Guest editorial: Zero property tax for full time Park City residents
Candidate for Park City mayor
Park City is a global destination for our guests, but for us, it’s our home. Our town has grown considerably over the last 40 years, and we deserve an experienced and effective executive in the mayor’s office. I have a simple straightforward platform: Manage tourism to our maximum advantage while maintaining what we love as full-time residents.
I love my hometown and so do you. You talk and I listen. My agenda is for the town itself, not progressive ideologies. We need to accommodate the influx of visitors without destroying what we love about living here, while also monetizing and spending prudently without it becoming a burden on ourselves in the future.
For the first time ever, Utah saw over 5 million skier visits in 2019 (pre-pandemic), with 40% coming to Park City. Outdated planning is why we have the infrastructure issues we have today. Rather than think about the operation of Park City in outdated terms, local government must think about city management in a similar vein to how a theme park manages their operations. At peak times, we have close to 100,000 here a day. Disneyland operates on a similar scale.
Park City’s Annual Budget is greater than $165 million a year, all driven by tourism tax dollars. Our 8,320 full-time residents account for 15% of property taxes collected, or 2% of the total annual budget. Which brings me to the first point of my 3-point platform:
Zero property taxes for full-time Park City residents.
Finding 2% out of a $165 million budget is not difficult, and we can use funds otherwise budgeted to pay for programs and services currently receiving funding from our property taxes. We currently fully subsidize transportation, and housing, for a select few. There is no reason we cannot provide a similar benefit for our full-time property owners. There are several towns, and even nations, that provide tax benefits to citizens just for living there. We need to do better for our local people.
Transportation: We spend $50 million just on transportation, much of which goes to our under-utilized bus system that has done little to reduce traffic. We have not created an environment for people to park their cars.
We can focus our tax revenue away from vanity projects to much needed larger infrastructure projects, like walkable mixed-use park/ride/live villages that lower car density, provide housing, and carbon-friendly transportation, in the form of a gondola system. This is exactly what mountain towns like Telluride, Mammoth and Breckenridge have done.
We can increase parking revenue as well as lessen traffic via dynamic pricing for our lots, garages and meters, and offer better park and ride solutions that encourage our guests to ditch their cars. If you want to park close, it’s going to cost more.
Housing: We should shift to a rental policy and limit the availability of subsidized housing to only those who work in Park City. If you no longer work in Park City, you lose the subsidy. If your income increases, your subsidy decreases.
In my many conversations with residents, I’m hearing frustration toward the town’s involvement in social issues, using public funds. I believe that the Mayor’s role is to focus on our local issues, and use monies designated to our town, for our town. We are welcoming guests from all over the world and so the municipality must remain agnostic at the local level, while providing services that offer the best possible experience for our residents and visitors.
Running a city is like running a business, this means making sure funds go to civil responsibilities — which become increasingly more important as visitor numbers rise. A good Mayor should be invisible, not attracting attention, while he/she keeps things running smoothly.
It is time for an effective executive. I appreciate your support. For more information please visit daviddobkinparkcity.com.
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