they’ve said that they’re going to stick with what the COG and [Summit County Commission] say," Thomas said.
According to Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott, Killpack’s "lousy legislation" gives UDOT too much power.
"I don’t like it," Elliott said.
But commercial activity at Kimball Junction provides the county’s "economic engine" and obtaining money for improving those roads tops commissioners’ wish lists, County Commissioner Bob Richer said.
"I would like to see us move forward, I think that we can work with all of the mayors and all of our communities," Richer said.
But Park City officials will likely scrutinize how the $10 fee is spent, Summit County Public Works Administrator Kevin Callahan said.
"Yet, they stand to benefit more than any of them," Woolstenhulme responded. "[Park City] better figure it out."
Callahan conceded, however, that only portions of Snyderville have been studied and congestion could exist on other highways in Summit County.
"On one hand, we don’t want to forego the opportunity to get the funding. On the other hand, we don’t want to rush to the altar with everybody and then find out that we don’t have agreement," Callahan said.
Commissioners expect to approve the fee by April 1 and begin collecting an extra $10 on motor vehicle registrations July 1.
"If we don’t make that deadline we don’t do it until July 1 of ’07," Callahan said, adding that no counties have implemented the fee program.
Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt couldn’t comment when asked about the fee on Tuesday.
The Park City Council is scheduled to discuss the matter March 23.