Summit County Council approves $3 million in restaurant tax grant projects
This year, there were 40 applications requesting a total of $4 million
The Summit County Council approved $3 million to be distributed to more than 30 organizations in Summit County on June 8 as part of the 2022 cycle of the Restaurant Tax grant program.
Members of the restaurant tax advisory committee provided elected officials with a series of recommendations last Wednesday based on a ranking system of six criteria related to tourism, development and how grant funds will be leveraged. This year, there were 40 applications, requesting a total of $4 million, or $1 million more than what’s available. Around $2.4 million in tourism-promotion grants were distributed in 2021.
The Restaurant Tax was implemented in 1991 and is a 1% tax on all restaurant sales within Summit County. The deadline for applications was April 22. The advisory committee then reviewed each application and evaluated them based on various components, including if the project will help boost the restaurant tax fund by attracting day and overnight guests from outside of the Park City area.
Notable recipients this year include $225,000 for marketing the Sundance Film Festival, $170,000 for the Historic Park City Alliance to promote “car-free Sundays” on Main Street and other marketing efforts, $80,000 to help fund the Coalville City Summer Celebration in 2023, $60,000 for merchandise, live streaming and upgrades at the Oakley City Independence Day Rodeo, $35,000 to help fund the payouts of the Summit County Fair Rodeo and $15,000 for out-of-county marketing, live music and more at Francis City Frontier Days.
The Park City Lodging Association was given the largest amount and received $400,000 to help continue the Delta Airlines flight voucher program. The initiative has helped bring out-of-state visitors to the area during times of historic low occupancy.
The Park City Area Restaurant Association also received a significant amount, around $357,000, to be used for marketing and public relations for the organization and its member restaurants.
Other large amounts were awarded to the Park City Chamber/Bureau, which received $300,000 for a spring marketing campaign, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, which was given $139,000 for the 2023 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup, and the Park City Film Council, which received $100,000 for new seating in the Santy Auditorium.
The Park City Chamber Music Society, Park City Gallery Association, South Summit Rodeo Club, Park Silly Sunday Market, National Ability Center, Mountain Town Music, Kimball Art Center, Swaner Preserve, Alf Engen Ski Museum, South Summit Trails Foundation, Utah Olympic Park and more, also received funding for various projects and initiatives.
Many of the applicants requested more money but received a lesser amount to help distribute grant funds. The money will be returned to Summit County if the event is canceled or if construction falls through.
Four projects were not recommended for funding and did not receive any.
The Park City Institute requested $100,000 to be used for the “Professor of Rock” live shows, but the committee recommended no funding because the organization submitted financial reports for the 2021 grant late, which disqualified it from eligibility this cycle. A separate application for $200,000 to help promote upcoming live performances at the Egyptian Theatre was denied for the same reason.
Financial reports that are submitted late will incur a 10% penalty during the next grant cycle and reports received after Dec. 17, 2021 were automatically disqualified. Committee members told the County Council there were no late financial reports last grant cycle, but at least two this year.
The Summit Land Conservancy applied for $30,000 to be used to expand a transit to trail program, which uses a shuttle to take mountain bikers from parking areas to trailheads. Although the program helps alleviate parking, the committee said the application doesn’t fit the purpose of the restaurant tax.
A $400,000 request from the Park City Historical Society and Museum to purchase the Silver King Mine headframe and restore the exterior to what it looked like 100 years ago was also denied. The committee said in a staff report the recommendation was based on a decision from the Summit County Attorney’s Office that the organization didn’t qualify for funding.
In the future, the restaurant tax grant advisory committee may amend the grant application to include “sustainable tourism” as part of its criteria. Members said they recognize the issue is of great importance to the community and indicated it should be considered in the evaluation.
“Focus on the data outcomes, on the academic achievement outcomes, on the rankings that we have. The school board is happy with the direction of the district,” said Andrew Caplan, school board president. “We can always do a better job, especially with things that aren’t our core expertise like building and land management.”
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