Summit County mayors balk at transportation levy
June 23, 2015
Most Summit County’s leaders say they aren’t ready to ask voters to increase the local sales tax to pay for transportation projects.
Representatives from the Summit County Council met with several mayors from the county’s municipalities Monday night to discuss presenting the county-wide option to voters during the November municipal elections. County leaders said they would prefer to leave it off the ballot at this time.
Park City Mayor Jack Thomas said he wants to "give it a closer look" after county and city officials rework their transportation plans to better understand the community benefits.
"Our approach is to follow rather than lead, which is unusual for Park City," Thomas said at the Summit County Council of Governments meeting.
A few of the mayors, while not supporting the option now, want to revisit it later.
Henefer Mayor Randy Ovard said he’s reluctant to put the measure on the upcoming ballot, but he does not oppose it.
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"We don’t have a problem with it, we have a problem with the timing," Ovard said. "If you wait for a General Election, you’ll have a better shot at it."
Kamas Mayor Lew Marchant has repeatedly said his municipality would benefit directly from the funds generated from a sales tax increase.
"The money we get doesn’t take care of our roads," Marchant said during the meeting. "We are quite favorable toward it, but I don’t think this is a wise time to have it with municipal elections."
Municipal elections typically draw a much smaller turnout than presidential year ones.
Matt Leavitt, Summit County accountant, introduced the option of raising funds for local transportation projects during the Council of Governments meeting last month.
Since then, Oakley City leaders decided they would not support the increase. Henefer city officials will have the same conversation at their next meeting to address the resolution on Tuesday, July 7 at 7 p.m. at the Henefer city offices, 150 W, Center St.
Francis Mayor Lee Snelgrove didn’t indicate whether Francis’ city council would support the measure.
The local sales tax option became available last January after Utah lawmakers approved a two-part bill that enables local jurisdictions to levy a .25 percent increase on the local sales tax for goods and services if approved by voters. It also raises the gas tax.
The funds would be redistributed county wide for transportation projects, with .10 percent going to the six municipalities and the unincorporated areas of Summit County, .10 percent going to the transit districts in the Basin and Park City and .05 percent going to the county. The percentage distributed toward the municipalities is subject to a distribution formula based on population and point of sale.
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