Advocates support tax proposals at Project for Deeper Understanding forum
Summit County and Park City Municipal officials are not planning to urbanize the area any more than it already is to accommodate traffic. But, officials do want to increase capacity in the main corridors that lead into Park City, according to Alfred Knotts, Park City’s transportation planning manager.
Knotts and Caroline Ferris, Summit County’s regional transportation planning director, outlined the county and city’s transportation planning initiatives on Thursday during the Project for Deeper Understanding’s forum. About 20 people attended, including Summit County Manager Tom Fisher and Bob Richer.
The other panelists were: Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber Bureau; Becky Kearns, president of Resort Banking Division for Zions Bank; Summit County Council Chair Roger Armstrong and Park City Council member Tim Henney. Malone and Kearns spoke in favor of the two tax proposals on the ballot to support the initiatives.
Revenues could be used to implement traffic mitigation projects such as dedicated transit lanes on State Roads 224 and 248, construction of park-and-ride lots, expanded transit service to the eastern part of the county and intersection improvements.
“It’s kind of unusual for a business organization to line up for as an advocacy group for a tax proposal,” Malone said. “But we are not immune from the same conversations the county and the city has as it relates to traffic.”
The Mass Transit Tax and the county-wide tax option that are up for consideration would each add .25 percent, or 50 cents for every $100 spent, to the countywide sales and use tax. It would not apply to food items or gas and would be primarily collected from tourists in Park City. If the two sales taxes are approved, it would raise the rates to 8.45 in Park City and 6.85 in the county.
“We saw what we thought was a fair and equitable way to cover these costs. We see the visitor has skin in the game, but we do as well,” Malone said. “There was a lot of thought behind these ideas and the response has been amazing. We have gone out as the advocacy group and we have had people from all types of businesses who have stepped up to the table.”
Armstrong said council members are constantly approached by residents asking “what are you going to do about transportation?” He said council members and staffers identified the sales taxes as an appropriate avenue to solve some of the problems.
“By imposing a sales tax, and it’s a light one, it leaves our tax rate below everyone else around us,” Armstrong said. “It keeps us competitive and doesn’t fall too much on our residents.”
Several in attendance expressed support for the initiatives and projects, with many saying they will vote in support of Propositions 9 and 10.
Dave Hedderly Smith, who lives in Park City, said he will vote for the propositions. However, he also suggested officials consider other measures, such as the implementation of paid parking.
“I think you are on the right track, but you have to go that way. We don’t come into Park City anymore because of the traffic, but I will certainly vote for your propositions,” Hedderly Smith said.
Matt Lindon, who lives in Silver Springs, said he is also supporting the propositions. Lindon said the county and city have issues that need to be addressed and funded. However, Lindon said some key players appear to be missing from the conversations.
“I like the fact that they are not widening roads for anything but transit lanes, which makes a lot of sense,” Lindon said. “But I see some of the big players, such as the resorts, that should also be involved financially to help in the situation that they have created.
“I’d like to see them in these kinds of meetings,” he said. “We need the stick-and-the-carrot approach and I think that they have delved into the toolboxes and they are using everything out there.”
Summit County voters should anticipate receiving their mail-in ballots shortly after Oct. 18. The return ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 7, the day before the General Election.
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Planning Commissioners said the Promontory decision would have to wait until the County Council decides a related case, as early as August.