Visualize a board member with a tin cup pleading for donations. That may be extreme, but it isn't far from the truth for the embattled Oquirrh Park Fitness Center in Kearns. Salt Lake County Regional Service Area Trustees conceded last week the $10.7 million expansion will run short of funds this month unless the board begs, borrows or otherwise finds $2.5 million to keep it going.
If money is borrowed, it would have to be repaid through donations, an increase in memberships or an increase in property taxes for patrons.The board of trustees and a newly formed citizen advisory committee is hopeful many residents will step up to the plate with personal and corporate donations and, especially, increased membership purchases.
Those alternatives beat a tax hike and should be supported within reason, but a rise in property taxes appears inevitable. That is unfortunate, since service area residents were hit with an increase several months back to supposedly provide the necessary revenue to complete the project. They also have been repaying the original bond issuance for more than five years, when the center expansion was approved by voters.
In fairness, the mess is not of the current board's making. The three new trustees inherited a financial morass when they took office in January. They have been working hard to sort out details since and have even reduced their own pay to cut costs. The silver lining in this latest bit of bad news is that, for the first time in months, everyone has a clear picture of the center's fiscal reality. While in a hole, at least forces can unite and begin digging out together.
That should be the spirit with which this latest hurdle is overcome. Trustees, fitness center management and a supportive community should pull together to complete a long-awaited project that will provide years of satisfaction to deserving residents.