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Wasatch County to change policy for financing new development

The Wasatch County administration building in Heber City.
Rob Winder
The Wasatch County administration building in Heber City.

The Wasatch County Council is considering changes to the county’s policy on public infrastructure districts.

Public infrastructure districts, or PIDs, are a relatively new way for local governments to pay for things the public needs like roads and utilities.

PIDs use bonds to fund infrastructure. Those bonds are then repaid by levying property taxes or special assessments in the project area, meaning residents could be charged extra fees to repay the debt.

It’s up to the county council to approve or deny PID applications, and the public can weigh in during that process.

Wasatch County set up a PID policy last year, and now, it’s discussing some tweaks that could expand where the financing mechanism is used.

County manager Dustin Grabau said the policy can be used for commercial areas anywhere in the county. While PIDs for residential areas haven’t been allowed so far, the county now plans to loosen requirements so projects in the Jordanelle Basin can apply.

“Part of the change that we’re considering is targeting the Jordanelle Basin, because we feel that area of the county is where the demand for growth is and where that growth goes in a way that it doesn’t impact the Heber Valley quite as much,” he said.

He said PIDs don’t have any impact on zoning requirements where they’re implemented, so it won’t increase density in the county.

The change, if approved, could affect several areas around the Jordanelle Reservoir.

“Areas that this would affect right now are areas like Benloch, Jackson Fork… portions adjacent to Tuhaye,” Grabau said. “And there are other potential projects around the Mayflower area that are under county jurisdiction.”

He said the tool could bring public infrastructure to those areas more quickly.

“For instance, the Deer Crest area has commitments to build additional public parking and other things like that,” he said. “Borrowing the money through PID makes it more feasible for those to be realized earlier, which I think would benefit everyone in that general area.”

A final decision about the change to public infrastructure district policy is forthcoming. The proposed changes can be found on Wasatch County’s website.