Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ogden Valley Forum: Weber County Commissioners Make Plans to Carry $17 Million Bond for Pow Mow Private Developers Summit Group - Updated

Serious public blowback could result if Weber County Lumpencitizens perceive this proposed exercise of corporate welfare as a measure being arrogantly shoved down their throats

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Just to get things rolling this morning, we'll shine the spotlight on a "blockbuster scoop" coming from our sharp-eyed friends at Ogden Valley Forum, concerning an immediately upcoming (and so-far below the public radar) proposed Weber County Commission action, about which all Weber County taxpayers ought to be deeply concerned. According to yesterday's Shanna Francis OVF guest post, over the past few months our County Commissioners have been secretly meeting with principals and legal representatives of the Summit Group, the Powder Mountain Ski Resort investors who acquired that popular eastern Weber County ski venue in December of 2012. During the course of those closed door discussions, the Commission has worked out for these Summit investors what appears to be a truly sweetheart deal, namely a $17 million publicly bonded loan, to be quietly "floated" for the benefit of the new Powder Mountain developers by the ever-generous lumpencitizens of Weber County.

In that connection we'll cut straight to the chase, and incorporate Ms. Francis' eye-opening prefatory lead paragraphs. Read up, folks:
Please read the attached. I was troubled to learn yesterday that the Weber County Commissioners are wrapping up negotiations with Summit to float a $17 million bond to pay for water and road infrastructure for Summit. They have been proceeding with these plans during closed door meetings.
I would ask the county put these plans on hold until the details can be viewed and discussed publically, though, legally, from what Commissioner Zogmaister reported to me, there is no requirement for the county to consider public input.
Please help in stopping these plans until they can be adequately aired and analyzed.
I am hoping that adequate public calls and clamor for a hold on these plans would be effective in derailing the bond agreement between Summit and the County, again, at least until details can be publically scrutinized, since the tax payers are ultimately liable for the repayment of the $17 million.
- Shanna
You can dive into OVF's full expose' "attachment"  here:
What the Summit people and our County Commissioners seem to have "quietly" cobbled together is a plan for the issuance of a revenue bond, (procedurally distinguishable from a general obligation [GO] bond ), in which former circumstance, and unlike a GO Bond transaction,  the County Commission would neither be legally obligated to hold any public hearings nor to put the question to a public vote, as Ms. Zogmaister less than skillfully tried to explain in Ms. Francis' article above.

While we don't yet know enough about this proposed action to reasonably conclude that this proposal would necessarily be a bad deal for Weber County taxpayers, we are concerned about the speed and stealth by which our elected Weber County Commission representatives are ushering this matter to the Commission front-burner, without even so much as a murmur of public input. Therefore we're going to go along with Ms. Francis' reasonable suggestion, and will strongly urge our Weber County Forum readers to contact our County Commissioners, to politely request that they voluntarily schedule at least one formal public information session in the Commission Chamber, and to accordingly put the ultimate decision on this matter over on the Commission calender for at least a few more weeks.

Bell, Zogmaister & Gibson
Whether they're awre of it or not, our Weber County Commission could experience serous public blowback if Weber County Lumpencitizens perceive this proposed exercise of apparent corporate welfare as a measure arrogantly shoved down their throats.  Thus, if they're smart, the Commission would ideally invite the general public into the information loop... although given the present Commission posture, the question "smartness" is a VERY BIG "IF," at this point, or so it would seem.

"Sunshine is the best disinfectant for the infection of secretive Big Government," as the old saying goes; so we strongly urge our readers to contact Commissioners Bell, Gibson and Zogmeister and ask that they peel back the commission cloak of secrecy and arrogance and do what in their hearts they have to know is right, i.e., "let the cleansing sunshine in."

In that connection, here's our handy-dandy County Commission contact link:
Please don't dally on this, O Gentle Readers, as this matter comes up on the Commission agenda for 10:00 a.m. this coming Tuesday, March 26:
Why not click the link, compose a [polite] note and press "send," folks?  Can't hurt; might even help.

P.S.:  A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to Ogden Valley Forum for flushing out and single-handedly bringing this story right out in the open.

Update 3/24/13 5:05 p.m.: There's more information breaking in this fast-developing story, whereby Ogden Vally Forum an hour ago provided some interesting new information about the exact nature of the proposed  new bonding, along with an announcement that the Summit owner/developer group has now scheduled a public Town Meeting, at Pineview Lodge for 7 p.m. tomorrow, Monday, March 25:
By way of overview, it turns out that the proposed bonding will involve assessment bonds, a subset of the general term revenue bonds, which we discussed above.

We won't speculate as to whether the purpose of this meeting is to merely clarify bonding proposal details, apply a last-minute citizen sales pitch, something in-between, or "all of the above."  But one thing's for certain: we'd love to find out what does transpire at that meeting. So we'll accordingly offer our invitation to anyone who sits in on this public event, to visit WCF after adjournment, and chime in with the full lowdown.


babs said...

isn't this just a performance bond that will actually make money for the county?

rudizink said...

Nope. It's clearly not a performance bond, which is an entirely different breed of cat.

Whereas a performance bond is merely designed to serve as security for a job completion on, say, a construction job, a revenue bond "is a special type of municipal bond distinguished by its guarantee of repayment from revenues generated by a specified revenue-generating entity associated with the purpose of the bonds."

In the instant case, the Summit group would act as the "revenue generating entity," and Weber County would play the part of the "Bond Issuer/borrower." Under a revenue bonding scenario, Weber County would qualify for and issue the revenue bond, market the bond on the municipal bond market, pass on the bond sale proceeds on to the Summit Group as the Powder Mountain developer, and then Summit would thereafter be primarily liable for paying back the bond investors by means of additional revenue generated through the improvements paid for by the loan proceeds.

Whether the County would make any money on the transaction would of course depend 1) on whether Summit (the specified revenue-generating entity) could generate sufficient revenue to pay back the original bond loan; and, 2) Whether the improvements Summit would "build out"would additionally provide the County with increased taxes, or other revenue which might be provided by a what the County is referring to as the parties' "Memorandum of Understanding."

The short answer to your question? It's impossible to tell how the County will make out on this, without careful study of the proposal;s fundamental assumption, which is really all that Ms. Francis is asking, right?

Complicated, ainnit.

Bob Sawatzki said...

Thanks for sharing the info and explaining the technicalities of public bonding. Now I know why The Summit told me "now is not a good time for an article."

Here's a link to their plans for Powder Mountain:,_2013.pdf

Sandi Tuck said...

i have been involved in the planning process for over 30yrs.
I have watched Powder Mt. go bankrupt twice Wolf Creek 4 times.. Do the tax payers want to hand 17 million over to

some thing that has not been proven? Also when the process
started2yrs. ago Summit represented that they had the money for the development Are they finding the same problems that prior Development investors did?

Rosemary Hoffman said...

Considering our changing climate patterns, perhaps investment in the ski industry is not a wise move, especially for the taxpayers who are not given a choice in the matter.

Disgruntled Democrat said...

I wonder if this issue would have gotten this far if Combe, Wicks, and Morgan would have been elected. Doubtful.

drew johnson said...

i see this as just a standard county-developer bond issue, i have seen it with other developers when a public road is created, this really seems much adu about nothing.

rudizink said...

After conducting a couple of additional interviews, and doing some additional research this afternoon, I'm inclined to agree with you, Drew. Keep your eyes peeled for an additional writeup which I'm planning to publish later this evening, which will attempt to explain some of the missing details from this story, and put this bonding measure in the "reasonable" context which you suggest.

Dennis Craig said...

After expressing my concern yesterday via OVF about the bond issue, I attended the meeting with the Summit Group last night at Wolf Creek. It looks like there were errors in the prev OVF posts.

It is not a Revenue bond but instead an assessment bond that is used for this kind of development. County commissioners need to do a better job of explaining what is going on. Whether required by law or not, this is why public hearings should take place.

I questioned the use of bond funds to improve Powder Ridge Rd that has been partially pvt, but am ok if it will become public.

The debt appears to be properly secured by reserve funds by the Summit Group, but It would be a better bond issue (for the taxpayers) if a % of the price of each lot/home would go into a sinking fund to have the debt partially retired annually via an annual bond lottery as the properties are sold starting 5 years out after the completion of the bond issue.

For those Weber Co taxpayers who think this will be taxpayer $'s going to PM for their private development, the county commission needs to explain to the average person what a muni bond is: A municipal bond is a security sold in $1000 units to investors and not taken out of the county's funds. The investors are paid interest, usually semi-annually, until the debt is retired.

Dennis Craig

rudizink said...

Thanks for the update, Dennis! Your clever "sinking fund" suggestion is definitely something which ought to have been explored. One more reason for the Commission to have moved this decision over on its calender, I'll suggest. The Commission missed the boat methinks, in ignoring the input of our built-in Weber County citizen "brain trust."
At risk of an appearance of quibbling, by the way, I'll re-emphasise that "assessment bonds" are merely a special sub-type under the general category "revenue bonds," a point I've been consistently (but apparently unsucessfuly) trying to make throughout the last couple of days' dicusssion of this bonding issue.
Thanks again for chiming in on WCF.

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