Officials who have been working on the proposal to build a regional community development/recreation center have been giving presentations to city and town councils, speaking at public hearings and public open houses.
One of the latest was one hosted at the Richfield City Fire Station Oct. 9.
Pat Wilson, former financial director for Sevier School District, gave a detailed overview of what the project is, what it will costs and why it is being pursued.
“This is an opportunity that will only come once,” Wilson said. He said the combination of bonds being paid off for the Sevier Valley Center and Cove View Golf Course, along with the willingness of Snow College to participate, makes for a prime opening to build a facility that benefits the region.
“We can’t do it alone, but if we work together we can,” Wilson said. He said the partnership used to create the SVC is a model for how the new center will be constructed and managed.
If it passes, what will this bond election cost me?
• If the bond passes, it will result in approximately $18.31 a year on a home valued at $150,000, and $33.29 for a business of the same value.
• Sevier County has proposed an additional tax increase of $5.50 a year for a home with a value of $150,000.
• The total tax increase would still be less than what is currently being paid on the Sevier Valley Center, which is approximately $26 a year on home worth $150,000.
• The tax would be for a 10-year bond, however, the $5.50 a year would remain in place.
• The bond would be for a total of $3.5 million, which would be leveraged in an application to the Utah Community Impact Fund Board, a half loan/half grant funding package of $7 million total.
How will funding for the rest of the facility work?
Wilson described the funding process as a puzzle with several pieces that have to fit together in order for the facility to become a reality. The pieces are as follows —
• Bond election — If the county bond election passes, Richfield City and Sevier County will be able to approach the CIB.
• CIB — If the CIB is favorable to the project, and funds the county’s application and the city’s application both at 50 percent grant and 50 percent loan, it would give the county $7 million and the city $8 million heading into the project. A total of $15 million for construction.
• Utah Legislature — A special appropriation from the Utah Legislature requested through Snow College would be the next step. This $7 million request, if approved, would give the facility a total of $22 million, which would be enough to build the facility.
• Private foundations — “Private foundations are never going to be first dollar,” Wilson said. However, he said if communities have enough capital ready to go, private foundations are often favorable to making large donations. This could account for $1 million or more, which would allow for amenities.
How does one keep costs from getting out of control?
“We control the costs through design and square footage,” Wilson said.
Wilson said by using other facilities as models for the construction process, costs will be controlled. A similar facility in Springville has given organizers a lot of information.
“This is not a replica of theirs, but it is similar,” Wilson said. He said Loveland, Colorado, has also completed a study for a similar structure, which has also yielded good information.
“It’s a simple calculation,” Wilson said. He said planning for $21 million, which shaves $1 million off the top of what is being proposed as a contingency, that still allows for a 55,000-square foot facility to be built.
What about operation costs?
Operation and maintenance of the facility has been an issue of contention. However, Wilson said, using a very conservative estimate, the facility itself is projected to generate $374,000.
Operation and maintenance costs, which have continued capital improvements and repairs factored in, would run approximately $876,000 each year, leaving approximately $500,000 that would be needed for the facility to operate.
The breakdown for these costs is as follows —
• $250,000, Richfield City — This money would be rolled over from the city’s current pool operating budget. The city’s current pool would be closed in favor of the center. In the fiscal year 2018-19, Richfield City paid some $400,000 in operation costs at its pool, allowing for some growth in expenses for the new facility.
• $125,000, Sevier County — This would be paid through the aforementioned bump in property taxes. This would amount to $5.50 a year on a home worth $150,000.
• $125,000, Snow College — As part of the college’s ongoing commitment and utilization of the facility, this money would be approved through the state of Utah.
What will I have to pay to use it?
A price comparison with other facilities throughout the state was conducted. This price analysis showed individual admission ranging between $2.50 and $6 per person. The proposal would be for adults to pay $5, and children $4.
All users regardless of where they live would pay the same rates.
Who will own/manage the facility?
The property the facility is to be located on is owned by Snow College, and will be leased to Richfield City for $1 a year.
Richfield City will manage the day-to-day operation of the facility. However, a governing board including the city, Sevier County and Snow College will make the management and direction decisions concerning the facility.
When will the center open?
The time line tentatively has the facility projected to be completed in summer 2022. This can change due to construction and design schedules.
What is this community development center?
The center is both a recreation complex and community development facility, Wilson said.
“Communities need recreation,” Wilson said. He said cities and towns are trying to attract businesses and people who have diverse interests. He said the center is intended to aid in economic development as well as to address quality of life issues.
The center is another step in a 50-year strategy to keep Sevier County as a relevant destination and not a pass through, Wilson said.
Other projects that have been completed in this long-term plan include the Sevier Valley Center, the Blawkhawk Arena, Cove View Golf Course’s expansion to 18 holes and even events such as the Rocky Mountain Jamboree.
What are the benefits to the partners?
The facility is envisioned as something that will benefit the three principal partners — Sevier County, Richfield City and Snow College.
Richfield City’s primary interest is in the pool, Wilson said. The city’s current pool facility is decaying with age, and won’t be able to stay open for very many more years, Wilson said.
The county’s primary benefit would come from the competition pool portion of the facility.
Having an eight lane competition pool with spectator area will allow for multiple invitational meets — each lasting two or three days — to be hosted. The swim meets would bring in hundreds of people, who will need hotel rooms, meals and gas, Wilson said.
Snow College will reap the benefits of the gymnasium and classroom portions of the facility, as well as the pools. The facility, located adjacent to the school, would allow for a large boost in student life on the Richfield campus, Wilson said.
With many families in Sevier County making regular trips to aquatics facilities in Manti, Cedar City and even further, one goal is to provide a resource closer to home for people to enjoy, while also attracting people from outlying communities as far away as Panguitch, Fillmore and Ephraim.
Wilson told the story of talking with a businessman in town about a project years ago. The project didn’t appear to have any direct benefit to his office supplies store, so Wilson asked the man why he supported it.
“He told me ‘I may not get the first dollar, but I well get the third or fourth,’” Wilson said. The business owner explained attracting more people to town meant other businesses would benefit, using more office supplies, eventually trickling down to his store.
“It was a great lesson for me,” Wilson said. “Everyone wants the first dollar, but dollars turn. However, if dollars don’t come in, they don’t turn.”
A complete power point presentation is online at richfieldreaper.com.