Park City Council discusses two options for dollar figure attached to Treasure bond
The Park City Council on Thursday discussed the dollar figure that will be attached to the Treasure bond, one of the first times the elected officials have talked in detail about the exact size of the measure to fund most of the $64 million acquisition of the prized acreage.
Nate Rockwood, the city’s capital budget, debts and grants manager, presented the City Councilors and Mayor Andy Beerman with two potential dollar amounts for the bond measure, which is slated to go before voters in November. One option, pegging the bond at $55 million, would require the city to shift $7.5 million earmarked to build plazas on the Brew Pub lot and Miners Park on Main Street, toward the acquisition, as well as $1.5 million currently set aside for open space.
By also delaying a handful of Old Town street and sidewalk projects, the city could lower the bond amount to $50.7 million, Rockwood told the Council. A four-year pushback of street replacements of Rossie Hill Drive and Coalition View Court, currently scheduled for this summer, would free up $1.7 million, while postponing related stormwater infrastructure replacement projects would add $500,000. Another $2.1 million would come from delaying a scheduled sidewalk replacement on lower Main Street four to five years.
A $55 million bond would increase taxes for a primary residence valued at $768,000 by $220 annually, according to the city. The $50.7 million option would cost the same residence $202. A bond of either amount would be repaid over 15 years.
Either figure would make it the largest-ever conservation bond in Park City, more than doubling the current highest one, a $25 million bond that funded the bulk of the Bonanza Flat acquisition.
The elected officials on Thursday appeared mostly satisfied with the prospect of either option. They’ve pledged since the announcement of the deal to find ways in the budget to pay for a chunk of the Treasure buyout in order to decrease the size of the bond.
City Councilor Steve Joyce, though, lobbied strongly in favor of the smaller bond, arguing that the measure has a better chance of passing if voters perceive that the city has done everything it can short of cutting the most critical projects to ease the taxpayer burden.
“I’m not really talking about the math of $18,” he said, referring to the difference in tax impact between the two options. “…It’s an element of trust in the people who are looking to spend the money.”
Beerman said he would be comfortable with the $55 million bond but that sacrificing projects to get to the smaller figure would “really send a message to the public” that the city sees acquiring Treasure as crucial.
The City Council has until late August to finalize the size of the bond, and the elected officials could settle on an amount other than the ones specified Thursday. The topic is expected to be a major element of the city’s budget talks in the coming months.
City Hall reached the deal with the Treasure partnership to acquire the land, which overlooks Old Town along the route of the Town Lift, in January. The Treasure partnership consists of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, both owning 50 percent stakes in the land. The partnership spent more than a decade in on-and-off discussions with the Park City Planning Commission about a proposed development of about 1 million square feet before reaching the buyout deal with City Hall.
The bond measure is likely to be the item on the November ballot that garners the most attention from Park City residents, as no county or municipal offices will be contested. If the measure fails, the Treasure partnership would retain ownership of the land and would be expected to pursue a scaled-back development on the acreage.
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