Special Bond Election

Election notice regarding official ballot proposition for the Syracuse City, Utah Bond Election

On August 11, 2020 the Syracuse City Council adopted Resolution R20-30 scheduling a Special Bond Election on November 3, 2020. Bonds to be issued would aid in the construction of a 50-acre park in Syracuse City. The City is required to prepare a Voter Information Pamphlet regarding the proposition; this pamphlet will be mailed to all households in the City. However, the City is also required to include the supporting and opposing statements for the bond in any newsletter publication delivered to all households. The opinions expressed in the statements below are the opinion of the authors, not Syracuse City. Voters will receive their ballot approximately three weeks prior to Election Day. Drive-up early voting will be available October 27-30 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Davis County Administration Building. The Legacy Events Center – 151 S. 1100 W., Farmington – will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for in-person voting on Election Day. Any questions regarding the information contained in this notice or any aspect of Syracuse City Municipal Elections can be directed to the City Recorder, Cassie Brown, at (801) 614-9633 or by emailing cassieb@syracuseut.com.

BOND SUPPORTING STATEMENT

Where Syracuse farmland once produced onions, we now produce children. From 1880 until 1980, our population grew by just a couple thousand. Within the last 30 years, we have grown by ten times that amount and expect to again double our current population in the next 20 years. We are growing exponentially and we have our rich familial heritage to thank.

Our community tapestry holds a fondness for recreation. The Parks Development Master Plan has adopted the ratio of 5.6 acres of parkland per 1000 residents. Currently our city has 151 acres of developed parkland, which means with our population over 31k, we are already 35 acres short.

We have reached capacity in our Parks and Recreation department. Without the proposed regional park, we will shortly have to turn families away from city sponsored recreation as well as limit offerings. As our population increases, so will the need for programmable and open space. We must do more to preserve land for our present and future needs.

The proposed regional park will be built on 50 acres at 2000 West and Gentile. Some of its amenities include several full size athletic fields, basketball and pickleball courts, a large playground, pavilions to accommodate parties and family reunions, a grand performance pavilion, connecting walking and running trail systems and shaded seating and eating areas. Previously labeled a “white elephant” because of lack of fertility, this soil will be built up and enjoy line of sight open space, as it will neighbor the Nature Conservancy District. From beginning to end, it is expected to be completed within approximately 3 years.

The completion date is also expected to coincide with work on the West Davis Corridor, which will provide easy access and invite visitors to our community to participate in tournaments and events. With the loss of sales tax revenue from RC Willey, financial sustainability is imperative to our city. Future employers look for amenities that attract employees and this park will guide that investment.

We would like to pay for the park with a combination of city funds, personal and private donations, grants, and bonding. The most recent estimate for the park is approximately 33 million. The maximum amount we propose bonding for is 26 million. We will continue seeking all other means to fund this park while in the process of development and any funds gathered will be used to either decrease the amount we bond for or pay off the bond early. By starting now, we hope to curb the loss of value to funding ratio that inevitably occurs with inflation.

We propose combining the regional park bond with a current bond used for our city building, police and fire stations and public works building. For about $4.50 more per month, we will distribute the costs more equitably for these facilities across current and future households.

This park is vital to Syracuse and we hope our citizens will see the wisdom in proceeding with the bond.

Authors: Mayor Mike Gailey, Councilmembers Lisa Bingham, Corinne Bolduc, Jordan Savage, and Seth Teague.

BOND OPPOSITION STATEMENT

Syracuse does need more park space to accommodate the needs of the citizens in the city both young and old. The proposed 50 acre park is well planned to meet the needs of all citizens. The argument is not against a park but how to fund it.

Bonding for the park may significantly handicap the city’s ability to provide for basic services. The city has struggled for more than a decade under sizable bonds to pay for vital service buildings such as city hall, the fire station, and more. The need for a new water tower could only be solved with yet another bond. All city bonds could be retired in just a few short years; however, this proposal extends the current level of bonding out through 2042. Future infrastructure bonds could end up at a higher rate because the city has extended its debit.

This bond tax is relative to your property value reflecting approximately a 25% increase. Ideally it would end. None of your current city officers are expected to be in office in 2042, so no person can promise the tax will end there. It is a common practice of government to repurpose such a tax allocation beyond its purpose because the citizens have grown accustom to paying it over 20+ years. After enduring the tax, it will be presented as money you already pay, applying the same amount to a different use. Effectively you are voting for another large tax increase with no end.

Fundraising should have happened before taxing the population. Syracuse began the process of planning for this park 5 years ago. With the first indication of a large cost for the park the plan was effectively put on the shelf. Years of fundraising should have taken place before now. To only start the process of fundraising in all the various forms after putting this tax measure on the ballot is a disservice to the people. How much could be raised to offset your burden? Which sources could relieve this tax burden? What options are available to lower the cost of the park?

This park is over designed, NOT in terms of services, but in terms of engineering. Because the land has a history of being considered infertile, the engineering jumped to the assumption that a minimum of 8 feet of fresh soil is needed across all 50 acres. It was suggested when planning began that some science be applied to seek alternatives, which has yet to happen. In the initial cost estimate over $6 million dollars was added for unknown costs. Will that extra $6 million be spent wisely? We don’t know, so why start by funding it. Value engineering efforts could bring the cost down significantly and should happen before asking the people to fund the full amount.

The park will be a great benefit to the city. Better planning before taxing is the responsible way to govern. Funding this project should not begin with your wallet but be the last resort.

Author: Councilmember Dave Maughan

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