Salem residents and their counterparts in Provo Canyon could have the longest road to acquiring Utah Transit Authority service.
In its regular meeting Wednesday night, the Utah Transit Authority board of directors voted to accept the terms and conditions of annexation of Mapleton, Payson, Salem, Spanish Fork and the unincorporated area of Provo Canyon into the UTA public transit district. That means voters in those areas will choose in November whether to increase their local sales tax 0.25 percent to fund local bus service.But the board also told the 60 or so in attendance that Payson, Mapleton, Salem and Provo Canyon must meet additional conditions if those areas are to receive service.
Residents in Spanish Fork, in addition to those in both Mapleton and Payson, must approve the tax increase by a majority vote this fall before those two cities receive UTA routes. Both Payson and Spanish Fork residents must approve the measure if Salem residents are to have any hopes for a mass-transit system.
"It's a matter of economics," said Bill Oswald, UTA's legal counsel. "There's simply not sufficient sales-tax revenues coming from the other cities for us to afford service to them without Spanish Fork."
Ninety-three percent of the sales tax proceeds to fund the south-county UTA service come from Spanish Fork and Payson - and more than $300,000 of that approximately $470,000 comes from Spanish Fork, Utah County Service Planner Kip Billings said.
But Mapleton Mayor Richard Maxfield said he did not understand why UTA can't afford to bring buses just two blocks south from Springville, where the service currently ends in Utah County, to Mapleton with that city's sales tax proceeds.
"We feel like we're already paying for the service now," Maxfield said. "You're already getting our money that we spend in other cities."
The Provo Canyon service, which would primarily serve the Sundance resort, would not be contingent on Spanish Fork's approval, but officials must make major improvements to the resort access road - including widening it and providing a proper turnaround - before buses could operate there, Oswald said. Also, the resort may also have to help purchase special buses necessary to travel the canyon in winter.
Most of the other mayors and representatives of the areas seeking annexation spoke in favor of the proposal in the public hearing held during the board meeting.
Spanish Fork Mayor Marie Huff and City Councilman Clyde Swen-son said it appears residents may be ready to support mass transit, even though a measure that could have either provided for a city-owned and -operated bus service or for UTA failed resoundingly in the 1992 elections.
Before the Nov. 8 general election, UTA officials will hold four public hearings - beginning Sept. 13 - for input into possible routes. Billings said that if current routes are extended, as many as 50 trips per day will operate between Spanish Fork and Provo, as well as 25 between Payson and Provo.
If approved by the voters, service to the cities, except Provo Canyon, could begin as early as next January.
Payson-Salem area - Tuesday, Sept. 13, 6:30 p.m., Payson City Building, 439 W. Utah Ave.
Spanish Fork-Mapleton area - Thursday, Sept. 15 (tentative), 6:30 p.m., Spanish Fork Library, 49 S. Main.
Provo Canyon - Wednesday, Sept. 21, 6:30 p.m., Utah County Building, 100 E. Center, Provo.
Combined wrap-up - Thursday, Sept. 29, 6:30 p.m., Spanish Fork Library.