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By Delivering a $21 Million Redevelopment Agency Fund Renewal

That Made Our Town Square a Reality

Mayor Randy Lewis

If you like the new Town Square, it wasn’t created by the wave of a wizard’s wand. Financing it was tricky, tedious, and hard work, by me, our city staff, and then-Council Member John Marc Knight. It was a year-long lobbying undertaking, requiring the approval of seven different taxing entities. Think of them as fiefdoms jealously guarding their tax base.

Bountiful, like most municipalities, has a Redevelopment Agency (RDA), which is the City Council putting on a different hat for certain purposes. RDA’s are created by state law to enable cities to make re-vitalizing land use arrangements, usually by partnering with developers to create a new usage in area that has fallen on hard times. On your next run to Costco or Home Depot, or any of the restaurants in that hubbub of commercial business west of 500 West and north of 200 South, remember that this area was created by the West Bountiful RDA – because the land is within West Bountiful.

Because land within a city’s municipal jurisdiction is also within the property tax jurisdiction of other political subdivisions(and the original RDA agreement was set to expire), we had to renew it. The Town Square was slated to replace Stoker School, and because of its proximity to downtown Bountiful (which is an approved RDA zone), it qualified as an appropriate redevelopment project – the more people who have a reason to visit Main Street also have a greater likelihood of patronizing Main Street businesses. Smart economic development is more than bringing new businesses to our city; it’s also about encouraging residents to do more shopping and spending in Bountiful.

We needed a 20-year extension for the city. Redevelopment projects involve decisions about whether taxing entities will agree to defer property tax collections for a period of years with the expectation that the project will yield greater tax revenues over time (return on investment), and these are particularly painful for school districts. The entities that voted on our extension were Davis County, the Davis School District, the Utah State School Board, the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, the South Davis Sewer District, the Metropolitan Fire District, and the South Davis Mosquito Abatement District.

The State School Board RARELY approves RDA projects, but with a year’s hard work, we received unanimous approval. Without that, the Town Square would not have happened, because the city couldn’t afford it. The Town Square cost $8.9 million, and $4.6 million of that was RDA money. What pleases me so much about this is that the negotiating team I led succeeded in financing that $4.6 million by recapturing tax dollars our citizens had already paid to other taxing entities.

Here’s how the then-Director of the Davis County Economic Development Department (and Bountiful resident), Kent Sulser, remembers our work:

I am grateful for Randy Lewis’s leadership! He is by far a stronger and more experienced leader than his opponent. His hard work brought more than $21 million back into Bountiful’s redevelopment program. I know that because I was involved in Davis County’s piece of that, and I saw what he put into the effort. Bountiful City is better because of him and the positive difference he has made.

When you’re ice skating this winter at the skating ribbon, enjoy the fireplace, constructed with Stoker School bricks. I am really pleased to have some additional fingerprints on that ice ribbon, which is only there because the South Davis Recreation Center Board, on which I sat, agreed to partner with the city. I worked hard to make that happen, and we managed it on a 6-2 vote.

When it counts, I am very pleased that I have been able to bring home the bacon for Bountiful. With your vote, I can keep doing that for the next 4 critical years.

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