Help City Hall decide how to spend conservation dollars
January 4, 2013
Park City is preparing to seat a panel to assist as conservation purchases are considered, a result of voters in November approving a sales-tax ballot measure that will provide funding for the acquisitions.
City Hall has employed a similar strategy for more than a decade, since voters approved the first conservation ballot measure in the late 1990s. The panel, which is known as the Citizens Open Space Advisory Committee, crafts recommendations for conservation purchases that are then forwarded to the mayor and Park City Council. The elected officials are not bound by the recommendations.
The Citizens Open Space Advisory Committee is expected to consist of representatives from seven stakeholder groups and five Parkites chosen in an at-large fashion.
Park City is accepting applications from people interested in the at-large positions. Terms are for three years. Someone must live within the Park City limits to hold one of the at-large positions.
The stakeholder groups will nominate their own representatives. The groups that will be included on the panel are:
The City Council is scheduled to make the appointments at a meeting on Feb. 7. Previous Citizens Open Space Advisory Committees conducted their highest-profile work in closed-door sessions, something that state law allows since property acquisition is under discussion. The panel receives little publicity until an acquisition is announced.
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The ballot measure approved by Park City voters on Election Day will provide ongoing funding for conservation purchases. It is a different mechanism than City Hall has employed in the past. Voters previously approved bond measures for conservation purchases, which are paid back through an increase in property taxes. The November vote dealt with sales taxes instead of property taxes.
The voters agreed to slightly increase a portion of the overall sales tax paid in Park City known as the resort communities sales and use tax. It is charged on purchases inside the city other than those of unprepared foods, which are generally those sold in grocery stores.
The higher rate goes into effect on April 1. The money raised from the increase will be put toward Main Street improvements and upgrades to Old Town storm drains and streets in addition to the conservation purchases.
City Hall currently anticipates spending $15 million over 10 years on conservation purchases funded by the increase in the sales tax. Officials over the years have spent heavily on land along the S.R. 224 and S.R. 248 entryways, a strategy to meant to protect a scenic corridor into and out of Park City.
It is difficult to predict what sort of acquisitions could be possible with the new funding source. There is believed to be a dwindling number of expansive parcels available inside or just outside of the Park City limits. Prices have been a hindrance as well.
The Citizens Open Space Advisory Committee will likely begin meeting in late February, probably on a monthly or bimonthly basis, City Hall said in a release seeking applications.
Applications are available from the municipal government by contacting Jody Morrison, 615-5186 or email@example.com. Applications need to be submitted to Heinrich Deters, who manages trails and open space projects for City Hall, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at his office at the Marsac Building. The deadline is Jan. 25 at 4 p.m.