East Side mayors pan $10 increase
In a testy exchange with his colleagues, Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said he does not trust some officials in Park City to spend revenue generated by a tax hike being contemplated in the county.
This summer, the government could begin charging an additional $10 per year to register a vehicle. The County Commission is expected to approve a proposal today that could allow the new fee to take effect July 1.
"Even though there are some unanswered questions about how this program may work, we think that we have enough information," Summit County Public Works Administrator Kevin Callahan said, adding that the fee could generate $500,000 per year for purchasing rights-of-way.
Much of the funding would likely be used for corridor planning or to purchase land for constructing highways in western Summit County.
"The vast majority of people in this county utilize that area at one time or another," Callahan said.
Mayors on the East Side, however, may want the money spent other ways, Woolstenhulme said.
Last week, Park City was the only municipality that had formally responded to a request from the county for input about the $10 fee, Callahan said.
"If you handed [this report] to the other five mayors and asked them to buy into it, they’d likely tell you where to go," Woolstehulme bluntly told Callahan while reading Park City’s response. "[Park City has] already decided how it’s going to be divided up, how it’s going to be spent, where it’s going to be spent if you’re going to divide things up according to their figures, you’re going to get taken to the cleaners."
Meanwhile, Summit County hasn’t discussed the fee increase with officials in Coalville, Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt said, adding, "it certainly sounds like a plan that’s going to benefit Park City and Snyderville Basin, and the outlying communities, they’re not going to get their fair share of the money."
"[Callahan] hasn’t said one word to me," Schmidt said. "It’s probably because he knows that I don’t think that it’s going to benefit the people of Coalville."
North Summit residents should not be taxed for road expansion at Kimball Junction, the mayor added.
"I lived back East and the traffic at Kimball Junction is not really terrible. They don’t know what a traffic jam is," said Schmidt, a former resident of Maryland. "If that traffic congestion at Kimball Junction is that bad, then maybe they need to raise the taxes to take care of those repairs over in the Snyderville Basin and Park City area."
Kamas Mayor Lewis Marchant agrees.
"I don’t see it being much benefit to us," Marchant said. "I don’t see that most of the smaller communities in the county receive much benefit from it."
Callahan claims he has discussed the proposal with Schmidt, Marchant and Oakley Mayor Blake Frazier.
"It can’t be used on any road maintenance or anything like that and that’s what most of us need," Marchant said, adding that the county has disseminated misinformation about the fee hike.
"I don’t feel like I got totally accurate information about how the thing could be used and what the county was looking at," Marchant said.
If a plan is approved this week to levy the $10 fee in July, a so-called Council of Governments (COG), comprised of the Summit County Commission and the mayors of Henefer, Coalville, Oakley, Kamas, Francis and Park City would need to be formed to make recommendations to the county about which projects should receive funding, County Chief Civil Deputy Attorney David Thomas said.
"I would like to think that the county would like to make sure we were on track with [the COG] before we went through with it," Marchant said.
Schmidt hasn’t been asked to sit on the council, the Coalville mayor said.
"Sometimes you’ve got to question, is it going to be 10 bucks in Summit County that’s just going to go over to the Snyderville Basin, or is the money going to get spread around the county?" Schmidt said.
Meanwhile, Woolstenhulme asked "why have we gone to Park City and not included these other guys in our preliminary discussion?"
"[Park City] responded in a professional manner, they put it on their agenda and they’ve written a staff report," Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer responded, adding that "it’s not Kevin’s fault nor is it Park City’s fault" that cities on the East Side did not respond.
Callahan cautioned the eastsiders not to shortsightedly reject the plan.
"It’s intended to forestall future transportation problems by either acquiring land or doing studies for land acquisition," he said. "Five years into the future, I think the Kamas area is going to be facing a significant amount of growth and development and there will be different transportation needs over there."
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