In split vote, Hurricane City Council determines financial structure for Gateway at Sand Hollow

Hurricane City Hall hosted a public hearing April 15, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold St. George News

Hurricane — Though not all council members were on board with their approval Thursday evening, public infrastructure districts are coming to Hurricane – three of them, in fact. 

(L-R): Hurricane City Manager Kayden DeMille, council members Darin Larson and Kevin Tervort, and Mayor John Bramall listen to a discussion, Hurricane, Utah, April 15, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Following a public hearing held Thursday, the Hurricane City Council approved the creation of three public infrastructure districts for Gateway at Sand Hollow.

A public infrastructure district is a financing tool that allows private landowners to collect property tax money in order to fund large infrastructure projects. The idea is that infrastructure can be built by landowners, at their expense, for all of the residents to enjoy. Public infrastructure districts were introduced in Utah when the state Legislature passed SB 228 in 2019. Currently, Utah and Colorado are the only two states where these districts have been created.

The three districts approved Thursday encompass 2,300 acres of land south of state Route 9 by Walmart to the northern border of the Dixie Springs subdivision.

Brent Moser, co-owner of The Beach at Sand Hollow, is the designated spokesperson for the approved districts at Gateway. He addressed the council’s questions for over an hour. Moser also held numerous meetings with city staff over the last six months. 

Several times in the discussion, council members stressed that the governing document, which will be used to manage the districts and can be viewed by the public, defines a financing mechanism only; it is not a development agreement and does not specify anything other than details pertaining to paying for infrastructure.

This map shows public infrastructure districts 1 (green), 2 (red) and 3 (blue) for Gateway at Sand Hollow | Image courtesy of Hurricane City, St. George News

According to the founding document, future homeowners who live in Gateway will have their property taxes raised by 4.5 mills. The districts will use those funds for bonds and then to build the major connecting roads in the development. 

Hurricane City Manager Kayden DeMille listed some of the benefits to the public provided by the districts in an email to St. George News.

“These PID’s (public infrastructure districts) were approved with the intent to construct the regional roadways, including trails/bike paths and the creation of two large parks,” DeMille wrote.

“Exact roadway locations, utilities, engineering etc. are yet to be finalized,” he added. “Often details are worked through a development agreement.”

By law, the council must hold a public hearing before a public infrastructure district is created. At the Thursday meeting not a single person spoke for or against the matter, possibly because no one lives in Gateway yet and, at the moment, no one in Hurricane is directly impacted by the districts.

Each of the three districts had to be individually approved by council vote.

Each time, council member Darin Larson made the motion to approve, Kevin Tervort seconded and Dave Sanders voted for, while council members Nanette Billings and Joseph Prete voted against.

Ultimately, all three districts were approved 3-2.

In an email to St. George News, Billings said she voted a “hard no” because she fears Gateway residents will end up paying too much in property taxes, both at the beginning of the project and “on the back end.”

“With a PID the developer will build the infrastructure and the developer will sell the lot at market value,” Billings wrote. “Then the consumer pays the PID for 40 years too. The consumer is the one paying twice.”

Moser said in an email to St. George News that the public infrastructure program, “if administered properly, is a good financing tool that reduces costs through reduced interest expense. It also gives the city an opportunity to ask for amenities such as regional parks, trails etc. which normally would not be required by the developer.”

A board of trustees was also created for the districts consisting of Moser, and landowners, Scott Neilson and Tim Tippetts. 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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