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East Zion CRA discussed at town hall meeting

Jason Burningham of Lewis, Young, Robertson and Burningham, and Scott Stay of Construction Management and Development, Inc.

The Kane County Commission held a town hall meeting at Kanab Center on March 30, 2022. The topic was a review of the East Zion Community Reinvestment Area (East Zion CRA). Commissioners Brent Chamberlain, Andy Gant and Wade Heaton were in attendance. About 20 members of the public attended as well.

Commissioner Heaton opened the meeting by noting that its purpose was to, “honor the commitment the commissioners have made to engage with the public more, and to be more transparent,” going on to add, “That is the sole reason we’re having this meeting today.” The town hall is planned to be the first of several on this topic.

Commissioner Gant made remarks about the benefits the East Zion CRA’s projects will provide to the county, including significant revenue increases projected by Zions Bank. He went on to note that any risk associated with the project is carried by the residents of the East Zion Special Services District, and “does not in any way encumber any other citizens of the county. None of their money. Not sales tax or any other type of revenue generated in the rest of the county.”

Commissioner Chamberlain introduced Jason Burningham and Scott Stay to lead the presentation and Q&A period. Burningham is a principal at Lewis, Young, Robertson and Burningham, an independent municipal financial advisory and consulting firm located in Salt Lake City. Stay is president of Construction Management and Development, Inc., an international construction project management company with offices in New York City.

Together the two presented a slide show that started by providing definitions of CRAs and TIFs. A CRA, or Community Reinvestment Area, is a geographic area, which has been established and approved by an appropriate legislative body for its high potential for development that will stimulate growth in the local economy and be mutually beneficial to the public and private sectors.

TIF, or Tax Increment Financing, is an economic development tool used to encourage private investment and economic growth by allowing the private sector to partner with the public sector to pursue specific projects that could not be undertaken by either entity on their own.

From the fact sheet provided at the meeting: “TIF is the net new property tax revenue generated by a new development. In other words, it is the difference between property taxes generated within an area before new development and after new development. As the new development moves forward, tax revenues increase. That tax increment is collected into a special fund that the CRA can then invest back into the project area.”

The fact sheet notes that the Utah Tax Payers Association “does not immediately oppose all types of CRAs and tax increment financing,” stating additionally that “CRAs and TIFs are very common across Utah” and are used in Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Weber, Washington, Cache, Iron, Beaver, and Rich counties.

The presentation ended with a review of Zion Bank’s projected financials for the East Zion CRA. The panel answered questions from the public after the presentation. There were a few brief and spirited exchanges between residents in attendance, but overall, the conversations were civil and informative.

Details regarding additional town halls on the topic will be published by the commission.

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