City officials from Salem and Spanish Fork may trade the use of athletic fields in lieu of recreation money.

That compromise was suggested after Spanish Fork officials asked Salem to contribute as much as $40,000 to help fund the Spanish Fork recreation program, in which Salem residents participate.Salem Mayor Randy Brailsford said he rejected the idea of giving Spanish Fork that much because Salem wants to develop its own recreation program. This year Salem budgeted about $90,000 for recreation and nearly all that was requested by Spanish Fork.

Under the proposal, adult city league athletes would exchange fields next year for some games. Youth leagues would continue to use their own local fields because of the driving distance between the two neighboring cities, Brailsford said.

Salem is trying to develop adult leagues, which are going strong in Spanish Fork. Moving adult leagues to Salem would free up Spanish Fork's crowded fields for youth games. Brailsford said Salem may pay Spanish Fork "a few thousand dollars" for its youth to participate in Spanish Fork's tackle football and cheerleading programs.

Spanish Fork's recreation program is huge with more than 200 athletic teams because it attracts not only local residents but also residents from Salem and the surrounding unincorporated area.

Spanish Fork officials have also met with Payson and county officials over recreation costs now funded just by city taxpayers, said Spanish Fork Mayor Dale R. Barney. Payson officials were included because that city, too, is funding recreation activities with city tax money in which county residents participate. Most residents in unincorporated Utah County live in the south end, Barney said.

"All cities (in south Utah County) subsidize the (sports) program (for county residents)," he said.

Salem residents are welcome by mutual agreement to participate in Spanish Fork programs, Barney said. Not only do Salem residents use Spanish Fork's recreation facilities, they also share its library and senior center.

Meanwhile, an entrepreneur with a tax-exempt organization contacted Brailsford saying he could raise $1.25 million so the city can build a recreation complex and library.

David Aust of Millennial Community Services NHF Inc. said he raises money through various activities, including entertainment. He invests the money in mutual funds for a few months, then pulls it out and gives to the city the principle as a grant from his tax-exempt entity. But the organization keeps the interest earned.

Aust told the Deseret News he pockets about 10 percent of the money earned and the rest remains in a tax-exempt Millennial Services account.

Brailsford said he gave Aust a letter to support his fund-raising efforts on city letterhead, but the matter never came before the City Council. He told Aust to contact City Attorney Junior Baker to make certain the effort was legal, but Aust has never done that, Brailsford said. Aust is working on his own at this point and if he raises money and grants it to the city he won't turn it down, Brailsford said.

The letter makes an appeal for money "so we don't have to raise taxes," to build the facilities along with jogging paths and sidewalks, it read in part.

But the letter raised a few official eyebrows at Spanish Fork City Hall because it also said Spanish Fork wanted Salem to keep its residents home from recreation activities or pay a "high maintenance fee" to use Spanish Fork facilities.

"That's not what was said," said Spanish Fork City Manager David Oyler.

Oyler met with Brailsford, Barney and other city officials several weeks ago and costs were discussed, but negotiations are still under way. He said the request for Salem to participate financially in its recreation program is patterned after a practice in north Utah County towns.

Brailsford said he wants to keep the positive relationship between the two cities and says the Ault letter is misleading.

The cities of Alpine, Highland and Cedar Hills pay American Fork about $23,000, $37,000 and $5,078 a year, respectively, to participate in the American Fork recreation program, and Lindon pays Pleasant Grove $35,000 for its residents to play there.

Last February Spanish Fork held an election to raise $8 million to build a massive sports complex. The effort failed 2-1, so Barney, a retired contractor, led the way in getting volunteers to build it. That project is ongoing.