Mayors dispute vehicle tax
Ryan Summerlin February 22, 2013
Residents on the East Side of Summit County are paying a tax but are not receiving any benefits in return, according to a group of mayors representing Henefer, Coalville and Kamas.
The Local Corridor Preservation Fund tax requires Summit County vehicle owners to pay $10 per vehicle which is then used for highway construction and improvements alongside those roadways.
Summit County council member Dave Ure summed up their complaints saying, "The mayors are not happy about the tax because they are so limited in the ability to use the money in their municipalities."
According to Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt, since there is very little new development on the East Side, they have no use for the funds. "And I don’t know that if we had a big development come in that it wouldn’t be covered in the development agreement," he said.
Furthermore, Schmidt said, they had little control over where future developers might want to build.
"I don’t know if we have all the answers, and that we should just go around buying up corridors just to buy them up," he said. "You could spend millions of dollars on corridors that you never needed to buy because you were assuming that’s where development pressure is going to go."
Kamas Mayor Lewis Marchant said there is no place in Kamas where they can use the funding either.
"If we have a subdivision coming in, we require the developer to put the roads in, so there is no place in Kamas where the funding is needed," he said.
Councilmember Roger Armstrong said that he thought it was a mistake not to plan for future growth.
"I think other communities need to anticipate that they are going to grow and anticipate that growth to ensure infrastructure doesn’t grow so tightly around traffic corridors that they can’t really address traffic issues when they arise. And that’s precisely what these funds would allow them to do," he said.
When the bill was first passed by the Utah Legislature in 2005, the state said it would match the funds collected by the county.
"The state has never owned up to their share of the contract, though, so it’s always been the county’s money that is used," Councilmember Dave Ure said. "The state collects the money for us, and then they hold it and we have to apply for it to get it back."
Schmidt said the state has "abdicated its responsibility."
Ure added that another complaint the East Side mayors have concerning the funding is that the county never officially notified them of application closing dates.
"I think they have a legitimate reason to be upset. I support the mayors on this. The county did not send out notices as to when the application date was closing," he said.
Schmidt said Coalville officials weren’t notified of the deadline until the day before the application was due.
"It made it impossible for Coalville to fill out an application. I would have had to pull an all-nighter to get an application together, and I’m not sure it would have been a quality application," he said.
Consequently, the application deadline was extended an additional 30 days, to March 21.
"So we’re working right now to see if there is anything at all that we could put these funds into," Schmidt said.
Schmidt added that the other concerns will likely be re-evaluated and addressed at the next Summit County Council of Government meeting on April 15.
"I think we’re going to discuss the need for the tax, whether it’s a prudent tax and has value for the whole county at large, or whether its something that’s going to only benefit the West Side of the county," he said.