County Watch |

County Watch

Compiled by Patrick Parkinson

With help from the Summit County Commission the Boy Scouts of America could save $80,000 on a recent purchase of land that was the site of a wildfire in the Uinta Mountains in 2002.

Scouts camping in the area are blamed for starting the East Fork Fire, which consumed almost 15,000 acres on the North Slope. The BSA is now trying to refinance its purchase of property the organization bought in the area from the state of Utah in order to operate its East Fork of the Bear summer camp.

"They burned it all down now they’re getting a good deal on it," Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott joked.

Assistance from Summit County with so-called conduit financing allows the Boy Scouts to enjoy at tax break on the deal.

"The governmental entity has no liability for the debt," said Jon Bronson, who is the county’s financial adviser. "It’s just to facilitate a tax exemption for [the Scouts] We can engineer to eliminate all of the financial risks."

While the Boy Scouts, a non-profit organization, enjoys exemptions from property and income taxes, to receive tax breaks to refinance the land purchase, the organization must work with Summit County, said Brian Sheets, who is the chief financial officer for the BSA’s Great Salt Lake Council.

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"It’s in Summit County and it serves the youth in Summit County," Sheets said. "It seemed to be a good fit."

The Summit County Commission agreed to the conduit financing by recently authorizing the issuance of $2.3 million worth of bonds.

"It doesn’t affect your bond rating at all," Bronson told commissioners.

Meanwhile, the purchase of the roughly 584-acre Boy Scout camp hasn’t resulted in the settlement of lawsuits that sought nearly $14 million from the Scouts, Sheets said.

Prosecutors say five Boy Scouts from Troop 149, sponsored by the Peoa Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, built a campfire that eventually grew into the East Fork blaze.

The federal government and state officials have sued the Boy Scouts to recover fire-suppression costs.

"The fire, at least from my discussion, is pretty much irrelevant to that transaction," Sheets said.

People’s Health Center

The Summit County Health Department is considering cooperating with the People’s Health Center to construct a clinic at Quinn’s Junction.

"There have been over 300 patient visits to the People’s Health Clinic in 2006," said Parkite Mike Andrews, a spokesman for the non-profit facility. "Most of them are out of the Park City-Summit County area."

Patients who cannot be treated at the Summit County Health Department, who often lack insurance, are referred to the People’s Health Center, according to Steve Jenkins, director of the Summit County Health Department.

Housing both facilities in a 15,000-square-foot facility at Quinn’s Junction would reduce travel time for patients significantly, Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said.

Intermountain Health Care has promised to reserve space for the health department and People’s Health Center at a hospital campus planned at Quinn’s Junction, Andrews said.

"We can create, in effect, a one-stop shop for community health," Andrews said. "We have a unique opportunity to bring a nonprofit and the county government together in a joint effort."

Summit County is reportedly the largest contributor of the five governmental entities that help support the People’s Health Center that also include, Park City, Midway, Wasatch County and Heber.

Because the health department doesn’t offer primary care, Jenkins insists services the county provides wouldn’t overlap with the People’s Health Center.

"We pick up on other health needs," Andrews said.

The People’s Health Center, which has an annual operating budget of roughly $300,000, currently is housed in rented space in Park City.

"We have to move forward because we’re out of space," Andrews said.

Clock tower plan panned

Planning commissioners weren’t pleased with a proposal from developers at Kimball Junction to construct a roughly 65-foot clock tower near Redstone Towne Center.

Concerned about the vitality of retailers who lease space at Newpark Town Center, an "iconic structure" is needed to attract customers, developers say.

"We’re asking people to come off of a highway where they really can’t see you," said Terri Sturm, a Las Vegas developer contemplating constructing commercial property at Newpark. "We’ve got a few pretty major issues that we need to overcome For retail to be successful, you need to have visibility and accessibility."

To attract Kimball Junction clientele requires a focal point, Newpark developer Jim Doilney said.

But 65 feet is too high, Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner Kathy Kinsman said.

"I definitely don’t like the clock tower," Kinsman said. "I don’t want it drawing [eyes] from [Interstate 80] and I don’t even want it drawing it from Kimball Junction."

According to Basin Planning Commission chairman Bruce Taylor, "The 65-foot clock tower has been thrown out there, it hasn’t been embraced yet."

"We certainly don’t want a Space Needle in the middle of Swaner," Taylor said.

Planning Commissioner Claudia McMullin, however, says she "may not be game for the clock tower, but I’m game for something."

"It becomes part of the entry feature into the project to let people know there is something down there," Sturm said.