Two weeks ago I was interviewed by the Park Record on my opposition to the proposed sales tax increase. What I learned is that it is difficult to summarize a 30 minute interview in a few paragraphs. So, while I think they did a fine job, I wanted to provide more context…
There are three primary reasons I am against the sales tax:
- Money from the sales tax will likely help the county buy the parcel of land between Jeremy Ranch Elementary School and the Burt Brothers (it’s called the Cline Dahle parcel). One of the proposed uses for this parcel is a park and ride. If this area becomes a park and ride, it will increase traffic along Rasmussen Road and decrease children’s safety. There are few obvious ways to improve traffic flow or redirect traffic around this area. My fear is that this sales tax will enable the county to make a grave mistake around Jeremy Ranch Elementary. At best it will make dropping kids off at Jeremy Ranch a nightmare and at worst endanger our kids. I’m not willing to bet my children’s safety on the hope that they’ll get this one right — especially when they haven’t in the past.
- I question whether buses are an actual solution to transportation issues. I don’t believe Summit County residents will adopt buses in large scale. The old adage is that everyone loves buses because they hope someone else will ride them. I believe that is especially true for us because most people stop at multiple places when they drive their car. We drop our kids at school. We exercise. We go to work. We stop at the grocery on the way home. It just doesn’t lend itself to busing. Even with more frequent runs, I don’t see people riding buses.
- A solution to traffic based on busing is very complicated and likely won’t work. The argument for adding additional funding to buses is as follows: people don’t ride buses because it takes too long to get anywhere. So, we need to add more frequent stops. Therefore, we increase taxes to pay for more buses. However, people won’t ride buses if they are stuck in the same traffic as cars. So, we need to add bus lanes to let the buses “speed” on by the cars. So, we increase taxes to pay for additional bus lanes. However, the roads those bus lanes travel over are managed by UDOT, and not ourselves. So, we have to convince UDOT to add bus lanes. However, UDOT’s concern really isn’t 224 or 248 as they have bigger fish to fry like to I-15 and I-80. So, we need to show them that we have skin in the game to show them we care. So, we raise taxes. However, UDOT is the most powerful entity in the state. Their budget is over a billion dollars a year. Our $8 million allotted for this (if taxes are raised) is like a gnat. But, we hope they decide to work with us on projects. So, we increase our taxes. Then, if UDOT decides they will do something, we need to work with them to ensure that what they will actually do is what we want them to do. Then, given all that, we hope it works.
Believe me, I understand Park City and Summit County’s pain. I believe Summit County Council Chairman Roger Armstrong when he says that people corner him and demand an answer to what he is doing to fix transportation. The problem is that:
THERE IS NO SHORT-TERM FIX TO TRANSPORTATION PROBLEMS.
The long-term fix is designing our neighborhoods around transportation. The long term fix is self driving vehicles that have 3 feet between them as they cruise on 224. The long term fix is planning Park City and the Snyderville Basin for the year 2030 (and beyond) based on what our community will look like in 13 years (do we still have snow below 9000 feet?).
The mistake is doing something for something’s sake. The mistake is wasting money when it could be used later … AND BETTER.
If YOU specifically will commit to riding the bus to ski, to work, and to dinner then it probably makes sense for you to vote for Propositions 9 and 10 on the ballot on Tuesday. But if you can’t, do you really think others will commit to it in significant numbers? No.
That’s my fear.
If Proposition 9 and 10 do nothing for me, wouldn’t I be better off donating that money during Live PC Give PC so that the Park City Band could have more instruments? Yes.
If Proposition 9 and 10 do very little for our community, couldn’t we have spent the money in many better ways? Yes.
If there are side-effects like endangering kids and making traffic worse around Jeremy Ranch Elementary school, shouldn’t we think twice before we enable that? Yes.
That’s why I’ll be voting NO on Tuesday.