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Front Page » February 19, 2004 » Local News » Price City Questions County's Rda Figures
Published 4,249 days ago

Price City Questions County's Rda Figures

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Sun Advocate reporter

On Jan. 29, the Price downtown redevelopment tax board voted 6-2 to stop funding for RDA projects in the zone next year.

The following week, Price sent a letter to Carbon County Clerk Bob Pero questioning whether the money the city is getting from a second redevelopment zone on the east end of town is the right amount.

The letter, dispatched to Pero on Feb. 2 and written by Price Mayor Joe Piccolo, stated that the city "has become aware of some possible miscalculations in the computation of available tax increment to be redirected to Price city redevelopment agency."

The letter outlined five properties where Price feels approximately $57,000 of tax increment money should be made available to the city's redevelopment fund.

Redevelopment areas are used to encourage and supplement start up and existing businesses that want to do remodeling or construction projects. RDAs are financed by funds coming from higher property taxes paid by existing businesses in the designated area improvements are completed.

The redevelopment area under consideration in east Price is several years old. The RDA slated to be discontinued next year in the downtown area was originally set up in 1980. The east RDA will have a total life of 13 years.

According to the letter, the city has estimated that the largest increase has come from the Super Wal-Mart property, where the tax base was low the year before last because the store was under construction.

The document indicated that the "property had a base year tax value of $1,446.68 (or 10 percent of the estimated completed value of the project) and now has a tax value at $114,008.93. Estimated available increment should be $112,562.25."

Two other properties included in the list of higher value are the Airport Mall (increment $5,174.07) and Tram Electric that moved into the old Joy Machinery building (increment $1,087.76).

The total increment that should be paid to the city through the redevelopment increments is $119,473.80, indicated Piccolo's letter.

The mayor asked Pero to investigate the errors and attend the Price City Council meeting on Feb. 11. But the county clerk could not attend the meeting because of a prior commitment. However, he told the Sun Advocate he had conferred with Larsen and Piccolo about the situation and that things had been worked out.

"It was really a matter of a misunderstanding," said Pero. "Part of the problem is that we sometimes have to work off of older documents and a mistake was made. We talked it over and have come to a resolution on the matter."

Pero said the mistake would have been eventually caught by the state as they reviewed documents sent in by the county.

Pat Larsen, the finance director of the city, also verified that the situation had been resolved.

At the city council meeting some other items of importance were also discussed.

One matter was for the council to decide what should be done with money used to pay for health insurance.

Presently, Piccolo gets $650 per month for his mayoral responsibilities, while each council member receives $300. All involved parties get an allotment of $730 for health insurance. Many council members have other health insurance and have opted to take the money by depositing the funds into a 401-k or 457 plan.

However, in the last few months there has been a move to make the money that is paid for insurance more available to the council members that don't want the insurance.

At a council meeting on Jan. 28, Larsen was asked to come up with scenarios for various options for doling out the money in different ways. When the item came up on the later council agenda, there was no debate and a vote was taken on a status quo motion. Continuing with the present plan won 3-2, with councilmen Steve Denison and Joe Christman voting against the motion.

There was also a discussion about water and electric rates during the council members' reports. The rates for schools and churches have been much lower than other entities in the past.

Some of that had already been changed, but apparently a number of the churches were not aware of the change.

"In some cases, the school district has been getting their water free from us," exclaimed Councilman Richard Tatton. "I am not sure that should be happening."

Larsen explained that some of the churches have not been paying their power bills based on demand rates, which is the way many large users are charged.

"New rates for them have been adopted, but they just haven't been put on the schedule," she said.

There was a suggestion to place the organizations on the different schedule immediately but City Attorney Nick Sampinos thought it would be better to follow a different path.

"I think by custom and practice that matter should appear on a formal agenda," he explained. "These organizations have budgeting processes they must adhere to."

The council agreed to that concept.

The mayor also announced that Price had received $300,000 in low cost loans to renovate the old United States Bureau of Land Management buildings the city acquired last year. Price also got another $25,000 loan and a $25,000 grant to buy a foaming system for the city's fire department. All of the money came from the Utah Community Impact Board.

The council also voted to promote Lt. Kevin Drolc to the rank of captain. The city police department position is a new one that better defines Drolc's duties as second in command behind Chief Aleck Shilaos. The city will not fill the lieutenant position at the present time.

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