North Summit voters say no to tax levy
November 11, 2016
The North Summit Special Recreation District is on its own to support operations after nearly 70 percent of voters on Tuesday rejected the district's request to become a taxing authority.
Voters were asked to grant the district the authority to impose a tax increase on homes and businesses, not to exceed .000176, to fund general operations and maintenance expenses. The initiative fell short as 1, 602 voters cast ballots opposing the measure compared to 734 votes in favor of it. The community response stunned proponents of the request.
"It is very baffling that they are just not supporting it. Why? I don't know. That is the million-dollar question we are left asking," said Tyler Rowser, a member of the district's administrative control board. "We had no public opposition to it and we held open houses, but no one came out against it."
Even if the measure had passed, it wouldn't have automatically imposed additional property taxes on North Summit residents. The Summit County Council would have had to hold a Truth in Taxation hearing to determine the levy. If the maximum property tax was imposed, the annual property tax increase on a $146,000 primary residence would have been about $25.70.
The outcome closely mirrored the community's reaction to the multi-million bond that was proposed in 2012. Voters were outraged then when the district asked for $8 million to build new recreation facilities and overwhelmingly rejected the measure.
"This was different than that because it wasn't a bond and we weren't asking for millions of dollars, but they still said no," Rowser said.
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The recreation district serves Coalville and the surrounding areas in North Summit by providing baseball and softball, basketball, flag football, soccer, volleyball and camps. It operates on about $35,000 from the county's general fund to support a part-time manager, accounting personnel and athletic activities, such as purchasing sports equipment or hiring referees and umpires. The district occasionally receives money from the Recreation, Arts and Park (RAP) Tax Grant.
Rowser said any additional revenue would have allowed the recreation district to expand the activities and programs that are offered, especially for adults.
"Every year the county has been gracious enough to give us money out of the general fund so we can keep things going," Rowser said. "We are trying to continue to do things for our youth and adults in the community. But, if it can't be funded, there will be two options: either we have to raise participation rates very dramatically to continue to fund these things, or we have to stop doing them."
Officials with the recreation district may consider adjusting the fee schedule to help offset operating expenses, Rowser said. However, he added, if the fees become too high participation will drop.
Rowser said members of the administrative control board have not considered asking the county for additional money. He said, "Frankly, it's not the responsibility of the county to provide recreation for the north end of the county.
"We lean on the county a lot in Summit County to provide things that may be outside their scope," Rowser said. "It would have been $25 a year, tops, for people. You could look at it as paying for one child to participate. Right now, you are paying at least that, maybe more, in fees. It seems like a foolish thing and people didn't do the math very well."
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