Thursday, June 26, 2014

Council Discusses South Downtown CDA

The Provo Council recently discussed a proposed South Downtown Community Development Project Area in anticipation of a public hearing at the Council Meeting on July 1, 2014. The designation of this zone will help promote further development in the area, which has seen increased developer interest due to the presence of the Utah Transit Authority Frontrunner Station at the heart of the proposed zone.

What are the goals for the proposed CDA?

Provo City Redevelopment Director Paul Glauser said there are key points that the Provo Redevelopment agency would like to accomplish in the proposed plan for the South Downtown Community Development Area. These points are:

• Enhance employment

• Provide Citizens with better access to goods and services

• Create a better tax base

• Provide residents with better housing opportunities

• Reinforce the Provo downtown as the center of Utah County

• Improve the general standards and character of the area

• Promote the building of improved building facades (create an urban feel)

• Helping achieve the city’s parking vision, including the increased use of putoff street parking areas and parking structures for higher density development parking

• Making streets more pedestrian friendly

• Provide for increased open spaces to complement increased densities

• Provide for sustainable development both economically and environmentally

• Provide for redevelopment using tax increment financing

What is a Community Development Project Area? 

A Community Development Project Area is the designation of a zone which will make it eligible for tax increment financing, which allows for future development of an area. This designation is a tool which will allow the city to fulfill its own general plan and bring about its desired zoning and development plans. Interest in future development in the South Downtown area is anticipated especially regarding transit-oriented development around the new Frontrunner station and the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system planned for University Avenue.

Once a Community Development Project area is designated, nothing will change until or unless the affected taxing entities (Provo City, Utah County, Provo School District and Central Utah Water) agree to go forward with new development deals.

What is Tax Increment Financing?

Tax Increment Financing allows property taxes from redevelopment projects and their gains in taxes to subsidize current improvements which are projected to create the conditions for those gains. Tax increment financing does not mean that property taxes for current property owners will be increased. For more information about tax increment financing, see this

Wikipedia article. More information about tax increment financing as a tool of economic development in Utah can be found in the Utah State Code Title 17C here.

What are the exact boundaries of the proposed zone?

(See map below)

You can review the plan and documents for the proposed area here.

If you have questions or comments about the proposed zone, you may attend the public hearing at the Council Meeting on July 1, 2014, or reach out to your council member directly here. Comments and questions may also be directed to Provo City Redevelopment here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Council Passes 2014-2015 Budget

The Provo Council passed a $195.2 million budget for the fiscal year 2014-2015 at a recent Council Meeting. The budget includes funding for a few capital improvement projects which will upgrade systems which provide water and waste water to the city.

A budget advisory committee, chaired by Council Members Kim Santiago and Gary Winterton and including members of the Provo community, assisted the Council in assessing the budget presented by Provo City Mayor John Curtis. After meetings and discussions, Committee Member Dave Armond, speaking on behalf of the committee, recommended the Council approve the budget.

The Council also discussed budget issues at a special work meeting,which you may view here.

If you’d like to read more about the Council’s consideration of the budget, see here.

You can review the budget for yourself here.

Provo's Daily Herald also has a detailed story about the approval of the budget, which you can read here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Support for Provo School District Bond

The Provo Council recently issued a joint resolution with Provo Mayor John Curtis expressing support for the Provo School District general obligation bond.

You can read the text of the resolution here.

The $108 million bond proposal will be put before residents this November, and will address critical rebuilding projects for Provo High School and Edgemont, Rock Canyon, Provost, and Sunset elementary schools.

If you'd like more information about the bond, you can visit the district's site here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Un-fogging the Future

Council adopts legislative intent statements.

At a recent Council Meeting, the Provo Council passed Legislative Intent Statements for the fiscal year 2015 budget. These legislative intent statements outline priorities which the Council, mayor and budget committee discussed in recent budget meetings.

You can see the Council’s most recent budget meeting here.

Intent statements 7, 8 and 9 were drafted as specific recommendations from the Council’s Budget Committee, which you may read about here and here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Times of Refreshing at the Provo Power Campus

The Provo Council recently received a report regarding the current state of the Provo Power Campus, including possible options for its eventual replacement.  The campus currently does not meet seismic standards, and is deteriorating due to its age and construction. The buildings have issues with plumbing, settling and cracking in the walls and foundation, and do not meet many building code stipulations.

Scott Bunker from Provo’s Department of Energy said officials have considered replacement for the campus under several administrations, but that the window of opportunity has never been quite right.  
The power plant was constructed in 1959, and the administration building in 1950. In 1963, the city upgraded the facilities, and since 1965 added additional structures as needed.   

Originally, the facility was designed to serve Provo’s 18,000 residents. Today the city has grown to just over 115,000. Provo officials believe now is the time to address upgrading the facility with a 25 to 30 year horizon to account for both current demand and future growth.

“The campus requires about $50,000 to be spent yearly for maintenance and upgrades, just trying to keep up with the problems we already have,” Bunker said. There are also issues with fitting diesel service vehicles inside the facilities on campus during winter months to prevent wear and keep the vehicles in service. “Reliability is our most important feature,” Bunker said. “We want to be the most reliable municipal utility in the country, and we feel that in order to do that, we need facilities that we can respond from properly.”

The twin smoke stacks of the power plant which have been an iconic part of Provo’s skyline are also under consideration for demolition due to safety concerns as they deteriorate. The stacks are currently used for the communications antennae which they support, and not for regular power generation.  Bunker said if they are demolished, it is expected new steel structures will be erected which will meet the need for communications equipment.

Several options for updating the campus were presented to the Council, and will continue to be studied as possibilities going forward.  The options range in cost from $24 to $27 million, with plans varying as to whether or not to entirely reconstruct the campus, or to simply renovate buildings and update equipment to preserve the historicity of the site.

It is expected that several public meetings and open houses will be held to receive public input and to determine the best course forward at the Provo Power Campus.

If you'd like to read more about the Provo Power Campus, see this article in the Daily Herald.

What are your thoughts and feedback about the challenges facing the city regarding the Provo Power Campus?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Council Considering Proposed 2015 Budget

The Council recently heard a presentation from the Council Budget Committee regarding the Provo City Administration’s proposed 2015 budget.

The Council Budget Committee is an advisory body chaired by Council Member Kim Santiago which informs the Council on budget issues. (For more about the members of the Committee, see this post on the Council’s blog.)

Larry Summers, a professor of public finance at BYU and committee member, acted as spokesperson.

Summers offered the views of the Committee on the issues:
·         Sales tax revenues
·         Property taxes and valuation
·         Provo residents' economic standing
·         Utility rates
·         Provo City General Fund
·         Capital Improvements
·         Questions and recommendations for the Council

The Council also discussed these and other items yesterday at a Council budget work meeting, which you can watch here.

The Council held a public hearing on an ordinance adopting the Administration’s proposed budget for 2015 at Council Meeting on June 3, 2014. Another public hearing discussing these issues will be held at the Council Meeting on Tuesday, June 17, 2014.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Joint Work Meeting with the Planning Commission - Development Agreements

Provo Municipal Council - Budget Meeting

Support and Thanks to Sustainability Committee

The Provo Council and Mayor recently issued a joint resolution expressing appreciation and support for the Provo Sustainability and Natural Resource Committee.

The Provo Sustainability and Natural Resource Committee was originally established as part of the Vision 2030 process with the goal of helping implement plans to protect Provo’s natural resources, identify sustainability projects with public support, and help the Mayor and the Council realize those projects.

Provo Mayor John Curtis said thanks to the dedicated efforts of committee members, the committee enjoyed great success in promoting sustainability and wise use of natural resources in Provo, and embraced a scope larger than that outlined in Vision 2030.

“This committee has really flourished, and grown in an almost organic way,” Curtis said. “I feel it’s certainly appropriate for us to join together in a joint resolution expressing appreciation and support for that committee and recognizing their efforts and acknowledging that both the administration and the City Council support the great work of this committee.”

The resolution calls attention to the efforts of the Committee in promoting air quality initiatives, recycling, and appropriate land use planning .

You can read a full text of the resolution here.