On Nov. 7, voters in the unincorporated area of Summit County, aka the Snyderville Basin, will be asked to vote Yes or No on the Basin Rec $12 million bond. A large portion of that $12 million (the voter pamphlet says $7 million, but Basin Rec is now quoting $7-$9 million) is for the Field House Phase 2, including a leisure pool, maybe lap lanes or not, maybe a gym, maybe two gyms, maybe a climbing wall. Basin Rec held open houses on Oct. 23 and 24 to learn what type of facility the public wants. Shouldn’t they have done that BEFORE asking the voters for $12 million? Would you loan money to someone without knowing how it would be used? We, the taxpayers, don’t know how this $12 million will be used by Basin Rec because no plans have been finalized; no budgets have been finalized; no ongoing operating budgets have been finalized.
Basin Rec has been conspicuously quiet about this bond, but it’s a complex and important issue. The decision isn’t as simple as pool or no pool, although the lack of public information would make you believe it is.
The $7-$9 million cost is for building, NOT for operating costs. Most people don’t know that most public pools don’t break even and their operating costs must be subsidized. Park City already has a pool (at Ecker Hill), subsidized by the Park City School District (PCSD), aka the taxpayers, by over a quarter of a million dollars a year. Although it is a wonderful facility, it is woefully underutilized for most of the day. Yes, there are times some might say it’s over-utilized, but those are the exception, not the rule. Do we really need to increase that underutilization by building another aquatic facility? On the face of it, some might say yes, Kamas has a leisure pool, so we need one, too; we don’t want to drive 15 minutes to Kamas. Maybe they should consider this: a second pool would, most certainly, have a negative impact on the Ecker Hill pool and school district programs. Nobody denies that Ecker Hill would see a decrease in patrons – after all, there are only so many aquatic devotees to spread around. This means an even larger operating deficit at Ecker Hill, which would have to be funded by the Park City School District and its taxpayer base. Yes, PCSD. We all know PCSD is already facing financial hardships, so how will they come up with money for the pool? They would have three choices: 1) cut spending on current programs, 2) raise taxes or 3) raise prices. Do you want to pay more taxes to Basin Rec for the leisure pool and more taxes to the PCSD to pay for Ecker Hill? And possibly pay higher prices to use either one?
What about the other facilities that rely on our tax dollars? We’re paying for the Field House, the trails, the ice rink, the Ecker Hill pool and the sports complex at Quinn’s Junction. It seems more likely than not that every one of them will be negatively impacted by yet another recreational facility. After all, there are only so many people in this community and more large recreational facilities means fewer patrons at each one. And that means yet more taxes to fund the ongoing operations of each one of them.
Much more thought and detail must go into the proposal for the Basin Rec bond. In the meantime, I suggest a NO vote on Nov 7.
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A member of the Park City Leadership class writes in a guest editorial that residents only have a few more days to participate in the all-important census.