Park City and Summit County still deciding on a ballot initiative
July 15, 2016
Park City and Summit County officials are still trying to decide which initiative will be on the ballot and presented to voters in November to support future transportation-related projects.
Several months ago, the Park City and Summit County councils agreed to form a subcommittee to explore the funding options each entity could pursue. The group tentatively agreed to reconvene in June. However, Summit County Manager Tom Fisher said a joint meeting won't likely be held until July 27.
The councils eventually plan to present a set of projects that could be funded by tax initiatives to the voters, along with the mechanisms to fund them. One of the options under serious consideration is the implementation of a county-wide sales tax that could generate about $4 million. Others include increasing property taxes, forming private partnerships and taking on long-term debt.
"The actual deadline for a council to adopt ballot language and resolve to put that on the ballot is Aug. 31," Fisher said. "We are actually looking at around the middle of August of being a more comfortable date before we start to have public hearings on this so we have a little time."
Fisher said he anticipates the issue will go before the County Council later this month, with a potential decision being made on Aug. 17. He said the topic is also scheduled to be discussed at the next Council of Government meeting on Aug. 16. Any public hearings would be held between Aug. 17 and Aug. 31, Fisher said.
"Both the city and the other municipalities have been constantly talking about transportation issues. It unavoidably comes up as the number one or number one contributing issue to our quality of life and we keep talking about the problems associated with that," Fisher said. "But that doesn't mean that if the voters don't support it traffic isn't important.
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"Our ability to really have an effect on it has to do with how much can be spent to put some solutions in place," he said.
Summit County Council Chair Roger Armstrong, who is also a member of the joint subcommittee, said there are only a handful of viable options for generating money. Armstrong said if a tax increase is proposed, voters need to have enough time to digest it. However, he added that "we are still early."
"The whole system is set up for that purpose. If you are going to ask for anything out of the voters' pocketbooks, they need a period of time to discuss it," Armstrong said. "We also need time to look at what we are trying to solve. On the county-side, we have identified a list of priorities that, if we were somehow able to raise finances, would be targeted toward those types of things."
While the subcommittee will come forward with a recommendation, that does not mean it will be be supported by the councils, Fisher said. He said the recommendation will "certainly be something that has a lot of momentum around our governments putting something in motion."
"But at the end of the day, it's a choice and not something we take lightly," Fisher said. "One of the things we have to discuss is what is going to be produced as a traffic result from taxes being raised. If they are able to do that, how can we first anticipate and how do we measure whether we are having an effect or not at the end of the day with these improvements? These are all things that we will have to present to the public when the time is right."
To view the Summit County Council agenda when it becomes available, go to the agenda center under the 'County Council' tab at http://summitcounty.org/agendacenter
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