RAP tax benefits touted
One of the questions on the lengthy Summit County 2020 general election ballot asks voters whether they favor something called “Proposition 21,” a sales tax that will fund, among other things, botanical organizations.
Thanks to the strictures of election rules, the wording on propositions is carefully regulated and sometimes confusing. What the question is really asking is whether voters want to reauthorize the RAP tax, a sales tax that supports recreation, arts and parks in Summit County.
The 0.1% sales tax was instituted in 2000 and reauthorized in 2010. In 20 years, it has generated about $25.5 million, according to county data. Half of the proceeds are doled out to nonprofit cultural institutions, while the other half is dedicated to recreation projects.
Last year, the tax netted just over $2 million. The money is distributed by a committee that reviews applications.
Elected officials are barred from advocating for the tax after a certain date, but officials have touted the tax for its ability to leverage tourism dollars for projects on the East Side of the county as well as in the Snyderville Basin.
The County Council heard from 10 proponents of the sales tax at its meeting Wednesday.
Summit County Clerk Kent Jones indicated the county was required to receive public input about the tax; no one spoke out against it.
Brian Richards, the executive director of Mountain Town Music, said the tax gave the organization enough financial flexibility to adjust to providing music in a time of social distancing.
He said, with the help of the RAP tax, 332 musicians have been employed during the pandemic, along with steady jobs for eight former gig workers, and the music has reached some 3,500 local residents.
Since its inception, the nonprofit has been helped tremendously by the tax disbursements, Richards said.
“Without the RAP tax, Mountain Town Music wouldn’t exist,” he told the council.
Other commenters included representatives from Ballet West, the Park City Museum, Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter, and Summit Community Gardens.
Each indicated the tax revenue has helped their organization tremendously.
Jocelyn Scudder, the executive director of the Arts Council of Park City and Summit County, said that the arts and culture sector has grown into a major employer in the area and that RAP tax funding will be key to getting workers in those industries back on their feet.
On the recreation side, the RAP tax has benefited both the PC MARC and the Basin Rec Fieldhouse in past years, as well as helping pay for trail creation in Round Valley.
Summit County officials have touted the RAP tax as one of the few funding vehicles that allows residents on the East Side of Summit County to benefit from the revenue from tourism in the Park City area.
RAP tax funding has been used for projects in Echo, Coalville and Oakley, among other places.
In Peoa, the RAP tax helped refurbish the rodeo grounds and provide a source of summertime entertainment.
“RAP tax allows us to go to a park in Peoa that is normally a rodeo grounds and program music for families that, every Friday night, goes on their calendar,” Richards told the council.
He said the venue has become one of his favorites, with children playing on the grounds and many families coming to enjoy the shows.
“I appreciate the RAP tax and I am so in favor of continuing that,” Richards said. “It means a lot to the arts and cultural organizations in this county.”
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