SALT LAKE CITY — A divided Salt Lake County Council voted Tuesday to put on hold a proposal to bond $110 million to build new parks and upgrade existing parks and golf courses throughout the county.
The council voted 5-3 to table the proposal over concerns about the slow economic recovery. There were also concerns about putting the issue on the ballot this year during an off-year election when too few people vote. Some council members were also troubled about using 25 percent of the bond proceeds to pay for deferred maintenance of county recreational facilities.
Councilman Steve Debry said the proposal suffered from poor timing, particularly as some local governments consider tax increases to balance budgets.
"When is it going to end? I believe our citizens are being taxed to death," DeBry said.
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, whose administration had proposed placing the matter on the ballot this fall to take advantage of favorable interest rates and construction costs, said the council's objections were "short-sighted."
"Assuming people won't vote, that's a bad assumption," Corroon said.
Councilwoman Jani Iwamoto said community councils, mayors, city council members and even opponents favored putting the matter before voters this fall.
Iwamoto said some of the most conservative constituents in her district said the issue should go before voters in November.
"One of them told me, 'Of course it should go to the voters. I'm not stupid. I want to vote it down,'" she said. Iwamoto voted against tabling the proposal.
Although the County Council has put off the matter for now, Corroon said his administration welcomed the council's direction to further develop the proposal. Council members want more information about the costs of deferred maintenance throughout the county and a final project list.
"I think it will give us time to work on it and refine it and be ready for it to be on the ballot next year," Corroon said.
Early in Tuesday's discussion, the council discussed removing the Salt Lake Regional Athletic Complex, which is primarily a soccer facility, from the project list.
Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw said he was troubled by the prospect of the county bonding for the facility when Salt Lake City had not released $15.3 million in bonds approved by voters in 2003.
Seventy-five percent of the proposed county parks bond, $82.5 million, was designated for developing new parks in Draper, Bluffdale, on the border of West Valley City and Kearns along with trail construction along the Jordan River and Parleys Trail.
As proposed, remaining funds would be used for capital improvements to existing parks and golf courses, such as new restrooms, picnic pavilions and other infrastructure.
The 25-year bond was expected to cost the owner of a home valued at $200,000 about $14 in property tax each year.
Earlier, Corroon said placing it on the 2011 ballot would insulate the issue from the politics of the county mayor's race in 2012. Corroon is not seeking re-election.
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