Park City guide to Treasure vote resembles pro-buyout talking points
October 16, 2018
A Park City-drafted informational guide about the Treasure ballot measure, designed to be unbiased, includes points that closely resemble the arguments made by the supporters of City Hall's planned acquisition of Treasure in a conservation deal.
The informational guide was sent to Park City residents and arrived in recent days. Some quickly raised questions about the language used in certain portions of the guide. One section in the guide, addressing the financials of the deal, is especially noteworthy as it describes that the ballot measure was put to voters "based upon the City's strong financial position."
The financial section of the guide outlines points that have been widely publicized by the supporters of the acquisition in the months since Park City leaders reached the agreement to acquire Treasure, located on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift, and then crafted the ballot measure. The Treasure price tag is $64 million with the ballot measure pegged at $48 million. A contribution of up to $3 million for an unrelated conservation deal in Thaynes Canyon, known as Snow Ranch Pasture, is included in the ballot measure.
The points include:
• City Hall's bond rating, described as the "highest available."
• City Hall's property-tax rate, which the guide says are "estimated to be" low compared to the rest of the state and the U.S.
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• much of City Hall's debt from previously successful ballot measures will be retired within five years
The guide also notes the makeup of Park City's property-tax base, which is weighted toward vacation homes and commercial properties that pay property taxes at a higher rate than owners of residences classified as primary homes. The guide says people who own homes classified as primary residences "pay only 15% of Park City's total property tax collections." It says the owners of properties classified as primary homes would pay an estimated $7.2 million of the $48 million attached to the ballot measure.
The supporters of the ballot measure have pressed points that are nearly identical to those listed in the informational guide. City Hall itself must remain unbiased in the issue. The supporters, though, have consistently spoken about the pending retirement of previous voter-approved tax increases for conservation acquisitions and the makeup of the property-tax base that puts much of the burden on those who own vacation homes and commercial properties as compared to the owners of residences classified as primary.
The guide, meanwhile, includes arguments in support of and in opposition to the ballot measure. The arguments were previously publicized. Cindy Matsumoto, who is a former member of the Park City Council, drafted the argument in favor of the ballot measure while Stephen Streamer, a Park Meadows resident, wrote the argument in opposition.
The guide also outlines the mechanics of the election and provides details about the increase in property taxes should the ballot measure be successful. The ballot measure's language is also published in the guide.
The guide arrived just before ballots are scheduled to be mailed to registered voters.