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Because of how these taxes were authorized by the Legislature, the funds can only be used on transportation and transit projects or to pay off debt from these projects.
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The 4th quarter is a 0.25% sales tax that can be used to either pay debt service or to fund regionally significant transportation facilities. After the first year, revenue from this option are subject to statewide redistribution to cities (0.10%), transit districts (0.10%), and counties (0.05%). The 5th quarter is a 0.20% sales tax that can be used to fund transit capital purchase and service delivery. 100% of the revenues generated by this sales tax go directly to the County. There is no redistribution.
They are actually very similar to the previously imposed taxes in that they are intended to be used for improvements to our transportation network. The Legislature has made these additional mechanisms available in hopes of filling a funding gap that remained, even with the previous taxes in place.
The difference this time around is that part of these taxes are redistributed statewide, which means that a portion of the revenues collected go directly to cities within a County. However, this also means that revenues from other counties across the state who impose the tax would come to Summit County.
County and cit[ies] staff began implementing projects as soon as the funds became available. The Electric Xpress, the Kimball Junction Circulator, and the Kamas Commuter are all funded through the previously imposed taxes, as are some of the electric bikes and the pedestrian tunnel near Park City High School. Also with this revenue, work has begun on the Jeremy Ranch interchange and the Ecker Park and Ride. The County is in the process of purchasing and improving the Kamas Park and Ride parcel. Both Kamas and Francis also received funding for road overlay projects.
In 2019 with these revenues, the County will construct the Bitner to Silver Creek Road extension, improve trails, expand transit, and begin the environmental phase of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on SR-224. Park City will begin its Bonanza Park Transit Center project along with SR-248 Corridor safety improvements. Coalville City will continue with the design process for reconstruction of Coalville Main Street.
Summit County wants to maintain local control of these funds rather than wait for the state to dictate how and where to spend the money. Additionally, if the County acts on the 4th quarter before July 1 of this year, the County will keep 100% of the revenue generated until next July.
Visitors to Summit County pay around 50% of all sales tax and this tax is not applied on (unprepared) food from the grocery store. For locals, the taxes represent around $1-$3 per resident per month depending on spending habits.
Even if the County Council were to implement both the 4th and 5th Quarters, Summit County would still be on the lower end of overall sales tax rates compared to other counties in Utah. Our tax rate would also remain lower than comparable communities in Colorado, such as Vail, Aspen, and Breckenridge.
The revenues generated would significantly increase the amount of dollars that go to Kamas, Coalville, Francis, Henefer, Oakley, and Park City for road infrastructure improvements. Quite simply, it would mean more money for municipalities to address their own transportation priorities. The County would also have the ability to fund projects in Kimball Junction, on SR-224, and in Silver Creek sooner than previously planned.
Additionally, implementation of these taxes would place Summit County in an extremely favorable position when competing for federal, discretionary transit dollars (i.e. very large grants; in some cases, $80 million). The current presidential administration has directed U.S.D.O.T. to drastically increase the emphasis on both local and innovative funding shares/options when reviewing discretionary grant applications. Rural communities are also more favored. Unlike most others, Summit County can claim both attributes.
The County Council wants to hear from you during the decision making process. To be a part of the conversation, before June 27, please contact any Council or staff member directly or send an email to MobilityMatters@summitcounty.org.