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Park City parents lobbying for bigger share of mine-impact for school district

Park City Schools
Posted at 4:30 PM, Feb 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 10:59:55-05

Park City residents demanded Tuesday that Stillwater County commissioners direct a larger share of county taxes collected from the Stillwater Mine to their school system.

Around 70 to 80 people were at a county commissioners meeting Tuesday, where the three-member board was planning to deny their request to additional money. But after dozens spoke out against the plan, commissioners agreed to delay their decision and get more information.

The Mine Impact Agreement under discussion has been in place since 1998, but many Park City residents say they believe their school district has never received its fair share. The funding from the agreement is shared among school districts in Stillwater County.

"We have a school that looks like Park City's, meanwhile Columbus and Absorakee have the schools that they have?" one resident asked during the meeting.

On Tuesday, the commissioners arrived at the meeting with a prewritten resolution stating that they would be hiring a third party to help make the decision about funding at a later date, which angered people at the packed meeting.

Some were upset with the lack of communication regarding the process, stating that the meeting being scheduled on a Tuesday at 9 a.m. isn't the easiest platform to gain public input.

"How many failed communications has there been?" one Park City man asked. "I'm sorry, I feel like we've been lied to for 20 years and there'd be a lot more people here if this was an evening meeting and you know that."

MTN spoke with three residents on the record following the meeting. One was Stacie Wells, whose husband works for the Stillwater Mine, which is owned by South African firm Sibanye-Stillwater.

"I just feel like Park City is the red-headed stepchild of the county," Wells said. "We don't have a fancy gym, we don't have a fancy commons, we don't even have a closed vestibule."

For years, the Park City school system has tried to pass bonds to obtain money to improve facilities. Their most recent attempt failed in October of 2022. Currently, their school grounds have modular trailers that hold classrooms.

"I just want us to make decisions for Park City residents and especially the kids," said Park City resident Dayle Stahl following the meeting. "Our kids are the future. If we don't invest in them, what do we have?"

And that's why many, like Chris Rafferty, were content with the commissioners' decision to postpone any big decisions.

"I feel like it was important for the commissioners to hear and feel the passion from the Park City community," Rafferty said. "I think that's what was accomplished today."

Others were still uneasy as to what the next steps will look like.

"I'm hopeful that they will do the right thing, as they said," Wells said. "But I think Park City just needs to continue to be loud because I think that's the only thing that's changed their course."