A low-interest loan from the Utah Community Impact Board will save Garfield County taxpayers some $700,000 in constructing a new gymnasium and auditorium at the Bryce Valley High School in Tropic.

The loan was obtained at 3.5 percent interest, to be repaid over a 15-year period, according to Superintendent Phillip Blais. A commercial loan, which had been under consideration following approved bonding, would have had a much higher interest rate than that of the CIB.The Garfield School District obtained a $1.5 million loan from the CIB, which also assures an earlier start in construction, the superintendent said. Garfield County will contribute equipment and some services in helping to build the facility.

Voters in the school district pledged by a 2-1 margin to go into debt for the gymnasium and auditorium. Present facilities are inadequate for school functions and are not safe when overcrowded. School officials anticipate that music, drama and speech programs will be enhanced with a new auditorium.

The gymnasium will have a seating capacity of 750 and will be used by both secondary and elementary students. The auditorium will seat 352 people.

Allocations amounting to $5 million have been received from the CIB in Garfield County during recent years, much of which has been for projects in Tropic. CIB revenue from mineral leases in Garfield County (the source from which the board gets its funding) has amounted to about $1 million.

Tropic also obtained state financing through the CIB and the Safe Drinking Water committee to develop a new source of water and improve the culinary distribution system. The CIB approved a $160,000 grant to drill a well, and authorized another $439,000 to help the community develop the well and install the distribution system.

Tropic residents experienced a critical loss of culinary water last summer when a spring went dry. They were forced to boil water and haul much of their drinking water from other communities.

Approval of a $425,000 loan from the Safe Drinking Water Committee hinged on finding water in the test hole. The well tapped an aquifer which produced more water than was expected, according to Mayor Robert Bradley. The test hole will be turned into a functioning well, thereby increasing Tropic's culinary water source.

Tropic residents have a low median household income, and grants amount to a state subsidy of $3,384 per existing connection. That compares to a funding average of $785 per hookup, according to a state government source.

Without state financing assistance, the town's residents would probably face another summer with a critical water shortage, use of the old and inadequate gym would continue and students would still have to use a lunchroom for an auditorium.