With results from a city-commissioned study indicating that an overwhelming majority of residents would be willing to pay more property taxes to preserve Mulligan’s, city leaders are thinking outside the box to keep the open space which is anchored by the golf and games center.
Over the last several months, they have indicated concern that Mulligan’s has been operating at a loss and have sought solutions to the problem, including possible redevelopment of at least some of the area.
While city figures indicate the center has actually been holding its own with operating expenses, it has been the $500,000 annual repayment on a $4,640,000 bond for the property that has given the mayor and city council heartburn.
Now, they appear to have a solution.
“The stars are now aligning for us here,” Mayor David Alvord said as he presented a concept of paying off the Mulligan’s bond in April 2015 to council members at the Dec. 2 city council meeting.
With the help of council members Mark Seethaler and Chris Rogers, Alvord has come up with three scenarios where the bond could be paid off:
Use $6,299,019 from the city’s surplus fund to pay off the bond and to remodel South Jordan City Hall at a cost of $300,000. This leaves a surplus of $1,359,019.
Use $1 million from the park impact fund and funds from the surplus ($6,299,019). Also, use surplus to pay $300,000 to remodel City Hall. This leaves a surplus of $2,359,019 and $1,600,000 in the park impact fund.
Use $6,299,019 in surplus funds and $2 million from park impact fees to pay off bond. Use this money to also remodel City Hall at a cost of $300,000. This leaves a surplus of $3,359,019 and $600,000 in the park impact fund.
The concept seems to have city council support. Now, Alvord and the council will have to work out which option to pursue.
These same city leaders recently came under criticism when a statement about the future of Mulligan’s was posted on the city website.
Some former city officials called a press conference Nov. 17 to address the issue.
Former council member Brad Marlor, the driving force behind the press conference, said that the official statement regarding Mulligan’s, which was published and posted on the city’s website on Oct. 30, was “absolutely false.”
More specifically, Marlor and other former members of the council, along with South Jordan’s former mayor, Kent Money disagreed with a particular paragraph in the city statement that reads: “These Granted Funds came from a variety of sources and are funds which Mulligan’s had no legal rights. Another way of stating this is that city leadership diverted these monies to Mulligan’s at the expense of using these same funds for their core intended purpose.”
“Unfortunately, this statement, written by Councilman Mark Seethaler, got to the city staff and they had the directive to publish it and put in on the website with no hearing or no formal vote by the mayor or city council,” Marlor said. “The reason we’re upset is because he’s impugning our integrity. He’s impugned that we diverted monies in an illegal way. They had no business saying this or publishing it.”
Marlor and the rest of the participants at the press conference expressed concern that current Mayor David Alvord and the city council wanted to taint or sway the opinion of the public before the city’s official survey about Mulligan’s even began. They also didn’t agree with the hiring of a public opinion firm to survey residents at the public’s expense.
In response to the press conference Alvord told the South Jordan Journal he appreciates the former mayor and council members, all of whom he said he respects, for their “instrumental service to the city by making it a wonderful and green place to live.”
“There was some confusion by our staff and council members as the true intent of the Mulligan’s purchase,” he said. “For example, the June 22, 2004 meeting minutes show clearly that Kent Money and his council opted to pass on placing a conservation easement on the land.”
Alvord said that if the former council had put an easement on the land, “…it would have settled the Mulligan’s question forever by leaving it protected open space.”
Alvord then quoted a statement by Money from the minutes: “If they do the easement, Mulligan’s is no longer a viable asset if the city wants to change the use.”
“It was statements like these that left the city in confusion,” Alvord said. “This is precisely why I advocated for the Y2 survey.”
Marlor responded to Alvord’s statement, saying that an easement was impossible to do at the time due to the funding of Mulligan’s from the revenue bond that was issued in 2004.
“You can’t put a conservation easement on land that somebody else is using for collateral for the bonds,” he said. “They’re naïve and uninformed to say that we should’ve put an easement on Mulligan’s.”
City Councilmember Chuck Newton also weighed in at a recent city council meeting on the former council’s press conference.
“There has been a lot of inaccurate information put out by Save Mulligan’s, so confusing that even former council members are confused about what was actually said in the past, and what has actually been discussed in the present,” he said. “There has never been any discussion by this or previous councils to build high-density housing, or any housing, on Mulligan’s 67 acres.”
Councilmember Chris Rogers added that “…the statement that Mr. Marlor refers to that was released on or about Oct. 30, 2014 from the city regarding Mulligan’s was inadvertently released before the city council had an opportunity to review it or vote on it,” he said. “As a result, it was not an official statement of the city council or the city.”
The statement has since been pulled off of the city’s website.