Washington City approves framework for RAP tax use

The Washington City Council , Washington City ,Utah, June 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY – A resolution unanimously passed by the Washington City Council Wednesday established how it will distribute RAP tax funds to applicants and which projects may take priority.

As the revenue from last year’s voter-approved RAP tax has begun to add to the county and city budgets for projects related to recreation, arts and parks, those entities have had to discern how those funds would be used.

“The ordinance we just passed spells out the framework under which the city will distribute money within the recreation, arts and parks projects in our city,” Councilman Kress Stehali said, “and also projects that are proposed for nonprofit organizations.”

The city’s ordinance is largely based on the one passed by Ivins, with a few tweaks to make it work for Washington City, Staheli said.

Narrowly passed with 51 percent of the vote in 2014, the RAP tax takes 1 cent off of every $10 spent in the county. Monies generated from the tax goes to the county and participating municipalities based on population and point-of-sale.

The tax is anticipated to generate $2.2 million annually, and will be in effect for 10 years. Washington City’s annual portion of the RAP tax revenue is estimated to be $270,000.

Prior to the ordinance’s passing, the council spent time clarifying certain details, such as when applicants could apply for grants and what projects have priority.

Applicants, be they city departments, nonprofits, or nonprofit-sponsored events, can apply for RAP tax funds twice a year in June and December. Funds will be allocated in January and July.

As for funding priorities, city projects will take precedent, with surplus funds being allocated to nonprofits.

I think we need to have room for public and private applications,” Councilman Thad Seegmiller said.

While city projects may take priority, Staheli said the council will have discretion where those funds go.

“A lot depends how the budget will play out,” Staheli said.

One big projects on the horizon for the city is turning Veterans Park into a town square similar to what St. George has, Staheli said.

“That’s one of the projects the city has prioritized,” he said, adding that planning for the project is still in the preliminary stages.

Other business

The City Council voted down to two proposed zone change requests in the downtown area. Located at 190 W. 300 North and 100 N. 50 West respectively, the proposed zone changes would change the properties from median density to medium-high density. This would allow for the development of multiple-family dwelling units like townhouses and apartments.

The City Council shot down the requested changes. They said the projects bid weren’t consistent with the overall character of the downtown, which is primarily made up of single-family homes.

A public ribbon-cutting signifying the completion of the Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park was announced for Monday, Nov. 2, at 5:30 p.m. The park, located at 965 S. Washington Fields Drive, sports four full-size soccer fields, pickleball courts, a large pavilion and other recently added amenities.

Though the majority of the work on the park has been completed, the soccer fields are still being seeded and may not be ready for use until spring, City Manager Roger Carter said.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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