Project for Deeper Understanding will host forum on tax proposals
October 4, 2016
Before election ballots arrive in the mailboxes of Summit County voters, Park City's issue group, the Project for Deeper Understanding, will host a public forum next week to offer insights into the two tax proposals up for consideration in November.
The forum will address Summit County and Park City Municipal's strategies for improving transportation and the mechanisms to fund them. The event is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 13, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. The two-hour forum will also include a question and answer segment with the audience.
The panelists will be: Caroline Ferris, Summit County's regional transportation planning director; Alfred Knotts, Park City's transportation planning manager; Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber Bureau; Chris Eggleton, chairman of the Park City Chamber/Bureaus board of directors; and Becky Kearns, president of Resort Banking Division for Zions Bank. Malone, Eggleton and Kearns are participating to support the initiatives.
The Mass Transit Tax and the county-wide tax option would each add .25 percent, or one cent for every $4 spent, to the countywide sales and use tax. Officials have emphasized that it does not apply to food items or gas and would be mainly collected from tourists.
The two taxes are estimated to generate nearly $400,000 in the five East Side municipalities. In turn, the smaller municipalities could annually receive $250,000 for infrastructure improvements from a Small Municipality Transportation Improvement Fund Grant Program.
Rev. Charles Robinson, of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, said the discussions hosted by the Project for Deeper Understanding typically include someone representing the opposition. However, Robinson said they were unable to identify anyone willing to speak out against the proposals.
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"Normally what we try to do is try and find a range of opinions about the issue at hand, but after asking around for a while we really weren't able to identify any clear opposition group," Robinson said.
Ferris and Knotts will begin the discussion outlining the current transportation problems and how the two proposed sales taxes could mitigate them, Robinson said.
Summit County and Park City have assembled a list of projects that could be implemented if the taxes are approved by voters. Some of those include a Kamas- to-Park City bus, remote parking lots near Jeremy Ranch and Ecker Hill, and improvements to the Jeremy Ranch interchanges. Park City's projects include improvements to State Road 248, a Bonanza Park Transit Center and a park-and-ride garage.
"This is a very important election and we know people are going to vote so why not be informed of the issues?" Ferris said. "We understand from our constituents that this is a very important issue and whichever way they vote it is important for us to know and understand if we are on the right path or not.
"We have had some feedback from members of the community and we have tried to incorporate that and address some concerns," Ferris said.
Knotts said the forum provides an opportunity for the public to tell staff "what their transportation needs are." He added, "It is also an opportunity to promote our program and explain our projects." The strategies outlined by the city and the county are structured in a way that will provide more capacity for the current system, he said.
"This approach is not about building our way out of congestion," Knotts said. "It is really to get more capacity out of our system, but also to be able to have the link between land use and planning. We won't build our way out of congestion.
"As we phase these things and put together a program and provide opportunities for the residents to get around and access jobs, housing and recreation, there is this holistic approach and that is what we want to communicate to the community," he said.
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.
The Project for Deeper Understanding's panel discussion addressing the two tax proposals will be held on Thursday, Oct. 13, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 4595 N. Silver Springs Drive.