Sanpete Water District proposing tax increase to help fund Gooseberry
The Sanpete Water Conservancy District (SWCD) is proposing to raise the property taxes it collects by about 30 percent.
While that sounds like quite a jump, it amounts to less than $10-per-year increase for the average Sanpete County homeowner. For a home valued at $170,000, which is the Sanpete County average, the SWCD's levied tax with the tax increase would be $37.40, up from the current $28.42. The increase would raise the SWCD's property-tax revenue by nearly one third.
"It's for the Narrows project up Fairview Canyon," said SWCD Secretary David Cox.
The extra money would go toward making an annual lease payment the district is making for land near the proposed future site of the Gooseberry Narrows dam and reservoir.
Mitigation land needed
In early 2013, when the Bureau of Reclamation gave the go-ahead on the Narrows, the agency based its approval on the condition that the SWCD implement certain measures to mitigate the effects of the project. In order to carry out those mitigations, the SWCD needed more land.
The SWCD entered into an arrangement with Zions Bank to get about 210 acres for that purpose.
"Zions Bank purchased the land and is leasing it to the water conservation district. At the end of the lease it becomes the property of the conservation district," said Greg Soter, a spokesman for the SWCD on the Narrows Project.
Soter said Zions purchased the land for about $1.5 million. The term of the lease agreement is 20 years, he said.
"The land purchase was a huge step forward," Soter said. "We've always known that in order to make the Narrows happen, we'd have to purchase the land."
Cox said the fist payment has already been made, but the tax increase is needed to make future payments. But Soter explained it was not an unanticipated cost for SWCD officials.
The cost of the land was always built into the Narrows budget," Soter said.
Soter also provided an update on the project.
For now, the project is waiting for the Army Corp of Engineers to issue a permit the SWCD needs in order to move forward.
The Army Corp of Engineers has three options to choose from on the size of the dam. The permit, if issued, will include which size the Army Corp of Engineers chooses.
A mitigation plan will be part fo the SWCD's application for that permit, and a survey of the area's surrounding wetland is underway, and will provide a basis in creating that plan, Soter said.