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Summit Council Contemplates Dakota Project , Budget And Work Plan For 2021

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The Summit County Council only has one more official meeting for the year.
But some of the items on their agenda Wednesday are a forecast of what lies ahead.   The Council considered their work plan for 2021.
And they continued their review of the proposed Dakota Pacific project at Kimball Junction—which will return to their agenda next month.  

County Council member Glenn Wright said it looks like they’re in the home stretch with their review of Dakota Pacific.    On Wednesday, they had their last informational work session with the applicants, who want to create a commercial/residential center on the land approved for the Boyer Tech Park 12 years ago.
Wright said they’ve received most of the information they need from the developers.   But they might well have other questions after getting public comment.   The hearing will likely come up on January 20th or a week before that.
The applicants on Wednesday presented data about the project’s economic impact, projecting it would see an annual $358 million in economic activity.
Wright said, though, the tax revenue from the project isn’t all headed for the county.

“Over half of the sales tax revenue actually goes to the state.  So one of the things I mentioned to them is, we need to get the state to start using some of that money in Kimball Junction to fund the Kimball Junction interchange project.  My calculations are on the order of $400,000 or so will come to the county from the sales tax revenue.  And actually considerably less than that in property tax, cause the majority of that goes to the school district.   And by law we are not allowed to consider school district funding, or impacts on schools.”
He said the project could diversify Summit County’s economy.

“We need to diversity the economy.    I think it’s obvious with what’s happened in the last year, with the Covid pandemic.  And as we look forward the next couple of decades, we’ll be skiing 20 years from now, you and I.   The next generation will not be skiing when they’re our age.  We need to have a game plan to diversify the county’s economy, bringing additional office space in this area that could have higher-paid jobs, I think can be productive.  But part of the issue is, can we provide the right ratio of housing along with the project.”
The county’s Economic Development Director, Jeff Jones, has also done some research on the employee traffic that comes to Summit County, and leaves it, each day.   That raises a question related to Dakota’s impact.

“For someone who moves into the county to work, and that’s 16,000 every day—they may earn their keep in the county.  But businesses provide some economic revenue for the county.   But all that salary revenue from those employees are being spent in their home counties.  So it’s really important for us to attract more live-and-work-in-Summit-County jobs.”
Wright said he was gratified that developers seem to have picked up some of his ideas for Sustainability in the project.   But the details there will get fleshed out in a prospective Development Agreement.
The county staff was also directed to bring back further analysis of the project’s burden on county services, which Wright said will be mostly on roads and the Sheriff.
Also on Wednesday’’s agenda, the Council approved their Work Plan for next year.     Wright said he’d like to see how the county’s environmental goals could be incorporated into the planning code.   He noted some ideas they heard recently from senior planner Peter Barnes.

“A building’s carbon footprint per capita-you take a 5 or 10,000-square-foot house with a heated driveway, and compare that to a 5 or 10,000-square-foot penthouse in a high-rise building, particularly if that building is a zero-energy building.  The difference in carbon footprint per capita for the people living in those areas is dramatic.    And that scales down to even your typical single-family house.’
The Council also passed the budget for 2021.    The only public comment they got was from a South Summit resident who brought up some items about maintenance of Marion Park.
The Council also approved hiring two more staff planners.   Wright said those can be financed out of fund balances.

“And the good news on fund balances is, since we did our last Truth In Taxation, we’ve really strengthened our fund balances.   And we have in the General and Municipal funds combined about $15 million that can be used for those purposes.   This type of economic slowdown that we’re going through is exactly what those were designed for.  In total, for next year’s budget, I believe the total take out of the fund balance’ll be on the order of about a million dollars.  So we’ll still be pretty well stocked.”
Summit County Council member Glenn Wright.

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