As the Utah Legislature convenes next week, issues that concern community leaders in Davis County range from the quality of education to building a visitor center at the entrance to Antelope Island State Park. But all have the same bottom line: money.
The wish list ranges from a low of $750,000 for the visitor center up to $10 million to protect land near Hill Air Force Base from development, a move seen as crucial to the base's future operation.Layton City officials favor Gov. Mike Leavitt's proposal to spend $10 million to buy easements south of Hill to prevent encroachment by housing or commercial development.
Layton has wrestled with the problem of keeping development away from the sensitive flight path area around Hill for many years, and buying easements is one way to keep them open.
With Hill on the Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Committee's hit list, the action could be crucial in helping Hill survive military downsizing in 1995.
Sen. Haven Barlow, R-Layton, plans to ask for $200,000 to buy an option on 100 acres in the county for a community college site. The final cost could be $2 million to $3 million. Since Davis is the fastest- growing county in the state, Barlow thinks land for a school will be needed in the future and it is prudent to lock some up now before every acre is developed.
Barlow said he has heard "a lot of support" from fellow legislators for the proposal, and he promises to do everything possible to get the funding. "It's in the best interest of the state to have land set aside."
Officials in the Davis School District also are watching the Legislature closely.
Key issues include adequate funding to provide good raises for teachers and staff, reduce class sizes and equalization of capital funding so growing districts such as Davis will have enough money to cope with increasing enrollments, according to Sandra Wilkins, director of community relations.
The district also supports continued funding for technology and technology training, wants to continue career-ladder programs for teachers and is watching what happens with school fees, she said.
County officials were practically turning cartwheels when Leavitt's proposed budget was released earlier this month. It includes $750,000 of the $1 million needed to build the Antelope Island visitor center. The county has pledged the other $250,000.
But they will be watching carefully as the legislators work over the budget, knowing what the governor asks for is not always what he gets.
County officials have also made their annual plea for jail reimbursement, asking for payment for housing state prisoners in the county-run facility.
Concerning U.S. 89 development between Ogden and Farmington, Layton simply wants a decision to be made as soon as possible and is concerned about having the safest option - whether it be the limited expressway or the traffic signal proposal.
Most of Layton's other concerns are identical to those of the Utah League of Cities and Towns - the highway funds distribution formula and wanting the cities to receive an extra 5 percent in funds; an expansion of the legal reasons for a City Council holding closed meetings; the sales-tax surcharge and also that any state and federal mandates should include revenue possibilities.
Clearfield and Bountiful leaders share those concerns, especially about the distribution of state highway funds, most of which come from fuel taxes.
The state takes 75 percent of all gas taxes collected for maintenance and improvement of state roads. Officials give the remaining 25 percent to local governments - hardly enough to cover expenses in Bountiful, City Manager Tom Hardy says.
"We spent over $3 million last year for street construction and maintenance and received (from the state) only $600,000," he said. "That means our residents paid for 80 percent of our work.
"It's a totally inconsistent practice and one that needs some attention," Hardy said.
Leaders also have told legislators the city still wants UDOT to help push the extension of Bountiful Boulevard into Salt Lake City. The proposal has been on study plans for years.
Senate Majority Leader Lane Beattie, R-Bountiful, has said he doesn't think the extension of the east-bench road should become a legislative issue. He hopes UDOT will undertake a feasibility study.
Staff writers Linda Thomson, Lynn Arave and Paul Parkinson contributed to this report.
HAFB, gangs, upgrading U.S. 89 top list
Davis government and school officials have been meeting with their area legislators since November, outlining issues of concern in the upcoming session. Here are some that top their list:
- Staving off closure or cutbacks at Hill Air Force Base.
- Gangs and gang-related violence.
- Funding for a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
- Funds for the upgrading of U.S. 89 and eventual construction of a West Davis Highway.
- Securing a site of at least 100 acres for a new community college.
- Construction of a visitor center at Antelope Island State Park.
- New formulas for distribution of state highway and sales-tax funds, with a larger percentage going to local governments.