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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Property tax increase for Cottonwood Heights residents

Dec 02, 2022 12:21PM ● By Cassie Goff

Proposed (and working) designs for a new playground at Mill Hollow Park. (Photo courtesy of Ben Hill/Cottonwood Heights Parks & Recreation Service Area)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

Cottonwood Heights Parks & Recreation Service Area (CHPRSA) Executive Director Ben Hill presented the details of a proposed tax increase to the Cottonwood Heights City Council on Nov. 15. The 2023 estimated tax increase on a market value house of $678,500 will be $61.57. There will be a public hearing on this proposed tax increase on Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.

The CHPRSA derives 47% of their annual budget from property taxes and 53% from user fees and charges. Over 320,000 Cottonwood Heights residents currently support the CHPRSA with their property taxes every year.

“We have asked everyone we have talked to so far about the savings from this current year. We are trying to get some of the savings from this current year recouped for the next year,” Hill said. “From 2019, residents are still saving overall.”

The savings Hill is referring to occurred in 2022 because the previous bond from the CHPRSA was paid off in 2021. There was a decrease in property taxes for most Cottonwood Heights residents.

“The CHPRSA was created by a Salt Lake County Board of County Commissioners in 1967. Since then, the CHPRSA has grown to be a state-renowned parks and recreation agency providing exceptional parks and recreation facilities, programs, and services that improves the health and lifestyles of our community. Over the last 55 years, the Parks and Recreation District has only increased the property tax rate five times,” Hill said. 

The CHPRSA’s 2022 certified tax rate was 0.000583. The maximum CHPRSA could go up to by Utah law is 0.0014.

“As an organization, we are doing extremely well compared to the national average,” Hill said.

The CHPRSA mainly owns and operates the Cottonwood Heights Recreation (Rec) Center (7500 S. 2700 East). The Rec Center is open 100 hours every week and includes four indoor pools, two outdoor pools, one hot tub, a sauna, five locker rooms, five family locker rooms, a basketball gym, an indoor running track, fitness rooms, a spin room, five racquetball courts, an ice area, two aerobics rooms, one nursery, and five community rooms.

“We have a massive Rec Center for our community,” Hill said. “It’s one of the best Rec Centers in the state.”

The CHPRSA is also in charge of Antczak Park (7200 S. 1850 East), Bywater Park (3149 Banbury Road), and Butler Park (7500 S. 2700 East). In addition, they help to support and maintain city parks such as Mountview Park (1651 Fort Union Blvd.), Golden Hills Park (8295 Wasatch Blvd.), Mill Hollow Park (2900 Hollow Mill Drive), and Ferguson Park (7721 Timberline Drive).

The 2022 annual budget for the CHPRSA was $5,202,804. The 2023 tax increase would create $635,000 of new revenue.

“I’ve lost more employees than ever before. Employees that we can’t retain,” Hill said. Currently, there are only 25 full-time employees. Part-time employees have ranged between 180 and 320, depending on the season.

Forty percent of funding from the proposed tax increase will go toward capital projects ($254,766); 33% will go toward staff and operation costs ($212,026); 22% will be spent on utilities (which will mainly be the gas bill to heat the outdoor pools) ($138,408); and the rest will go toward repair and maintenance ($29,800).

The CHPRSA identifies $23 million dollars’ worth of capital project needs. The main recommendations accounted for within the proposed tax increase would cover about $418,000 of those capital projects.

$15,000 will go toward repairing the Rec Center’s ice arena scoreboard. In addition, $35,000 will be spent on moving the indoor diving board.

$20,000 will go toward resurfacing the first three pickleball courts that were built since they are approaching the end of their current lifespan. In addition, $40,000 will go toward lighting the Michael J. Peterson Pickleball Courts (on the westside of the Rec Center). Cottonwood Heights City will be contributing $60,000 to this project as well.

The Richard L. Guthrie Skatepark (2495 Bengal Blvd.) needs $36,000 worth of capital improvements including repairs to the fence around the perimeter.

$614,259 will be allocated for playgrounds at many of the city parks. An updated playground and a new swing set will be constructed at Bywater Park. In addition, Mill Hollow Park will be getting a new playground.

The Master Plan of Antczak Park identifies the incorporation of tennis courts as well. Those will be opening as soon as the landscaping is finished for the area—complete with button-activated lights.

“We are strongly coming back from the pandemic as more people are participating,” Hill said.

The mission statement for the Cottonwood Heights Parks & Recreation Service Area is to “provide exceptional facilities, parks, and services that are critical to improve the health and lifestyles of our community,” Hill said. “We have learned how essential parks are on mental health over the pandemic.”

The CHPRSA is governed by a Board of Trustees. The current Board includes Bart Hopkin (District 1), Patti Hansen (District 2 and 2023 Chair), and Dan Morzelewski (District 3 and 2022 Chair).