On April 9 Utah County residents will have the opportunity to vote on a proposal to bond for $7.7 million for construction of an events center at Utah Valley Community College.
The bond should be approved. Here's why.The center is a bargain for county residents. UVCC will build a $10 million physical-education facility, regardless of whether the facility is enlarged to include an 8,500-seat events center. It is doubtful that a community events center could stand on its own anywhere in the valley.
If the county were to build a center on its own, land and building costs would be about $18 million, according to Utah County commissioners.
The proposed physical education-community events center has the same price tag, $18 million, but residents will pay only 40 percent of the cost of the facility.
Gov. Norm Bangerter has assured the County Commission and the college that planning money for its new building will be appropriated during a special session of the Legislature April 17. As the college begins the planning process, it needs to know whether it is building a physical education center or a physical education-community center.
That is why there's been a push to hold a special election now rather than waiting until the general election in November. Besides, the idea of a combined center is not new.
It was first proposed a year ago as part of UVCC/Orem's bid for an Olympic venue. The idea resurfaced last fall, when a citizen's group formed to support the center and the college began discussing the proposal with the County Commission.
Utah County needs a medium-size meeting facility. Currently there are facilities that can accommodate 2,000 people or 23,000 people, but nothing in between.
Brigham Young University's Marriott Center, which is the largest facility in the county, is often in use. The private university is restrictive about who, how and when the facility can be used.
The community events center would be used for a wide variety of events: business fairs, trade shows, entertainment productions, graduations, meetings, seminars, sports events and tournaments, etc.
Utah County would be able to house many of the events that now appear in Utah only in Salt Lake City - Walt Disney on Ice, for instance.
The center would obviously benefit students attending UVCC, 65 percent of whom are from Utah County. Construction of the center at UVCC is attractive for another reason: It would be centrally located in the valley, with easy access to I-15.
This opportunity is even more lucrative because UVCC will pick up two-thirds of the operation and maintenance costs associated with the facility. The other one-third will be covered through rental, sales receipts and concessions.
County commissioners say they will use proceeds of a 1 percent restaurant tax authorized by the Utah Legislature to repay the bonds, negating the need for a property tax increase.
Therefore, residents are deciding not only whether the county will help build a community center but how the commission will use the 1 percent tax, rather than leaving it to the commissioners' discretion. Using the restaurant tax to repay the bonds also ensures that property owners alone won't foot the bill; so will tourists, students and everyone else who eats at a restaurant in Utah County.
The community center will benefit Utah County in many ways and for decades to come. On April 9, residents should join together in support of their community and vote in favor of the center.