We’re not made of money
The spat between the County Council and Summit Land conservancy over the purchase of the Osguthorpe Farm highlights a problem. Our governments aren’t made of money. Summit County offered to pony up $4 million to help Summit Land Conservancy buy the land, but the land conservancy needs $5.5 million to complete the purchase. The land conservancy rejected the county’s offer due to a number of conditions that the county apparently made with offer. The fact that the county says they can offer $4 million is surprising in itself.
The problem is that we spend millions on Bonanza Flat. We spend millions on the Cline Dahl’s parcel. We may spend millions on the Osguthorpe Farm. Yet, we have to raise property taxes because we can’t cover expenses (like roads). We get that each of those projects (Bonanza Flat, etc) have their merits… but not when you are broke. It’s like having no money, buying a Tesla, and justifying it because it’s emission free.
Some day, not too far away, these chicken are going to come home to roost.
Open space is probably the most important thing in Park City. It’s why I live here, and why a lot of other people live here. I’m fine with doubling property taxes if needed.
That said, I have no particular interest in this parcel. It seems like it would make more sense to build dense housing there, given the central location and concerns about transit.
A different view:
Summit Land wasn’t looking for $5.5M, they were looking for $4M. The dispute is in the details about what access the county would get, setback issues, and some details around use of other properties. Remember that the Federal government is throwing in almost $9M, so if nothing else, it is good leverage.
Also, the voters of the Basin voted years ago to fund open space acquisitions. That fund still has a bunch of money in it, so the property tax increase for operational funds is unrelated. The financial decision is “should we use the voter approved open space dollars for this particular easement?”
Your points seem to get more relevant when the county asks for another open space bond.
I guess I look at it more as most money is fungible. Money can be shifted and used in a number of ways. What is earmarked in a bond for recreation and open space can be used in a number of different ways. And those uses can open up money for other uses.
You are absolutely correct that the county’s portion of Bonaza Flat was funded through $2+ million of open space money and a couple million of transient room tax dollars. Cline Dahle, I believe is purely out of the budget. I’m not sure the county has announced where the money would come from for the Osguthorpe Farm…. but it may make sense for it to be open space funds (depending on the technicalities).
That said, for each of these projects, upkeep has to be done. Improvements are made. Employees are hired. That costs money and I’m not sure the bond funds are paying that either.
Again, I completely agree with you that in principal there is the open space money and there is the county’s budget. In a perfect world, never the twain will meet. However, I guess I see the possibility for overlap here. When I hear the constant “if we don’t raise your property taxes we will be cutting essential services” and then read another article about buying land, building trails, and maintaining it, it makes me wonder if we have it all under control… and if we can truly afford it.
Maybe we can.
We can easily afford it. Taxes here are hilariously low. We paid about the same in property taxes on a 1000 sq foot condo in Colorado (also not a high tax state!) 10 years ago than we do here on a 4000 square foot McMansion – Summit county is at about .46%! Totally nuts that anyone would complain about that, but I guess people will complain about anything.
If you want to compare with the rest of UT (which has one of the lowest property tax rates in the US), we’re near the bottom (scroll down a bit for the table by county):
It does bother me when people simultaneously complain about wanting more services, paying public employees better/providing affordable housing, and simultaneously bitch and moan about one of the lowest tax rates in the United States. You can have low taxes and crappy services, or you can have higher taxes and better services. There’s not some magic way to get great services for free.
FWIW, too, I’m not familiar with the guts of the Summit County open space taxes and spending, but they’re really not that “fungible” in the sense that you can take open space money and use it for other stuff. It’s earmarked (as I understand it) for *acquiring* land (or development rights, like High Ute) that meets certain requirements. You could argue that the Osguthorpe property doesn’t meet those requirements, or that the money should be saved for some other OS purchase in the future, but it’s really not fair to say that buying the property hits funding for other unrelated county functions.
does anyone know the zoning density for the Osguthorpe farm parcel under consideration? Is the 17M$ (I think) buying down 1 unit per 10 acres or 1 unit per 1/2 acre? The potential development rights are a crucial part of the desirability of buying OS as well as negotiating the price.
if property taxes go up, housing values will go down. It’s the ONLY way people can afford monthly mortgages. In the end it’s 6s, how expensive do you want our community to become??? Is it even possible for those middle class residents that moved her 15 years ago to continue to afford to live here??
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