RAP Tax funding questioned
February 10, 2012
After deliberation and comments from multiple arts and cultural groups, the Summit County Council approved $714,000 to be given to 17 organizations, despite questions by Council members regarding the reasoning behind how some of the funds were distributed.
Council member Sally Elliott requested that more money be awarded to the Sundance Institute. Council members John Hanrahan and Claudia McMullen questioned why an additional $19,000 was being given to KPCW and the Park City Performing Arts Foundation was receiving $22,000 less than last year.
Tom Fey, head of the RAP Tax Committee, told the Council that institutions and applications change each year and the amount given to a particular foundation should not be the same from one year to the next.
The RAP Tax, which is funded by a portion of Summit County’s sales tax revenue, was put in place 10 years ago. The Council recently extended the fund for another 10 years.
"The landscape has really changed in the past 10 years," Fey said. "We can’t look at what all the organizations were doing in the past, we need to look at what they are doing now. Ten years ago, Mountain Town Music wasn’t around and neither was the Deer Valley Music Festival or Symphony."
Fey added that in 2010, the last time the funds were dispersed, the Jazz Festival was cancelled, allowing an additional $40,000 to be distributed to other organizations.
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"We gave half of that money to Sundance and asked KPCW to give money back that they were awarded because they did not use it for the project they said they were going to. So we can not use 2010 as a base for 2012 spending because there were different variables involved," Fey said. "The Park City Performing Arts Foundation is not doing as many programs as Mountain Town Music and we need to take things like that into account."
Teri Orr, executive director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, said there was a misunderstanding in their application regarding what programs they were seeking funding for.
"Comparing art organizations is difficult because we are all so different," Orr said. "We were told we could not use the money to underwrite a performance so we have not applied for money for performances and now it is being used against us."
The Council voted three to one to try to find additional money in next year’s RAP Tax fund to give to the Performing Arts Foundation to restore them to previous funding levels. Council member Dave Ure said that decision troubled him because it showed voters that the Council still had not learned how to live within its means and was creating trouble for themselves down the road.
The Sundance Institute was also unable to sway the Council into giving them additional funds, despite Sundance Advisory Board member Rory Murphy telling the Council that the money from RAP Tax and other organizations have huge impacts on budgets.
The Sundance Institute was awarded $74,000 in 2012, $3,000 less than the previous year.
The Council decided not to revert back to the percentage of funding each organization was given in 2010 despite Elliott calling this year’s funding recommendations "Off kilter."
"In the end, I think everyone is happy with the final decision," Elliott said. "We did ask the RAP Tax committee to change their matrix for next year though so it is clearer and easy to track why organizations are getting the amount they are."