Efforts to improve Francis’ tax base delayed
November 20, 2009
Lee Snelgrove, the new mayor-elect of Francis, said Wednesday that his town’s efforts to add more commercial space to their skyline have stalled.
Last March, then-mayor John Bergen bragged that two business-park strips were under development: one on S.R. 32 heading toward Kamas, and one near the cemetery and new church. Both were to be tied to housing developments.
The one on S.R. 32 was to have a gas station and several leaseable spaces similar to the complex in Kamas in which the liquor store is located. The other was going to be Western-themed and host an ice cream parlor.
The motivation for the projects was to have more taxable businesses, Bergen explained. Francis is too residential for its own good, and the businesses that exist there are largely home-based.
An increased tax base is the only way to continue providing necessary services such as water and sewer lines without raising taxes, Snelgrove explained.
Unfortunately, due to economic pressures, the gas station development is in receivership and the other never got started.
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"Whenever you think you’ve got commercial coming in, and it’s obviously something we’re in need of it is a disappointment when it falters," Snelgrove said. "We need it to develop our community."
The mayor said he originally moved to Francis because he wanted to live in a small town. He doesn’t want to change that; but an additional 300 people have moved in since then and the community needs to upgrade.
For example, the city offices still operate out of a trailer. Snelgrove said it’s hard to impress business owners when they visit to check out his city and he has to meet with them in such rudimentary conditions.
The residents know their community needs more businesses, but there isn’t a consensus on what kinds. Many necessities are available just a few minutes away in Kamas or Park City, so merchants that service the local population can’t survive, he said.
Snelgrove said he honestly isn’t sure what direction the people of Francis would like to see their community go in. Voter participation in the last election was poor and he ran unopposed for mayor.
The ideal situation would be to get some of the successful home-based businesses into commercial buildings, he said.
Friends in Woodland have talked to him about these issues as their community considers incorporation.
"They ask, ‘Are you sorry Francis is a town?’ No, I’m not sorry, but we’ve been through this struggle for years," Snelgrove said.