Record editorial: Basin Rec’s argument for tax increase should earn County Council support
A challenging decision awaits the Summit County Council.
In the coming weeks, the elected officials must decide whether to approve a property tax increase that would bring in 72% more revenue to the Snyderville Basin Recreation District’s maintenance and operations budget and fund much-needed capital projects.
Taken by itself, the hike Basin Rec is requesting is not extreme. It would amount to about $15 per $100,000 of a primary home’s taxable value. Its impact, though, is compounded by the fact that several other taxing authorities in Summit County have also increased taxes in recent years. Many people, particularly those on fixed incomes, are feeling the squeeze.
So it’s unsurprising that the prospect is proving controversial. And on Wednesday, many residents appeared at a public meeting to lodge their concerns with the County Council.
But the reasoning behind the tax increase is sound. Basin Rec officials have been adamant that it’s necessary to help the district shoulder a growing workload that includes maintaining an expanding list of trails, parks and open space areas. The revenue would go toward things like enforcing trail regulations, improving trailhead parking lots and replacing outdated amenities at several parks.
Hopefully the council will ultimately agree, given the value Basin Rec’s offering add to our community.
Bolstering the argument is the fact Basin Rec has not raised property taxes — apart from bonds that earned broad voter approval — in 15 years. A lot has changed since then. A report drafted in advance of Wednesday’s meeting noted that Basin Rec during that time has acquired 2,100 acres of open space, built 90-plus miles of trails and 13 trailheads and added many amenities to parks — all of which require money to develop and maintain but none of which provide revenue.
There is a point to be made that, going forward, Basin Rec would be better served by considering smaller tax increases more frequently to avoid a bigger hike all at once. But it’s difficult to assert that the district has not proven to be mindful stewards of public money, squeezing what it can out of its budget before requiring taxpayers to open up their pocketbooks.
We do not begrudge residents who oppose the increase. In deciding the issue, the County Council should give proper weight to their objections.
But the truth remains that many of us live here to enjoy recreational perks like trails, open space and parks. And when it comes time to pay for them, those of us who can afford it should be willing to do our part.
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