The Summit County Council Wednesday voted to implement two new transit tax levies. They also acknowledged that for them—and just about everybody else in the county—deciding for or against has been a quandary.
After a prolonged discussion, the county council voted for the so-called “Fourth Quarter’ tax—amounting to .25 percent, and the “Fifth Quarter” of .2 percent.
Under state legislation, the county can receive 100 percent of the Fourth Quarter revenues through next June of 2019, which is estimated to raise up to $3.6 million. After next June, there will be a split applied to the revenues.
Council Member Roger Armstrong saying he needed to correct some previous estimates, noted the tax would come to 25 cents per 100 dollars.
The Fifth Quarter tax would not be subject to a split.
Deputy county manager Janna Young said they had devoted a lot of time soliciting public input, talking to local stakeholder groups and discussing the levies with City Councils all over the county.
She said that in general, they heard fairly mixed feelings from the citizens.
“Those who oppose it, they agree that transportation and transit are critical needs. It seems like the most common complaint we’ve heard is ‘the timing stinks’ around this.” Young explained
“In the context of recently imposed taxes, as well as what other entities are considering for the fall. And the fact that in very little time we have to consider this, and it feels like its rushed and being pushed through.” Young continued.
“There’s also a general feeling of tax fatigue, and the fact that while these are little increases over time they do add up, and they compound to be pretty substantial. Particularly when you look at lodging establishments in Park City specifically. Which has all of these other taxes tapped on top of it.” Young added “If you add the Fourth and Fifth Quarter to that, it would put the rate over 13% on lodging in Park City. There is also a feeling that the East side are paying into the tax, but all the money is going to Snyderville Basin and Park City.”
Council Chair Kim Carson said that the Park City Council were torn about the new taxes, and cited tax fatigue, since Park City had just raised its Transient Room Tax, had approved one bond, and is now looking at another this November.
Council Member Doug Clyde said in a meeting of the Oakley City Council, nobody was opposing the taxes. On the other hand, County Manager Tom Fisher said the Coalville City Council was 100 percent against the proposal.
In the end, Young said that the county staff endorsed the new taxes, and she explained why.
“We never have enough funding to meet the demands being asked of us. If the county wants to actually pull off a bus rapid transit or other solution, maybe a better one, on State Route 224 we will have to have the added revenue or reduce funding to other county priorities. These revenue sources will help leverage other moneys and make some of these choices easier for us and then after July of next year”
Young said “A portion of the revenues will go to the municipalities within the county for road and bridge projects and maintenance. About half of the cities we’ve talked to are supportive of imposing the Fourth Quarter tax”
The council also heard comments from former council member Tal Adair. He said that personally, he doesn’t like taxes, but also doesn’t like to pay for car repairs due to bad roads.
He spoke for the Kamas Valley Business Association and said that group also has conflicted feelings.
“If you don’t have good roads then you don’t promote business, but if you take away monies from people that are spending money, you’re not going to grow your business either. From their standpoint it’s like the chicken or the egg, we need to promote business we need to have good roads. It’s always that quandary that we have in our own personal budgets and family budgets.” Adair said of the proposal.
Roger Armstrong said the message they were hearing from almost everybody is “Great benefit, but the timing sucks”
“Do what you guys think is the right thing to do” Armstrong said
“And parenthetically we’ll blame you later” quipped back council member Doug Clyde.