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Bluebird Bailout — Should Park City and Summit County Pay for PCMR’s Bond?

Park City officials Diane Foster and Jack Thomas were interviewed Friday on KPCW about the latest in PCMR vs Talisker. There was tough talk, including statements about the City having to take another look at projects like Woodward if PCMR isn’t open this year. Yet, there was hopeful optimism by Thomas that a solution could be found. The Parkrag fears that this solution will ultimately include Park City and Summit County contributing to the bond that keeps PCMR open in 2014.

PCMR is required to put money into a bond that will go to Talisker should PCMR’s legal appeals ultimately fail. PCMR wants to pay between $1 and $6 million in this bond while Talisker wants over $120 million in this bond. This bond would cover the past years where PCMR has not payed rent and a couple of years into the future. The problem of course is that $6 million is a real money, even for a large corporation like PWDER Corp. $100 million is so much that it may not even be possible for them to raise. The other problem is that PWDER may look at this as lost money, because previous rulings have pointed to them losing this case.

So, what could happen? It’s possible PWDER cannot or will not put all this money on the line. If that happens, and no deal is done between the ski giants, PCMR will likely not open in 2014. Now Park City has a crisis on its hands and a problem that it thinks it, with help of Summit County, can help solve. Time will be of the essence, because the season is rapidly approaching. $3 million dollars later, provided by our local governments, PCMR and Talisker may give it another year to see if their two mega corporations can come to an agreement. The residents of our area are now, as they say, on the hook and even more financially tied to the circus this has become.

The idea isn’t as far fetched as one might think. While the focus of a PCMR closure has been on the impact to local residents working at the resort, the city of Park city receives sizable tax revenue related to PCMR. What would happen to Park City’s budget if this tax revenue disappeared? The argument might even be made that it would be better for Park City to eventually lose money in a bond if it meant keeping the mountain open this year. They may lose $2 million in the bond but generate far more in tax revenue this year. Regardless, if this is even being considered by Park City’s leaders, it should be put before the citizens of Park City to get all viewpoints, before a decision is made.

That same tax argument does not apply for Summit County. Summit County does not get resort tax money from PCMR and it does not get sales tax from PCMR. There seems to be little financial reason for Summit County to become involved. Summit County residents would likely end up footing the bill for this with little offered in return. It would sound like Summit County was doing its part for the community but in actuality it would be hurting the majority of its residents by taking money that could be used for roads, facilities, and other programs.

It is an understatement that the community is ready for the PCMR vs. Talisker saga to be over, one way or another. While there could be reasons Park City would want to get involved in a bond for PCMR, there are few reasons Summit County should join in. If developments head this way, let’s hope that reason prevails over emotion and Summit County stays out of providing any monetary support to this endeavor and Park City at leasts consults its residents before any formal decisions are made.


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