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Wasatch County to consider sales tax to pay for public transit

High Valley Transit
High Valley Transit offers rides from on-demand microtransit shuttles in Summit County as part of its free service. Wasatch County is considering expanding the service into the Heber Valley.

With the arrival of June, the Wasatch County Council is ramping up efforts to bring public transit to the Heber Valley. To do so, it may levy a sales tax to help pay for buses, which is a topic scheduled for discussion in Wednesday’s council meeting.

As Wasatch County looks at extending High Valley Transit service into Heber City, two main questions it’s considering are how to fund it and how much service to offer.

High Valley Transit began providing free transportation in Summit County in 2021. A High Valley Transit study proposed a route from Heber City to Park City and microtransit for Wasatch County to consider. Microtransit means on-demand rideshare shuttles that work like Uber and Lyft but are free.

County Manager Dustin Grabau will propose a sales tax in Wednesday’s meeting that could be a future funding source. It would levy 0.25% on all in-county sales transactions, or a penny for every $4 spent. It could generate an estimated $2.5 million in 2023. That’s what the council will discuss Wednesday, but it won’t take a vote until June 15.

According to Grabau, the .25% tax would cover about 1/3 of the annual funding for a minimal transit service. The county may seek to levy at least two additional taxes of the same amount. He said all three together could fund an hourly route from Heber to Park City and some microtransit shuttles.

The tax the council will discuss Wednesday doesn’t require voter approval, but the council will use input from an open house next Tuesday and its June 15 meeting to consider whether to move forward.

Later this year, the county may consider sales tax options that would require the public to approve them.

The county asks residents to give feedback about whether they would use public transit, as well as whether they would support new sales taxes, at next week’s open house. It’s at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7 at the Wasatch County Senior Center.

The council meeting Wednesday begins at 3 p.m. at the Wasatch County Administration Building. To attend via Zoom, visit wasatch.utah.gov.

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