WASATCH COUNTY, Utah — On Wednesday the Wasatch County Council approved the proposed Ordinance #22-14, implementing the county option transit sales tax. The sales tax will be levied on June 30th, 2022, and all transactions except gas and groceries within Wasatch County will be held to a one-quarter (0.25%) increase in sales tax. The tax will be used to improve transit throughout Summit and Wasatch County.
“If this can cut down on the traffic we’re seeing, and improve the quality of life and air quality, I am in favor,” councilman Steve Farrell said.
Heber City, a town with 17,000 residents and 10,000 jobs, has no form of public transportation. Over 4,000 people commute from Wasatch County to Summit County daily, and officials say a public transportation system would help alleviate traffic.
Now that the sales tax was passed, the county council can begin deciding which transit option to choose from. There are two options, either a bus running from Heber City to Park City; or a microtransit option, which functions similar to a ride-sharing app such as Uber or Lyft. Summit County’s High Valley Transit, which celebrated its one-year anniversary Wednesday, has a micro-transit service.
The bus route would operate every hour, and includes four stops before reaching Park City, stopping at the Wasatch Commons, the Mayflower area near Jordanelle State Park, and Guardsman’s Pass. It would cost $2.2 million per year to operate the route.
Microtransit would only serve Heber City, Midway, and the Jordanelle State Park area. This would primarily service teenagers, and senior citizens, while also encouraging carpooling. Individuals could call a taxi and be dropped off anywhere within the boundaries of Heber City and Midway. Microtransit would cost $2.3 million annually.
One of the main talking points at the council meeting was burdening citizens with another tax. Councilwoman Marilyn Crittenden voiced her concern, saying “I’m just not convinced the county is ready for this… I know a quarter of a penny doesn’t seem like much, but I don’t know if people will want this.”
It was brought up how 46% of Wasatch County sales tax was paid for by tourists in 2021, and how an increase would cost the average citizen here in Wasatch County $36 annually.
The council eventually voted in favor of implementing the tax, and some form of public transportation will be provided. No further decisions have been made in regards to which transit option will be chosen or start date for the transportation services.