Midway Almost Certain To Put Open Space Out To Voters
Midway City is close to issuing a bond referendum for open space conservation. If the City Council approves of the initiative, it will be on November’s ballot. Midway also faces the pending loss of a City Resort Tax amounting to $1.2 million in revenues. Carolyn Murray has this:
Midway Mayor Celeste Johnson has served for about 6 months. One of her priorities is to preserve open space which she says primarily includes agricultural areas and view corridors. She says they’re still working on the proposed $5 million bond language. Citizens of Midway have been surveyed and the message continues to be clear.
“Once that’s approved, then yes, it will go to the ballot. I would say we are 99% there. We did another survey. This has been our third survey. It was very similar results to the previous two. The interesting thing on this survey is we asked very specifically how would you like that bond money used and it was pretty even in all categories. Now, I think what that’s going to mean is, we will end up purchasing land where we can leverage our money the best…..conservation easements, purchasing development rights, things like that. Now, on the survey we had many people willing to spend more than that.”
$5 million doesn’t buy a lot of property that’s already slated for development. For the average homeowner in Midway, it would add about $200.00 a year to their property tax bill.
Johnson doesn’t think there is an opposing interest between the $15 million Wasatch County Open Space Bond initiative and a Midway bond proposal.
“Because it’s spread out over many, many more homes the cost of doing that to an average home owner in the County is about $12.00 a year. I suppose if it were another 200 for county and 200 for Midway residents, it would be conflicting. But to me, it’s just all in the same pot.”
August 22nd is the deadline to get the bond on the ballot for November.
The Utah State Tax Commission just notified Midway that in 2019, they will not be able to collect a City Resort Tax. Because the permanent population has grown, they’re no longer eligible to collect the tax under the resort community classification. Johnson says the budget impacts of losing the tax revenues has been on her radar but they were taken by surprise because it was not supposed to take effect until 2021, after the next census. It’s a hit of about $1.2 million to Midway’s budget over the next two years.
“To have that hit that much sooner…so we are frantically working with getting things set up with the Tax Commissioner, possibly even the Governor to see what we can possibly do about that. I’ve been trying to arrange for some sort of a sliding scale…uh not get rid of the tax all at once. We’re still a resort community. Just because we have a lot more permanent residents doesn’t take away that…we are still a resort community.”
Johnson says they’re scrambling to find other ways to access resort tax revenues including a one percent Transient Room Tax and a RAP tax.