The Sevier County Commission hosted a public hearing Sept. 10, to gather comments about a proposal to build a community development center in Richfield.
The center would combine an aquatics center, community classrooms, indoor walking track and other elements. The goal is to address the need for improved recreation infrastructure for the three principal partners in the project — Richfield City, Sevier County and Snow College, said Richfield Mayor David Ogden.
“We feel like we have a great partnership,” Ogden said.
The hearing featured those supportive of the proposal, and those who were critical of it.
Those in support voiced that it would benefit the youth, help the Snow College Richfield campus grow and be one more thing to help Sevier County be a destination.
Those critical of the proposal said it could potentially raise taxes, and that it wouldn’t benefit the north half of the county.
“A high tide raises all boats,” Ogden said. “We’re in the same harbor.”
The hearing drew approximately 60 people, a third of whom spoke, said Sevier County Commissioner Ralph Brown.
If the bond gets voter approval, the property tax burden for people in Sevier County will still go down due to the fact the Sevier Valley Center will be paid off by that point.
However, Brown said the operation and maintenance of the facility would still be a concern. One idea was to use a portion of the county’s transient room tax to fund it’s $125,000 of annual operation and maintenance — with the city picking up $250,000 and the college covering another $125,000.
This could pose a problem for the county, according to Brown.
“We fund large scale events with that money,” Brown said. He said the county helps fund events at the SVC, the Blackhawk Arena in Salina and in other locations in the county. The goal of this funding is to bring people to the area for overnight stays. Since the hotels are the source of transient room tax, its a self-perpetuating fund, and taking money away from that could be detrimental, Brown said. He said local option restaurant taxes are likewise obligated already.
“We really don’t want to raise taxes,” Brown said.