ST. GEORGE – This November, county residents will have the chance to vote on a new tax supporting projects that promote recreation, arts and parks. The “RAP tax,” as it has come to be known, is anticipated to generate around $2.2 million in revenue annually that will be distributed between the county and its municipalities.
The Washington County Commission recently passed a resolution putting the proposed RAP tax on the ballot this fall.
“It will have to be voter approved,” Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner said.
If passed, the new tax would take 1/10th of 1 percent of sales tax in the county – or 1 cent from every $10 – and be in effect for 10 years. Monies generated by the tax could be applied to things like recreational facilities, parks, trails and various artistic and cultural pursuits. Nonprofit groups that promote these items can also apply for funds generated by the tax.
A county-level board will be appointed to handle the distribution of funds from the tax. The bulk of money will go to the communities, Gardner said. In turn, each town and city will appoint its own board or committee to direct the application of funds within its boundaries.
The idea for a county-wide RAP tax was originally proposed by the Washington County Arts Council in 2012. They called it the CARE initiative, standing for Culture, Arts and Recreational Enhancements.
“They’re the ones that got this started,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said.
Pike said the council approached the county government, then went to individual cities and presented the idea of the RAP tax. By earlier in 2014, an interlocal agreement between the county and the cities was drafted, which is currently making its way through town and city councils for approval.
The St. George City Council approved the interlocal agreement in June. Implementation of the agreement will ultimately rest in the hands of voters, however.
“I love the fact we get to vote on it,” Pike said, adding that it’s going to be up to the city officials to explain to residents what exactly the tax is and how it works.
“We will make the info available,” Pike said.
According to the interlocal agreement, 15 percent of revenue from the RAP tax will go to the county to use as it sees fit; the remaining 85 percent will go to the cities and towns. Of that 85 percent, 67 percent will be applied based on town/city population, with the remaining 33 percent based on point-of-sale, or where sales tax originates.
It is anticipated that one-third of the funds will be produced by people visiting the county, Gardner said.
An example of how the county government may apply its portion of the funds is through supporting Tuacahn Amphitheater. Considered one of the major economic drivers in the county, after Zion National Park, Tuacahn has made an economic impact in excess of $62 million on the county overall.
As St. George is the largest city in the county, its portion of the funds will be around $1.2 million or so, Pike said. The city could have actually generated more money for itself if it implemented its own city-level RAP tax, but having a countywide tax benefits everyone, including St. George, he said.
Should the RAP tax pass in November, the City of St. George, for its part, could eventually apply funds to projects related to outdoor sports facilities, like new softball or soccer fields or completing the pickleball complex in Little Valley. Arts groups like St. George Musical Theater, the Heritage Choir and others could also end up as recipients of the funds after applying for them, Pike said.
If the RAP tax doesn’t pass, Pike said the city may re-evaluate its current spending toward artistic, cultural and recreational enhancements.
- Council considers RAP tax allocations, RFP audits, impact fee rates
- Countywide tax for arts and recreation being proposed
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