Payson residents who supported the City Council in its purchase of historic Peteetneet school may soon get a chance to put their money where their mouths are.
The city is considering a special service district to raise the money needed for renovation and maintenance of the building. If voters approve the plan, Payson property owners would be assessed an undetermined amount to fund the project. Depending on how much renovation is done, the bill could run as high as $100,000.Larry Brown, director of People Preserving Peteetneet, told the city council he supported the special service district as,"the best method until we can think of something else."
But PPP member Gordon Taylor said the district would be,"the most bunglesome elephant you could ever set up."
Taylor said the chance residents would vote for a tax increase or bond obligation is "negligible at best. People don't vote to raise taxes."
He added that every new area annexed into Payson would have to be added to the district. City officials did not see that as a difficult task.
Taylor urged the city to wait and see how much money could be raised with grants and donations.
"Let us try a slow, grass-roots effort. We may not accomplish the goal in one year or even two or three, but you own the building. You have no payments to worry about."
The city must pay for utilities, maintenance and insurance, however.
Payson acquired the 87-year-old building and its 6.5-acre lot from the Nebo School District last month. The school had been empty for more than a year since an engineer's report concluded the structure would not withstand an earthquake. The land was appraised at about $75,000; the school was judged worthless because of the amount of renovation it would require.
PPP members who originally wanted to save the school for sentimental reasons have since thought of dozens of potentially profitable uses for the building. They say it could house everything from retail stores to a day-care center to a catering business.
Brown hopes some of the building can be rented to outside entities to raise some maintenance funds.
Council members Steve Hanson and Jo Ellen Whitelock supported a conservative approach. Hanson said he is not willing to incur debt on the building. Whitelock said since PPP members are so fired up, the council should let them see what fund-raising ideas they can come up with.
City officials will continue to gather information on special service districts in addition to other fund-raising options that would not tax the general public.