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Snyderville Recreation Budget Prompts Questions About Users, Fees

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The Snyderville Recreation District budget for 2020, with its planned tax increase, brought out criticism from some locals about the District’s level of spending.

It also brought out discussion about how the District should serve its users—and how the users should pay for what the District provides.       

As we reported, the District proposed a 72 percent tax increase for O and M.   With the District’s  debt service payments factored in, it’s a 29 percent increase.

We talked to County Council Member Roger Armstrong about two Basin residents who appeared Wednesday to object.

As Armstrong noted, a Silver Springs resident said she supported Open Space preservation by the District, but she doesn’t want to see money spent for trails development.

Another speaker, said Armstrong, was a man from the Glen Wilde area. 

“The other person said that, if you want something, you should pay for it.   The user should pay for it, nobody else.  I’m not sure that works.   It doesn’t work in schools, it doesn’t work in a variey of areas.  And again, I think our residents have been very, very clear about where they value our trails and our trail system.   It generally comes up as the highest desire in Basin Rec’s surveys when they conduct surveys.  It’s become a defining feature, I think, of our community.  We derive property values out of it, we derive health values out of it.”

Residents at public hearings also complained about non-county residents flocking to the Basin’s trails or parks, but not paying anything for them.    Armstrong agreed they should come up with some way to monitor and charge those users.     

“Our taxpayers pay for the trail facilities and all of our rec facilities.  And if you’re outside of the county, and you haven’t contributed to that, then you should pay something.  How we implement that, and more important, how we enforce it, becomes the challenge.  We’ve got 92 miles of trails, and accessing a trail at some point where nobody knows whether or not you’ve got a tag, is probably not the hardest thing to do.  We see everything from enforcing leash laws to building codes to nightly-rental violations.  The bottom of it all is enforcement.  So we can and we should put these fee systems in place for users outside the county.   But we’ve got to figure out the other piece of it, if somebody doesn’t pay, if

somebody doesn't step up, how do we deal with that."

He added they also have to deal with large commercial groups coming to the trails.

Armstrong said that County Attorney Margaret Olson is assembling a group to study the issue.

The critics this week also suggested that the Basin Fieldhouse should charge fees and become self-supporting.     But Armstrong said that can exclude people.         

“People advocate for a fee-based system, that we shouldn’t have taxes to support these efforts.   Instead we should go to fees.  And when we do that, we cut out portions of the community that can’t afford the fees.   I mean, the Solomon Fund has been terriffic about helping kids that otherwise might not be able to afford recreational opportunities in our community, afford them, and that’s a non-profit.”

Summit County Council Member Roger Armstrong

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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