Mt. Pleasant eye parks tax, will schedule hearings
By Rhett Wilkinson
MT. PLEASANT—The City Council voted to “move forward” on a parks tax.
Particularly, that includes holding a public hearing on the item and submitting the tax to the Utah lieutenant governor’s office before the end of August so it can go on the 2020 ballot.
Councilman Samuel Draper moved for a motion in the council’s July 28 meeting to move forward on the tax. It was seconded by Councilman Rondy Black and passed unanimously.
John Bradley, community services director for Santaquin presented on parks taxes before the council, with some commentary from Mt. Pleasant Mayor Michael Olsen.
Bradley said that the tax is one-tenth of one percent (one penny on every $10 that is spent) and is a 10-year tax, so it doesn’t have to be voted on every year.
“It’s crazy how much it adds …. very small at a time, but it accrues significantly over the year,” Bradley told the Sanpete Messenger.
It’s a “good tax” because it’s not a property tax and because not just residents, but “everyone [who] comes through your town,” pays, Bradley said.
“Funds also help pay for things that wouldn’t have been able to be afforded,” Bradley said. A committee made up of residents would make recommendations to the city council, with the mayor and city council ultimately approving how to use the funds, Bradley said.
Ephraim has decided to put a recreation, arts and parks tax on its ballot, Bradley said. (The tax is a parks tax but covers more.)
Bradley also talked about an “information campaign” in which the councilmen would “educate” residents, communicating the “pros” and “cons.”
Bradley also mentioned Vineyard, Utah, which had a voter pamphlet, passing their parks tax by a “significant amount.”
In Santaquin, Bradley and staff were anticipating revenue from the tax of $49,000. By the time they spent the first-year amount, however, they were up to $56,000. They have used art funds in the revenue for park improvements, developing some summer-in-the-park programs, some improvements to the Chieftain Museum and building a disc golf course.
Bradley hasn’t found opposition to the parks tax except for it being a tax.
“But it’s small,” Bradley said. “You go to the gas station and pay $30, you pay three cents.”
Black asked what the increase would be. It is .001 percent.
“It is so minimal,” Bradley said. “It was like a home run.”
Olsen said that after meeting with Bradley, he was in the parking lot at Costco and thinking about the impact of the tax if it were in place, “even (at) 15 cents a person coming in the door,” Olsen said.
Bradley said that in Spanish Fork, Utah, a $5 million, all-abilities park is being built at least partially as a result of the parks tax.
“That’s just an example of money accrued and over time, they can save up,” Bradley said, adding that he knows that Payson City built a pickleball court and some basketball courts with its parks tax revenue.
Olsen asked if you must specify where revenue from a tax is going to go, be it sports, parks or arts.
“You don’t have to,” Bradley said. He added that every June, he goes through a process of reviewing applications for projects that want to benefit from the revenue. He noted that municipalities have a “full” year (from July 1 to the following July 1) to spend the money – and if they don’t, it goes back into a fund.
Councilman Kevin Stallings said that “People have to realize that it’s not a property tax, but it comes from a sales tax,” noting that since Mount Pleasant is one of those “travel-through communities,” the town could see a relatively handsome return from the tax.
If this is “something we want to do, (we) need to sell it to the voters,” Black said. “Because it’s ultimately up to the voters in November.”
Bradley reminded that the council provides the information before mentioning that in Nephi, he and others enjoyed the help of private donors while Bradley and others put out some yard signs and educated folks.
“The volunteer public helped pass it,” Bradley said.
Other news developments stemming from the meeting included:
Regarding dealing with the city’s deer issue, the council is going to “put it in the paper, put it up for a vote and hope it goes away,” Councilman Russell Keisel said.
“K, that’s what we’ll do,” Olsen responded.
Olsen had gotten “a couple” of calls about at-large deer.
Olsen did not return a request for additional comment.
The council’s discussion about the reported deer issue drew chuckles from audience members.
Stallings asked: “Are we getting a lot of complaints in city hall about deer in the city?”
Dave Oxman, treasurer for Mount Pleasant City, said “Not too often, but we have had them.”
Olsen said that the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources “doesn’t want to go through the system” with issues like deer.
Keisel then said that the city does “everything” and DWR doesn’t with such problems.
The city is “supposed to design, create and implement the plan,” Olsen noted.
“The DWR can be quite enjoyable and that’s sarcasm … to work with,” Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels said.
Manti’s deer plan, which is approved, calls for the city to kill the deer, Olsen said.
“The residents cannot do anything unless the city takes action,” Olsen said.
Transgender & bathrooms
“We had a transvestite run into the women’s locker room,” Keisel said.
Then he had a suggestion for where transgender women should go to the bathroom at Mount Pleasant City Aquatic Center.
“My suggestion is we use the family room,” Keisel said.
And there would be something else.
There would be a “sign on the women’s door that this is not a transgender bathroom,” said Keisel, who did not return a request for additional comment.
Keisel also wanted to know if the council could do that “without getting into a legal issue,” looking at Daniels, the attorney for the city.
“If that’s something you want to do … I can make sure it’s done properly,” Daniels said.
“I don’t get into the should; I get into the could.”
“It’s up to you,” Daniels added.
Olsen advocated to “throw it out there” for an adult to supervise at the aquatic center. He did not return a request for elaboration on that remark.
The problem, as Britanny Adams told the Messenger, is that parents, grandparents and patrons don’t listen to teenage staff at the center.
Adams, the center director, said that the staff is trained to enforce policies.
“All the rules that we have are for their safety,” Adams said. “A lot of parents do not understand that, don’t see that, don’t care.
“Having an adult there can sometimes be that factor where ‘OK, it’s not some 16-year-old telling them what to do,’” Adams said.
In “extenuating circumstances,” having an adult at the center to have that “level head” could be better, Adams said.
“It’s an interesting thing,” Adams added. “I’ve worked at three other pools and this is the only place where it’s been an issue … but it’s been interesting to deal with the special circumstances that have arisen.”
Adams replied “yes and no” to the question of if the older pools had older staff.
“It would be good to have adults there,” Adams said. “It would be a matter of training … so there’s no confusion.”
Adams, Olsen, Black, Stallings, Atkinson, Keisel and others had a discussion about the issue during the council meeting.
New P&Z member
Jason Clawson volunteered to be on the city’s Planning & Zoning committee. He was approved unanimously by the council.
The council voted 5-0 for a hookup fee plan that “would go retroactive and in the future,” Daniels said. Or, as Atkinson said, you “Pay whatever it is at that time.”
During the deer discussion, Daniels said that if somebody’s getting hit with a bow, you’re doing something wrong. “Or really right,” Public Works Superintendent Colter Allen responded, to laughs in the council room. Allen also said later “people need to beat their children” to bring about a desired result … The council approved claims of $73,072. Stallings said “It looks much better,” to a “yeah” from another councilman. … Daniels said that his office is not actively policing county governments following the open and public meetings act because they do not have the manpower or time.