Park City leaders urged to add other land to Treasure vote
Park City leaders on Thursday continued to discuss the details of what will be, by a wide margin, the largest-ever open space ballot measure but were not prepared to render a crucial decision about the precise dollar figure that will be sought from voters in November.
Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council held another discussion about the ballot measure that would fund most of the cost of a $64 million acquisition of the Treasure land on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.
In recent days, though, there has been a push to add an unrelated conservation deal to the ballot measure. The elected officials over the past week have mulled increasing a ballot measure by $3 million to fund 50 percent of an agreement reached by the not-for-profit Utah Open Lands to preserve a 19-acre parcel of land in Thaynes Canyon called Snow Ranch Pastures.
The City Council on Thursday held its first formal discussion about the possibility of expanding the ballot measure to include additional monies for Snow Ranch Pastures. Officials until the last week intended to ask voters to approve a ballot measure pegged at $50.7 million to fund the majority of the Treasure deal. They are now considering a $53.7 million ballot measure to combine the Treasure deal with the 50 percent contribution to Snow Ranch Pastures or the lower figure attached to the Treasure deal on its own.
The elected officials indicated they wanted to consider the addition of the $3 million over the next several weeks before making a decision. City Hall staffers in that time will consider options to reduce the cost, including earmarking revenues from a portion of sales taxes that can be put toward the acquisition of open space. The mayor urged the staffers to “whittle away” at the price as he said he wants options presented.
A crowd of supporters of the Treasure deal was in attendance on Thursday, indicating they supported expanding the ballot measure to include the other land.
“Be courageous. Be bold,” said Bob Richer, a Snyderville Basin resident who previously held elected office in Park City and Summit County.
John Stafsholt, an Old Town resident who supports the acquisition of Treasure, said adding the other land is beneficial and turns the ballot measure into “more of a community bond.”
Brian Van Hecke, another Old Town resident and supporter of the Treasure deal, agreed with the concept of including the Snow Ranch Pastures land in a ballot measure.
“Such an obvious yes,” he said.
City Hall says a $50.7 million sum, the figure under consideration for the Treasure ballot measure prior to the discussions about adding the other land, would cost the owner of a property classified as primary residence with an assessed value of $799,214 an estimated additional $206 annually over the course of a 15-year repayment of the bond. The owner of a vacation home or commercial property with the same assessed value would pay an estimated additional $375 annually over the 15 years.
The numbers attached to a $53.7 million ballot measure are $220 annually on a primary residence and $399 each year for a vacation home or commercial property with an assessed value of $799,214.
Clarification: The City Council is also considering another option to fund up to 50 percent of the Snow Ranch Pastures agreement within the Treasure bond. According to a staff report, the elected officials could choose to allocate open space funds from a voter-approved sales tax toward the purchase of the properties. The bond would be pegged at $50.7 million in that scenario.
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