Summit County eyes two ballot initiatives | ParkRecord.com

Summit County eyes two ballot initiatives

Last year, Alfred Knotts, Park Citys transportation planning manager, and Caroline Ferris, Summit Countys regional transportation planning director, went before the Summit County Council to discuss traffic issues. Knotts and Ferris will lead the discussion today about ways to fund transportation projects in a joint meeting before the two councils.

After several months of closed-door meetings between Summit County and Park City staff, officials say they have devised a plan to help fund several transportation projects over the next six years: two separate tax proposals.

The Summit County Council will get its first glimpse today of the two ballot initiatives that a joint subcommittee will recommend the council adopt. The subcommittee, which is comprised of Summit County and Park City Council members and staff, will be presented in a joint meeting today of the two councils at 4 p.m. at the Sheldon Richins Building. The last meeting was held in April.

The subcommittee is expected to present County Council members with two separate tax proposals to add to the ballot in November: an additional Mass Transit Tax and county-wide option.

"What is expected of the councils is for them to say, 'yes we have listened to your research and yes move forward' or 'we are concerned.' We just need guidance on how to proceed," said Caroline Ferris, Summit County regional transportation planning director. "They have asked us to come back and say what projects will make the biggest impact and will be the most efficient in terms of cost and time.

The Mass Transit Tax would add .25 percent, or one cent for every $4 spent to the countywide sales and use tax. The new tax is estimated to annually generate $4.1 million, according to a Summit County staff report.

Over the last six months, Park City and Summit County Council members and staff have created a list of projects the transit tax could fund that would increase bus service. Some of the projects including a Kamas to Park City connection, Kimball Junction circulator, State Road 248 express bus and more neighborhood transit connections. The report stated that Park City and Summit County would govern the monies generated through this option under a Memorandum of Understanding.

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A county-wide tax option would also impose a .25 percent sales and use tax to support transportation infrastructure and would also generate $4.1 million. However, it cannot be used for transit operations. Instead, that money could be spent on remote parking lots near Jeremy Ranch and Ecker Hill, improvements to the Jeremy Ranch interchanges and a State Road 248 HOV lane.

According to the staff report, a Summit County Small Municipality Transportation Improvement Fund Grant Program could be attached to the county-wide option to potentially provide up to an additional $250,000 to the smaller municipalities to improve infrastructure. Those projects would be developed and approved by the Council of Governments.

"These projects we have outlined will benefit everyone including our East Side residents," Ferris said.

Last year, the County Council considered adding a county-wide option to the ballot under Utah House Bill 362 during the municipal elections. However, they decided to wait until the general election despite having the support of several of the county's mayors. Ferris said the subcommittee did not consider reintroducing the option because "it did not meet our needs."

County Council members will have until the end of August to pass a resolution to include the initiatives on the November ballot. Several more meetings and hearings before the public are expected over the next few weeks before a decision is made.

"What I want to emphasize is: This is really Summit County's chance to control our own destiny," Ferris said. "We have unique needs in Summit County and this would allow us to plan for the future the way residents want it done. People are extremely concerned about transportation and growth so we know they are an issue. We are not going to wait around for another agency to come in and tell us what we need to do so we are asking to take control now to maintain our small-town feel."

To view the Summit County staff report and presentation, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/3607.

Ballot initiative timeline

  • August 11: Park City Council scheduled to consider supporting initiatives
  • August 16: Council of Governments meeting to discuss initiatives
  • August 17: Summit County Council to considering adding ballot initiatives
  • August 31: Last meeting County Council can consider adopting measures
  • September-October: Public information meetings and voter mailings
  • September 9: Ballot language received by county clerk
  • November 8: Election

Information provided by Summit County