Residents of unincorporated Utah County are not paying their fair share for recreation, according to officials of two south county cities.
For starters, recreation officials from Payson and Spanish Fork want the county to ante up and help fund the recreation programs in their cities.About 70 percent of residents living in unincorporated Utah County depend on the recreation programs of Spanish Fork and Payson, said Jack Swenson, parks and recreation director for Spanish Fork.
"Spanish Fork City is subsidizing the program (in our city) and feels it should be for residents of the city. But it isn't just a problem for Payson and Spanish Fork," Swenson told the Utah County Commission Tuesday. "This needs to be addressed for all cities."
In an earlier communication from the two cities, the mayors told the commission the county's share figures out to be right around $110,000 or $43 per household unit.
"Whatever we do, we'd have to build it into the next year's budget," Commissioner Jerry Grover said. "And it should really be discussed in the Council of Governments with all of the mayors."
Grover said it would be a change in county policy to start funding recreation programs for the unincorporated residents and would require discussion in a public forum.
"We do need to be sensitive to the pressure on the cities," Grover said.
At the same time, he said residents in the unincorporated areas feel they already pay their share of costs by shopping within the cities they live near.
Commissioner Gary Herbert said he recognizes that a growing population is adding pressure to those cities in the south part of the county.
"You could argue fair, and I don't know if you could get everyone to agree," he said.
"Spanish Fork and Payson probably do bear the brunt of the problem. It's something that certainly bears discussion."
The other option would be for cities who have county residents registering for their recreational programs to pay a non-resident fee. Grover said that's being done in several cities, and sometimes it seems to be an inordinately high amount.
Other cities such as American Fork and Pleasant Grove charge the neighboring cities a portion of the cost of running the programs. Something similar could be worked out with the county for residents of the unincorporated areas, Grover said.
The commissioners decided to schedule discussing the situation on an upcoming Council of Governments agenda, after which they will talk about it further in a future commission meeting.
Herbert said there will be a public hearing at some point as well.