City Hall wants $20M for open space
Parkites in November will decide whether City Hall will pump another $20 million into its vaunted open-space program.
The Park City Council on Thursday night, with nominal discussion but some support from a few Parkites who attended the meeting, unanimously agreed to put a bond measure to voters on Nov. 7.
The $20 million figure is double the amount of each of Park City’s two previous open-space bonds. Voters overwhelmingly supported the two $10 million ballot measures, one in 1998 and the other in 2002, with each passing with at least 78 percent of the vote.
"Open space has been very popular in Park City," Myles Rademan, City Hall’s Public Affairs director, who directs the government’s open-space program, said before the City Council decided.
If the ballot measure passes, someone owning a primary residence would pay about an extra $24.43 per year for each $100,000 of assessed value. People having a vacation home or a commercial property would pay about $44.41 more each year.
The bonds would be paid off within 21 years of their issuance.
Combined with the previous $20 million in open-space bonds, the tax burden would be the greatest between 2008 and 2015, when someone owning a primary residence would pay $48.74 for each $100,000 of value and someone with a vacation home or commercial property would pay $88.62 per each $100,000.
The Thursday decision was expected for some time. There has been talk about asking voters to approve a third bond for several months and there has not been organized opposition to the idea.
The government says that it is running out of money from the first two bonds and to continue buying open space an infusion of money is needed. In a report submitted to Mayor Dana Williams and the City Council, Rademan says that about $1 million remains from the previous bonds.
Rademan told the City Council that it is more expensive to purchase open space now than before and he has said that the $20 million is desired so City Hall has more spending power.
"Prices have gone up appreciably. People have asked for more money," Rademan said.
A few people in the crowd told the City Council that they support the ballot measure, including Parkite Gordon Strachan, who said other cities he visits did not preserve as much land and have suffered since.
In an interview after the meeting, the mayor refused to handicap the chances of the bond on Election Day.
"I hope it does (pass). As a homeowner in town, I certainly don’t have an issue about my taxes being raised," Williams said. "I think the community would support it."
Joe Kernan, a City Councilman, questioned whether the ballot language voters will see in November should explicitly note that people voting ‘Yea’ are supporting a tax increase. The other officials, though, countered that publicity will ensure that people realize the ramifications of voting for the bond.
Candy Erickson, a City Councilor, said she hoped that voters in Park City go to the polls in high numbers in November, which has not been the case in recent elections.
Park City’s open-space program is widely seen as a trailblazer in Utah, stretching from since before the first bond passed.
With money from the first two bonds, City Hall has acquired about 850 acres of land, including large swaths of Round Valley and the Richards Ranch, about 20 acres of high-profile land on the city’s S.R. 224 entryway.
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