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County Watch

Compiled by Patrick Parkinson

Hoping to convince mayors in six cities in Summit County to support the plan, county commissioners will meet Wednesday with community leaders to discuss a $10 tax hike county officials want levied in July.

Summit County Public Works Administrator Kevin Callahan says charging residents an additional $10 to register their cars could provide county officials $10 million over the next 20 years to buy rights-of-way to construct highway corridors.

But several mayors have panned the proposal.

"We didn’t bring it up, we didn’t invent it," Park City Mayor Dana Williams said during a recent telephone interview attempting to distance the city from the tax hike. "I’m not a big fan this is Summit County that is bringing this up, not the city."

In March, county commissioners rushed to pass legislation to allow the new fee before a looming April 1 deadline.

However, Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt says they failed to adequately inform him about the plan.

The North Summit area won’t benefit from revenue generated by the fee because much of the funding is likely earmarked for traffic improvements in Snyderville, Schmidt said.

Roughly $80 million worth of road construction has been envisioned around Kimball Junction in the next 20 years. Plans include the realignment of Landmark Drive and widening sections of S.R. 224.

"I think it gives us an opportunity to look down the road and do some transportation planning for the entire county," said Oakley Mayor Blake Frazier, who serves also as Summit County’s elected auditor. "We may not need any for 20 years."

Summit County has the authority to levy the tax without support from the cities, however, the mayors could have some say in how the funds are spent by participating in a Council of Governments.

Commissioners are scheduled to meet with the mayors at the County Courthouse in Coalville on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Kilby conservation easement

The Summit County Commission on April 12 approved a conservation easement for a piece of property taxpayers purchased near Pinebrook to preserve as open space.

The Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District is holding the easement that preserves 47 acres from development for perpetuity, Summit County Community Development Department Director Nora Shepard said.

Taxpayers purchased the land in the Interstate 80 corridor last December, she added.

The property lies south of the freeway and west of Gorgoza Tubing Park. The land is adjacent to property dedicated as open space in the Pinebrook neighborhood, Shepard said.

Oak and sage cover much of the parcel, which cannot be accessed from Kilby Road.

"There are no structures on the property," Shepard’s staff report to the County Commission states.

The easement was necessary in order for Summit County to qualify for funding earmarked for the project in state open-space coffers, the report states.

A governmental entity must hold the easement and Recreation District officials agreed after several agencies reportedly turned down requests from county officials.

Campfire restrictions, already

Wildfires are not the reason forest rangers have prohibited campfires in many areas of the Ashley and Wasatch-Cache national forests.

But those who violate the ban could face fines.

In the Wasatch-Cache, the order prohibits the use of fires or wood stoves within a quarter mile of Naturalist Basin, the McPheters/Ryder Lakes, the Amethyst/Emerald Lakes, Deadhorse Lake, Lower Red Castle Lake, Dollar Lake and Henrys Fork Lake.

"We recognize that restricting the use of campfires near several of our most popular wilderness lakes may be disappointing to some visitors who have traditionally enjoyed campfires at these locations," U.S. Forest Service ranger Mike Elson said in a National Forest press release.

Firewood is slowly replenished in the high elevations of the Uinta Mountains, Elson said, adding that where small dead logs are scarce, "visitors are stripping or cutting standing trees."

"We hope that everyone who enjoys camping in the [Uinta Mountains] will view these new regulations as a relatively small price to pay in order to leave these beautiful areas in good condition for the next generation to enjoy," Elson said.

Areas in the Ashley National Forest affected by the ban include: Swasey Hole, Grandaddy Basin, Garfield Basin, Four Lakes Basin, Atwood Basin, Squaw Basin, Chain Lakes Basin, Upper Rock Creek and Upper Uinta Canyon.

Contact the Kamas Ranger District at (435) 783-4338 for more information. Fires built with charcoal briquettes and fuel-powered backpacking stoves are allowed for cooking.


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