City Hall committee appointed to assist in spending millions on land buys
February 12, 2013
A City Hall committee has been appointed to assist as Park City leaders decide how to spend what is expected to be millions of dollars on conservation purchases in the coming years, agreeing on a combination of representatives from civic groups, regular Parkites and municipal figures.
The Park City Council at a recent meeting made the appointments to the fourth iteration of a panel known as the Citizens Open Space Advisory Committee. The panel’s chief role is considering conservation purchases and then making recommendations to the elected officials.
The open space committee, frequently referred to in City Hall circles by the acronym COSAC, conducts much of its business in closed-door meetings. State law allows a government body to meet in closed sessions when land buys are considered. The thinking is a government body would not want parcels and prices discussed openly since others in the market would have those details as they are crafting offers for the same land.
The combination of civic groups and Parkites closely resembles the makeup of the past open space committees seated in Park City. Leaders have used a panel like the one recently named since the late 1990s, the first time voters in Park City approved a ballot measure to raise funds for conservation purchases.
The people appointed representing civic groups and City Hall panels that have standing spots on the open space committee are:
Five other people were appointed as at-large members of the panel. They are: Tim Henney, Cara Goodman, Meg Ryan, Jim Doilney and Judy Hanley. The City Council also named a list alternates from the civic groups, the City Hall panels and the at-large members.
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The City Council did not discuss the appointments extensively before they were approved. Park City early in the year accepted applications from people seeking the at-large spots and nomination from the groups with standing spots. Terms are for three years. The first meeting of the committee has not been scheduled.
The appointments were made three months after Park City voters approved a slight increase to a portion of the overall sales tax charged in Park City. The increase was approved with a little less than 59 percent of the voters casting ballots in favor of the measure.
The portion of the sales tax that will increase is known as the resort communities sales and use tax. The voters agreed to an increase from 1.1 percent to 1.6 percent. City Hall has said the increase will amount to another 50 cents in sales taxes on a $100 purchase. The increased rate will be collected starting on April 1. The tax is paid on all purchases inside Park City except those of unprepared foods, typically those sold at grocery stores.
City Hall plans to spend the money raised through the increase on conservation purchases, improvements along Main Street and upgrades to Old Town streets and storm drains.
Officials anticipate raising $15 million for conservation purchases in the first five years the higher tax rate is in effect. The $15 million would come from a combination of cash and bonds issued against future sales tax revenues.
It is not known what sort of parcels might be available for conservation purchases. In the early years of City Hall’s well-regarded conservation program, officials successfully negotiated deals for large tracts of land along the S.R. 224 entryway and in Round Valley. Leaders have said for some time, though, that it has become more difficult to negotiate deals for expansive parcels as land values have increased.