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Summit County Wants Larger Role In Transit Partnership With Park City Municipal

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A meeting between Summit County and Park City is likely in the offing—given that the county’s funding in the area transit system has more than tripled in recent years, and County Council members indicate they want to help drive the system, not just ride along.

County Manager Tom Fisher refrains from characterizing the situation as a conflict. He says the county wants to talk about how they participate—fairly—in a more regional transit system.

Members of the county council held a transportation summit last week. Fisher said the council members didn’t exactly express demands about their role in the system. He said the county wants to have a discussion.

“It’s been growing over the years where both entities have worked hard to put in place significant revenues in order to expand transit services in the area.” Fisher explained, “Even start to look beyond into Wasatch County, down to Heber. We’ve expanded to Kamas, we’d like to do more expansion out to the rest of the county. Perhaps enhance services down to Salt Lake City as well. All of that means that the county council, since they’re receiving that revenue, has an opinion on how to deal with that. What to project, and what things we should be trying to do in the future.”

He said that the county is contributing some $9.68 million to the area transit system. With that funding, he said, comes greater responsibility for the county to be involved.

“I think they’re looking at what does it look like in the future about how we participate and how the county participates and how the county’s voice is heard within that process. How those revenues are programed and how we provide and what our total transit services and what is our overall goal of getting people out of cars and onto busses.”

Fisher said both governments want a good system. The county’s interest has evolved significantly over the past decade.

“Realistically you go back to the 2015 year and before, we really weren’t positioned to do that. We didn’t have expertise on staff. We didn’t have the revenues to really participate more than we already were. Going back to the original agreements of 2006 and revised in 2009 I think there was less interest at those times by the county council and county commissions to really be a part of the governance of that system. With the increased revenues and with the increased interest in solving traffic, transportation and congestion problems in the county, I think the council wants to talk about that.

Fisher didn’t agree with the characterization that Park City is unwilling to let the county get more involved in the system.

“We haven’t had that conversation to talk about willingness. It’s not a lack of willingness to talk about it. I think Park City has been a great partner in transit. I think it’s simply we haven’t gotten around to talking about the modern reality of where we’re at with the transit system.” Fisher said that a regional transit system is an option, “That is one of the options. There’s a whole range of options that could be discussed in order to satisfy what the county council might talk about. The whole point of the meeting the other day was to really get the county council centered on what is the message you want to send.”

We asked him if the county wants to control some particular items in a regional system.

“Certainly, that’s an extreme position that could be taken; that there’s something that the county really wants to take control of. It could also be very inefficient to do it that way to have duplicative administration around operations. That doesn’t serve the stretch of that dollar as well. So that’s part of the conversation that has to be had.”

Fisher added that a city-county meeting will likely come in February after busy transit times with the holidays, Sundance and the World Cup.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covers Summit County meetings and issues. KPCW snagged him from The Park Record in the '80s, and he's been on air and covering the entire county ever since. He produces the Week In Review podcast, as well a heads the Friday Film Review team.
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