Park City leans toward $50.7 million Treasure bond | ParkRecord.com

Park City leans toward $50.7 million Treasure bond

A slight majority of Park City Councilors on Thursday evening appeared to support attaching the lower of two potential dollar figures to the ballot measure needed to fund most of the cost of acquiring Treasure in a conservation deal, a display of disagreement among the elected officials about the financing just two weeks before a final figure could be crafted.

The meeting on Thursday was critical since the City Council is scheduled to adopt the budget on June 21, and there is not a scheduled meeting next week. The elected officials do not need to set the amount of the ballot measure as they adopt the budget, but it has seemed likely for months that they would identify the figure or provide a clear indication of the number by the end of the budget talks.

The ballot measure's dollar figure does not need to be finalized until the end of August. The elected officials are using the budget talks to whittle down the amount that will be sought from voters when they decide whether to approve or reject a bond necessary for the acquisition. Mayor Andy Beerman and the City Councilors have discussed a range of potential cuts to capital projects as a means to free up funding for the Treasure deal, which is priced at $64 million.

The majority of City Councilors — Steve Joyce, Lynn Ware Peek and Tim Henney — appeared to support a ballot measure pegged at $50.7 million while the other two City Councilors — Nann Worel and Becca Gerber — seemed to lean toward a $53 million figure. Officials had been widely discussing a range of between $50 million and $55 million, and the meeting on Thursday served to further narrow the figures.

It would be, by a wide margin, the largest-ever City Hall conservation bond at either figure. The lower figure of $50.7 million is more than twice the $25 million number attached to the ballot measure passed to finance most of the cost of the Bonanza Flat acquisition, the current record holder.

The elected officials discussed the ramifications of both of the figures on City Hall's plans for capital projects like road improvements in Old Town. Officials are considering delaying certain projects, perhaps by five to seven years, to free up funding for the Treasure deal. They include a plaza in the Main Street core, roadwork in Old Town that is part of City Hall's long-running efforts to improve the neighborhood and Main Street sidewalk improvements.

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Joyce said City Hall should demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice as it asks voters to approve the ballot measure, while Henney said he is not concerned about delaying projects for up to seven years since there is lots of construction in Old Town already. Worel wanted to keep some of the Old Town projects intact, while Gerber questioned whether the Old Town projects will increase in cost if they are pushed back.

The City Council held a brief hearing, listening to comments from a supporter of the ballot measure, Old Town resident John Stafsholt. He said the figure should be set at the lower number. He said delaying improvements in Old Town comes at the expense of the neighborhood, showing a sacrifice there. The opposition to the Treasure development proposal has been centered in Old Town.

"Generally, the lower the better," Stafsholt said.

City Hall projects a successful $50.7 million ballot measure would cost the owner of a primary residence valued at $768,000 another $202 per year over the course of a 15-year bond repayment. The owner of a vacation home or commercial property valued at $768,000 would pay an additional $367 annually during the 15-year repayment, according to the City Hall projections.

The Treasure land is located on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Treasure partnership, involving the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, owns the land. The partnership spent years in talks with the Park City Planning Commission about a development proposal of upward of 1 million square feet, encountering opposition on issues like traffic and the overall size of the proposal. City Hall reached the agreement to acquire the land as it appeared the Planning Commission was preparing to cast a vote.