The Richfield City Council discussed the proposal to create a community development center — including an aquatics facility — with county officials June 25.
“Some things have been going in a circle,” said Richfield Mayor David Ogden. He said the center is being pursued for multiple reasons including the fact that the city’s current swimming pool is in need of replacement.
It is also a facility that can improve the region’s offerings to attract events, which can help bring more business to the area and enhance employment opportunities. The center would also address quality of life issues, providing a place for people to recreate, Ogden said.
“This is a place for everyone … for families to come and enjoy each other,” Ogden said. He said since the center would be located near Snow College Richfield, it could also be used to help enhance the college’s offerings.
The center is proposed to be located on land owned by Snow, which would be leased to the city for $1 per year for up to 70 years, Ogden said.
“We think we’ve found a way to do this without raising taxes,” Ogden said. He said using money from a bond payment the city will be finished with this year would allow the city to absorb approximately $6 million of debt obligation for the project.
The county could pay another $6 million if a tax currently being used to pay for the Sevier Valley Center is kept in place once that obligation is paid off, Ogden said.
Other funding may be secured from the Utah Legislature, as well as a funding package from the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board and donations from private foundations, according to Ogden. He said the total cost would be some $24 million.
“If we are positive with this, it can happen,” Ogden said.
However, there would be hurdles, said Malcolm Nash, Sevier County economic development director. He said the county would have to hold a bond election in order to keep the amount currently being spent on the SVC bond in place.
“I have some great concerns with this project,” said Connie Nielsen, council member. She said other communities have a larger base from which to drive use of a recreation facility.
Nielsen also said she was concerned about partnering with the college as well as the potential costs.
“I just don’t see how we can do without raising taxes,” Nielsen said. “One third of our community is at poverty level.”
Councilmember Bryan Burrows said he also has some hesitation when it comes to the proposal.
“We do obviously have to do something,” Burrows said. “I’ve heard from quite a few people who think this is being shoved down their throat.”
Councilmember Richard Barnett said there is a window of opportunity for the project, but it will take a lot of work to make it happen.
“We would be naïve to think there isn’t going to be challenges,” Barnett said. “It isn’t going to be easy.”
Barnett said there seems to be a disconnect between the various proposed partners in the project, and even among city council members.
“For some reason the parties are reticent to go over the pro forma report together,” Barnett said.
Pat Wilson, former business administrator for Sevier School District, has been volunteering to help with the project.
“I can answer a lot of your questions,” Wilson said. Using other communities as a model, Wilson said he has created a report that details how the facility would be paid for, how much operations and maintenance money can be recovered through use and how the facility would function.
“But you will have to let me walk you through the pro forma,” Wilson said.
Nash suggested the city council, Sevier County Commission, key legislators and Snow College’s president sit down and go through the information together.
“At least then we would all be on the same page,” Nash said. “We need to have a fairly candid discussion, schedule some time and get into the weeds on this.”
The council approved setting a meeting for Monday, July 15, 9 a.m., to go through the report with the other proposed partners.
In other business, the council —
• Approved the acceptance of a proposal to keep workers compensation insurance with the Utah Local Governments Trust for $35,122 this year.
“We like to support local wherever we can,” Nielsen said. Two proposals were submitted — one compiled by the Richfield office of Sorensen-Leavitt Insurance Agency. The difference between the two proposals was approximately $5,500.
“We are always for shopping local, but when you’re dealing with tax dollars, you have to go with the low bid,” said Kathy Christensen, councilmember.
• Approved a policy designed to administer how and when personal use of city owned equipment is allowed.
“The way the law reads is if this pen is owned by the city and someone used it for something personal, it would be a felony,” said Richfield Police Chief Trent Lloyd, who adapted the policy from one already in use by Sevier County.
He said while he agrees that city property shouldn’t be used for personal things, a policy allowing some discretion with how it is enforced is important.
The policy reads as follows — The Richfield City Police Department authorizes limited personal use of city property by city employees if such use is de minimus, incidental and satisfies each of the following criteria — (a) employee is authorized to use or possess the public property to fulfill job duties; (b) primary purpose of use or possession is to fulfill job duties; (c) public value of use or possession substantially outweighs personal benefit; (d) imposes little or no cost to the city; (e) use is brief, limited in scope and of reasonable duration; (f) does not interfere with the use of the property for city business; (g) does not disrupt the performance of the employee’s official duties; and (h) does not create risk of liability or harm to the city.
The policy also spells out several things that are strictly prohibited, including any use for personal gain or compensation, any use associated with an outside business or private employment, any use for promoting, advertising, or soliciting for an outside unrelated group and unaffiliated organization, any use for assisting a campaign for election or political gain and any use prohibited by federal or state law or city police.
• Approved the city paying for the liability insurance for the Sevier Valley Community Theater for 2019’s performance of ‘The Little Mermaid.”