Property tax proposed for North Summit Recreation District
Ever since North Summit Special Recreation District voters overwhelmingly rejected a multi-million dollar bond in 2012, the district has been hesitant to ask voters to support another measure.
Voters were outraged when the district asked for $15 million to build new recreation facilities and rejected the measure at the polls even after it was reduced to about $8 million.
However, Wednesday, the Summit County Council approved the district’s request to become an authorized taxing authority and to hold a special election on Nov. 8 to authorize imposing a property tax to fund operations.
"At the time the bond was proposed, it was a haphazard thing," said Tyler Rowser, member of the district’s administrative control board. "There were a lot of strings attached to it and they didn’t sell it very well. That bond election was a tough pill for people to swallow.
"But the recreation district still needs operational money," Rowser said. "The County Council has been very gracious every year to subsidize us and give us money to operate on, but we think we need to be able to subsidize ourselves and the way to do that though is through taxation."
The district has asked to impose a tax increase not to exceed .000176 to fund general operations and maintenance expenses. The recreation district serves Coalville and the surrounding areas in North Summit by providing the following activities: baseball and softball, basketball, flag football, soccer, volleyball and camps.
Rowser said the district has received some money from the Recreation, Arts and Park (RAP) Tax Grant, but operates on only $35,000 annually. The district’s budget supports a part-time manager, accounting personnel and athletic activities, such as purchasing sports equipment or hiring referees and umpires.
"People see $35,000 and think that it is a lot of money, but really it goes really fast and come the end of the year we are really tight on our budget for what we are doing," Rowser said.
If the maximum property tax is imposed, the annual property tax on a $165,000 primary residence or business would be approximately $15.97 and $29.04, respectively. Rowser said the district wants to collect about $50,000 a year.
Orlene Ovard-Snyder, owner of the Blue Roof Children’s Academy, in Coalville, said she would be willing to have her taxes raised "a little bit" only if it funds a new city park.
"We are in dire need of a park for kids and I would love to see a good one in Coalville." Ovard-Snyder said. "I would just have to see how much they are going to raise and how much they are going spend. But if the money is for more athletics, I am not in favor."
Taryn D. Robertson, owner of Head Over Heels Power Tumbling, in Coalville, said she would also want more information about what the money would support before deciding whether she is in favor of an increase. Referring to the bond, Robertson said it was "a great idea, but it just didn’t go very well."
"So this time around I would need to know specifically what the money was going toward," Robertson said.
Claudia McMullin, Summit County Council member, said funding the district has been an ongoing issue for years. McMullin said the bond mainly failed because of the amount that was proposed.
Rowser said it’s important for voters to remember that the recreation district provides a service to them and "through these tax dollars we are hoping to continue to do that."
"We want to provide some trails and perhaps lower fees," Rowser said. "Through some potential partnerships we could really make our communities a little bit better than they were before. We don’t want to hide anything with this proposal. We want to get it out front and let the public know what to expect from it."
Coalville Mayor Trever Johnson said he had not been made aware of the tax proposal. However, Johnson said "the district is a good thing and I support what they do."
"What they are charging the citizens is a bargain, in my opinion," Johnson said. "But I don’t know much about how they are supplemented on the back end and I don’t know enough about the decision to put the vote on the ballot. In my opinion, we have some big questions coming down for the recreation district with what is going to happen with the new fairgrounds and how all that will play out."
A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Summit County Courthouse, in Coalville. The special election is scheduled to be held Nov. 8 between the 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Voters within the boundaries of the North Summit Recreation District will be eligible to cast a ballot.
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