City Hall considers $20M land bond |

City Hall considers $20M land bond

City Hall is close to deciding whether to place an open-space measure on the November ballot, one potentially as valuable as the government’s first two land bonds combined.

Formalized discussions started last week, with staffers approaching the Park City Council with an idea to place a $20 million bond measure on the November ballot. The City Councilors seemed interested but were not scheduled to make a decision.

Mayor Dana Williams and the City Council are tentatively scheduled to decide on Aug. 17.

According to a report by Myles Rademan, City Hall’s Public Affairs director, if a $20 million bond were approved, someone owning a $500,000 primary residence could pay an extra $75.96 per year. Someone owning a vacation home or a commercial property of the same value could pay an additional $130.05 annually, according to the government’s calculations.

Rademan acknowledges that the numbers are preliminary, however. He expects that they will be finalized before the Aug. 17 City Council meeting and be made public at the start of next week.

Voters in Park City have twice overwhelmingly approved open-space bonds, the first for $10 million in 1998 and the second for $10 million in 2002, and Parkites for more than a decade have seen themselves as supporters of City Hall’s heralded open-space program.

If a $20 million open-space bond passes, the combined tax burden for the three bonds and a recreation bond, which was previously approved by voters, is estimated to be $221.30 each year on a $500,000 primary residence and an estimated $450.15 per year on a $500,000 vacation home or commercial property, according to Rademan’s report.

The bonds, though, would expire at different times, depending on when City Hall sells them, meaning that the tax burden would change through the years. The existing debt lasts until 2019, according to City Hall.

Rademan says that another $20 million could be spent smartly but he acknowledges that Parkites may question the sum.

"I understand it’s $20 million. Now we’re talking about real money," he says, adding, "I think people see the worth of what we’ve done."

The two previous open-space bonds proved wildly popular with voters, with both passing with at least 78 percent support, some of the highest tallies in the nation, City Hall says.

Parkites have long seen themselves as supporters of City Hall’s open-space program, which stretches since the 1980s and has included notable purchases such as the McPolin Farm.

But by the late 1990s, funds to purchase land were dwindling, prompting the government to approach voters with the first $10 million bond in 1998.

With the $20 million in bonds that have been approved, the government has acquired about 850 acres of land, the largest being a 280-acre swatch of Round Valley that cost a little more than $5.5 million in 2001.

Other notable properties purchased with bond money include the Richards Ranch along the S.R. 224 entryway and the westernmost stretch of the Rail Trail.

City Hall has spent a little less than $17.5 million of the $20 million that voters have authorized. About 100 acres of federal land that City Hall covets, located at Gambel Oak, could cost another $1.9 million, should Congress and President George W. Bush approve the deal.

Land prices in the Park City area have risen quickly and officials have complained that it is more difficult to purchase open space in a hot real-estate market.

"I realize that $10 million probably won’t buy that much," Rademan says, explaining the $20 million value of the proposed bond.

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