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Should Summit County help accelerate growth at the Canyons?

A fundamental question we face as a community is how much growth we want. We know that more growth is coming, not only from our own existing entitlements, but from Wasatch County. Now, it seems we have another question to answer:

Do we want to accelerate growth?

This Wednesday the Summit County Council will discuss creating a special services district at the Canyons. TCFC, the primary property owner at Canyons Village (Canyons), is requesting that Summit County create a $21 million bond to help pay for their infrastructure. Individual property owners at the Canyons Village would then pay higher property taxes to pay off the bond.

In a presentation created by TCFC for the Summit County Council, TCFC says it’s an “Opportune Timing to Accelerate Development and Tax Generation” for Summit County. TCFC wants to add infrastructure to the Canyons, including a new Main Street, a high mountain road, and an $11.7 million parking garage (among other smaller projects). TCFC’s arguments are:

  • Park City is poised for strong growth in the coming years as a result of the “Vail Effect” bringing more skiers to the area
  • Projections for overnight visitor growth quickly surpass the current bed base
  • Accelerated development in the Canyons expedites generation of tax revenue for Summit County
  • This will require a public-private partnership with Summit County to build key infrastructure to facilitate development

So, TCFC Is asking Summit County to issue a $20+ million bond, assess Canyon’s property owners via taxes, so that TCFC can expand the Canyons more quickly than they otherwise might. It also means that anything built via these bonds is owned by the County. So, Summit County would own part of a resort and could then pay TCFC to manage this infrastructure! In return for this, Summit County would benefit from increased tax revenue (according to TCFC’s presentation).

It’s almost so ludicrous sounding that we wonder what the real play is. Is TCFC asking for the special assessment, in order to later give that up, in order to get something they really want? Is TCFC finding it difficult to get workable financing? Or does TCFC just want to take advantage of a good economy and expand while they can?

We’re not sure. But we appreciate the Summit County Attorney’s Office drafting a legal memorandum outlining questions about this “offer.” Some of the questions that Chief Civil Deputy Dave Thomas brings up include:

  • Why is the CVMA (Canyons Village Management Association) funding source (real estate transfer fees or assessments of CVMA members) insufficient to finance the construction of resort infrastructure?
  • What are the financial risks to the County associated with establishing an assessment area at the Canyons? What happens if property owners within
    the assessments? What are the legal ramifications of such nonpayment? Would the County have to wait 5 years to collect on any delinquency via tax sale? Would the County have to subsidize bond payments while collecting delinquent assessments? How will this impact the County’s bond rating? Why should the County take these financial risks?
  • What are the benefits to the County of establishing an assessment area at the Canyons? Will the tax base (sales, property, TRT, Restaurant taxes) be enhanced?
  • Would the redevelopment proposed by TCFC occur anyway without establishing an assessment area?
  • Why would the County want to own resort infrastructure? Who would maintain the resort infrastructure?
  • The CVMA has obligations under the Development Agreement for moderate income
    housing, roads and transit. Does an assessment area constitute a bail-out of those
    existing obligations?
  • Is it in the County’s best interests to facilitate economic growth at the Canyons, given the current 2.8% unemployment rate in the County, the absence of adequate moderate income housing in the area, and the increased impacts to the transportation system?

We would add one more question to that list:

Does the county really want to help build a 700 car parking garage at the base of the Canyons while they are preaching “take the bus”? It just wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

It should be interesting to watch on Wednesday as the council listens to TCFC’s arguments and debates the issues. It will also be an initial litmus test on where our two new county council members Glenn Wright and Doug Clyde really stand on these types of issues.

If you’d like more information, the TCFC presentation is here. The Summit County Legal Memorandum is here.

As with any topic, if you’d like two let the Summit County Council know your feelings, you can email them at .

Comments

2 Comments

Avatar
Leslie Harlow

I am curious. Though the resort itself maintains its own property, doesn’t the city maintain much of the infrastructure at Deer Valley – the roads, primarily. I imagine the property taxes paid by Deer Valley owners are enough to offset the cost of the roads and road maintenance. Is that the case?

Avatar
Parkrag

Leslie-

You ask some good questions. I don’t know specifically at Deer Valley, but some developments create private roads which are not serviced by Park City/Summit County and others use public roads. While I haven’t received confirmation, it is my understanding that the Canyons is responsible for much of their own roads. I’ve heard it described like it operates as its own city. Again, that could be wrong but that is what I’ve heard.

I do know where I live (Jeremy Ranch) we are part of an area called Service Area 6. We pay additional taxes on top of our property taxes for road maintenance in the entire Service Area 6 region.

Again, I don’t know if the general taxes of Park City pay for Deer Valley road maintenance, whether all/some of the roads are private (then residents would pay), or whether Park City assesses residents around Deer Valley specifically for their roads.


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