Guest editorial |

Guest editorial

Alex Butwinski, former Park City Council member, Park City

The Park City Council and the Mayor are to be commended for implementing a plan that ensures that our water supply remains safe and reliable. The role of government is to provide for the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. Providing clean water accomplishes all three of those responsibilities.

The Storm Water Utility Plan is another step forward and relates directly to Council goals for preserving and enhancing the natural environment and water conservation. But how should it be paid for?

Serious consideration should be given to paying for it without adding another fee to the already significant costs of providing potable water. Paying part of the initial fee from the Additional Resort Communities Sales Tax makes sense and it does lessen the initial impact on the community. There has to be an alternative to pay for the balance within the existing budget and/or by reprioritizing the funds in the Capital Improvement Plan.

Additional fees add to the already significant costs paid by our citizens. These incremental additions to tax bills as fees should be viewed through the lens of being a complete community in which people can afford to live. Landlords will pass increased costs on to tenants and that will only exacerbate the challenge for our workforce to live in town. Even long-time residents on fixed or relatively static incomes will, eventually, no longer be able to live here as more fees are added.

In the sixth year the storm water utility fee rises to $6.61 per month, which equals an annual cost of $79.32 for the smallest ESU, approximately 1,800 feet of impervious surface. That can quickly multiply to hundreds of dollars a year more for homes that have wider driveways, concrete patios and other hard surfaces. Some small businesses may be affected even more.

Presumably the fee will continue beyond 2022. Are we giving credit for retention ponds? For homes that have water barrels? For homes that have no gutters where a portion of the storm water remains on site? In fact, doesn’t our Land Management Code require that most storm water be retained on site? If a significant portion of storm water is collected from street runoff isn’t that a necessary service to be provided by the city to fulfill it’s role?

I know how Council must balance the costs to provide necessary services and pay for the projects that achieve the four goals contained in our community vision. The challenge is to distinguish and choose between needs and wants. The storm water management plan is unquestionably a need and as such should be paid for from existing fund balances and general fund revenue.

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