Spanish Fork raises property taxes for additional funds toward rec center project | News, Sports, Jobs

Spanish Fork raises property taxes for additional funds toward rec center project | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy Spanish Fork City

The Spanish Fork City Council. Back row from left: Shane Marshall, Brandon Gordon, Chad Argyle, Kevin Oyler. Front row from left: Mayor Mike Mendenhall, Stacy Beck.

The Spanish Fork City Council held a truth-in-taxation public hearing Tuesday evening and approved the 0.001111% tax rate that was proposed in June.

Spanish Fork City Manager Seth Perrins said the city proposed a property tax increase to provide additional funds to construct a recreation center, which would include indoor and outdoor pools and a senior center. The increase would raise property taxes from approximately $223 to approximately $282, costing property owners approximately an additional $5 a month or $60 a year for a home valued around $460,000, the average in the city. Businesses of the same value would see an approximate $107 raise in property taxes per year.

Perrins said the recreation center would include a senior center with all needed amenities: indoor and outdoor pools with various play apparatus and lazy river/water slides, an indoor competition pool with spectator seating, a sun deck with shade structures, an indoor track, a fitness/aerobics/cross training center, a weight training area, two full-size basketball courts and a multipurpose gym, racquetball courts and a day care.

Perrins said the city sent out about 8,000 surveys to Spanish Fork residents to get an idea of what recreational services and activities residents are using and/or want Spanish Fork to offer.

He showed a word cloud of responses from city survey participants who answered the question, “What recreational activities, facilities or programs do you use or participate, including any outside of Spanish Fork?” A word cloud will have the most used words be the largest seen in the cloud, highlighting what the most common responses were. The biggest and most bold phrase in the word cloud was “rec center.” Another word cloud also highlighted “rec center” as the top response to what programs or facilities the public would be interested in using that isn’t currently offered in Spanish Fork.

Funding for the project is currently being estimated as no official plans have been created yet for this project. According to a presentation given by Perrins, 40% of the project would be funded via the city’s Recreation, Art and Parks (RAP) Tax, 40% by property tax, 10% sales tax and 5% from impact fees and other sources.

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“This would have roughly five sources of payments to pay the bond payment,” Perrins said. “So, to build this project, it’s about $60 million. The annual bond payment with interest rates and everything … would be about $3 million a year. RAP tax and property tax both would pay about $1.2 million, sales tax would contribute about $300,000 and those 5% categories would be about $150,000 each. That is a collected formula that we can do.”

Finance Director Jordan Hales explained how property tax bills are calculated. The Utah County assessor sets the taxable property value, which is multiplied by the tax rate set by the governing body of each taxing entity, Hales said, and that figure equates to the property tax bill.

He also explained where property taxes go after they are paid. The Nebo School District receives almost 76.7% of property taxes, Spanish Fork City gets 11.2%, 5.7% goes to Utah County and the Central Utah Water Conservancy District collects 4%. Based on a property taxpayer with average home value and a 45% residential tax exemption, Hales said a property owner would pay approximately $2,500 in taxes for 2022. A total of that amount would go to each taxing entity based on the percentage it was set to receive.

When the floor was opened up for public comment, the council members heard a variety of reactions about raising property taxes and the proposed project.

Spanish Fork resident Jake Mayor said he didn’t believe the public was being listened to.

“We’ve been shown that 1,400 people provided feedback on this, but I think it needs to be on the elections,” Mayor said. “We need to vote on it. There’s a lot of citizens that don’t want this. This was two years ago, but Councilman Stacy Beck said they don’t have plans to raise taxes in the future, but it will depend on what the citizens want the city to provide. Councilman Brandon Gordon said the council has no plans to build a pool or rec center with associated tax hike. So, there are things said here that I don’t have faith in.”

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Laurie Stewart said she wasn’t for the recreation center and that she agreed with Mayor.

“I feel like the council has made the decision and I for one do not want it,” she said. “I would rather vote because I feel like you have to go door to door, otherwise it feels like the louder people are being heard. I would just like to have this on a vote to not have the recreation center.”

Linda Bartholomew said she had mixed feelings about the property tax increase.

“I am living on a fixed income,” Bartholomew said. “When my husband died, he hadn’t officially retired, so I only get half of it. My budget is really tight, but I do think this would be great for the city. If it was the only increase, that would be great, but the Nebo School District kicking up their taxes is going to kill me. It feels like we are being hit so much with taxes, inflation and a possible recession. I think we do need a swimming pool and recreation center, but I’m concerned for those who are going to have a hard time paying.”

Speaking in favor of the measure was Doug Ford, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee.

“As a committee, the consensus was to recommend moving forward with this to the city council,” Ford said. “For me personally, I am a business owner, and this tax increase will be significant for me, but I still think it’s a good idea. I probably won’t use the facility much at all, but I think it’s a great idea for the community. I am willing to pay to support the project.”

Councilman Chad Argyle addressed a few concerns that were made said during public comment.

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“Understand that the rec center is not built, and a lot of decisions are going to have to take place if we build it,” he said. “Even if we vote this tonight, there’s still a long road down. Councilman (Shane) Marshall made it clear when we were talking one day that if this was to be Spanish Fork’s rec center, this has to be available to every single citizen in Spanish Fork. He said if we don’t do that, then we have failed our opportunity to do this.”

Mayor Mike Mendenhall mentioned a possible idea that would aid low-income or fixed-income individuals with funds to use the recreation center.

“I’ve had so many people say, ‘I’ll gladly pay for my neighbor,’” Mendenhall said. “So, we talked about having a potential account for — let’s say a large donor gave a million dollars. That million would go into the account and collect interest. That would be an opportunity for people on fixed incomes or single parents to be able to have an opportunity.”

Mendenhall asked Perrins if that would be legal for the city to do.

“We are bound by state laws on how we use our moneys and how it can grow,” Perrins replied. “I think the best of times, our interest rates are 2.5%, and at the worst its 4%. The city could do that. If there was someone who wanted to donate that large of a fund, it would probably be better for them to create some other entity to manage the money themselves and then partner with the city to pay that for them. I’m just spit-balling ideas here.”

After each taking turns sharing their thoughts on the tax increase and recreation center project, the council members voted unanimously to approve the tax rate and adopt the city’s 2022-2023 fiscal year budget including the new property tax rate.


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