The Heber City Council heard from Utah State Rep. Mike Kohler at its Tuesday regular meeting.
Kohler represents District 54, which comprises Wasatch County and the Park City area, on Capitol Hill. He told the Heber councilors that the state anticipates receiving nearly $1.5 billion in American Rescue Act funds.
He thinks the process for determining which projects or programs get the money will be extensive.
“At least the leadership's talking about postponing almost all of it until a little bit further on as they develop through the interim and then maybe even the next session, a process rather than blow it,” Kohler said. “We have three years to spend it, but it doesn't hurt to get some projects in the works that you might be thinking about and develop a presentation."
Kohler said state has been trying to secure funding for the Heber Valley Railroad.
"Trains behind on track maintenance, and we've worked on that for 20 years trying to get some kind of ongoing support,” he said. “They're doing well to keep themselves afloat, but not having enough to, to maintain it as they should. And we worked on it last year. There are several legislators who are against entities like this. In fact, many of them would like to sell it, make it private, or get rid of it."
The Utah Department of Transportation has presented the plans for an environmental impact statement that would outline the future construction of a Heber City bypass road. Kohler said UDOT would run a model that will be the lowest possible cost.
"As an entity, if we and the county and the cities get together and actually present a unified plan, you'll get something that you want even though it may not be the lowest cost,” he said. “The county's made an effort to start to accumulate some of the bypass areas as has Heber City. Right before the Olympics, they improved the road into town, and they did that because Heber City Main Street didn't want to lose the business, and everybody knows we've watched I-15 develop, some of these towns that were bypassed. The first presentation I saw, we'd go from River Road exit to the gravel pit and totally bypass Heber."
On another subject, House Bill 98, a bill that would have allowed a building applicant to hire a third-party inspector to conduct inspections and issue occupancy certificates in some circumstances was vetoed during the legislature’s general session.
"It's going to come back in some form, probably some there's some effort next year to do it for commercial buildings as well,” Kohler said. “Now, not to suggest that all towns and cities and counties have trouble with building development processes. But if you've been in the development business very long, you understand that, I've been on both sides, where I'm trying to get a project through and working on one now that's frustrating as can be. I've been on the other side where there are reasons why there are times it takes, and there's rules to be followed to make it consistent. Somewhere we've got to get that together and there are places in the State that were illustrated, where the abuse of power on the development side against some, was pretty obvious."