Council discusses RAP tax allocations for arts, approves bid for Red Hills Parkway realignment

Downtown St. George, Utah, March 5, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – During a regular meeting of the St. George City Council, Thursday, city officials discussed the portion of the RAP tax allocated to the arts and how it may be processed as well as approving a bid for the forthcoming Red Hills Parkway realignment and drainage project.

The City of St. George receives an estimated $1.2 million annually from the county RAP (recreation, arts and parks) tax revenue generated through sales tax. Those funds are split three ways between the arts, parks and recreation-related projects.

Though the grand opening is underway, some work on the Electric Theater Center continues, St. George, Utah, Aug. 28, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
File photo taken during the grand opening of the Electric Theater Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 28, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Around $400,000 is allocated to the arts, with grants to various arts groups based in St. George being administered through the St. George Arts Commission.

Gary Sanders, the city’s community arts administrator, gave the City Council a break down of where some of the RAP tax funds have been recommended for use:

  • $25,000 to the Tuacahn Center for the Arts annually
  • $50,000 to the St. George arts district located downtown; one of the proposed fundings is to create signage directing people to the various arts-related venues within the area
  • $100,000 to maintenance and operation of the Electric Theater Center annually

The $125,000 making up the proposed allocations to Tuacahn and the Electric Theater are annual commitments for approximately nine years, Mayor Jon Pike said.

The remaining $225,000 of RAP tax revenue to the City of St. George can be applied for by arts groups within the city, Sanders said.

There’s a much larger pot for our city-based art groups,” he said.

Some of the money granted to various arts groups may return to the city in the form of funds from art groups using the Electric Theater Center, Sanders added.

The Electric Theater provides space for visual and performing artists of various kinds to dance, sing, paint, sculpt, and so on. It also provides areas for administrative needs and storage.

“The Electric Theater is a pretty happening place these days,” Pike said.

A barbershop quartet from the St. George Musical Theater performing at the Electric Theater Center's Grand Opening, St. George, Utah, Aug. 28, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
File photo: A barbershop quartet from the St. George Musical Theater performing at the Electric Theater Center’s Grand Opening, St. George, Utah, Aug. 28, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Though the city has yet to build a large center dedicated to the arts – a project that would take millions of dollars and the potential collaboration of many different entities working with the city, City Manager Gary Esplin said – the Electric Theater Center is nonetheless helping to provide a place where various arts groups can gather and thrive in the downtown arts district.

One of the goals of the RAP tax is to help strengthen the city’s arts groups so they can become anchor tenants of the arts district and also ultimately become self-supporting.

A schedule of accepting applications for RAP tax funds near the end of April was proposed, with the St. George Arts Commission reviewing the applications in May and then recommending certain applications to the City Council for approval in June.

Esplin said presenting applications for funding to the City Council in June may be difficult this year as some of the funds have already being allocated for the next fiscal year. In order to avoid that, he suggested the Arts Commission start taking applications at an earlier date next year.

The City Council took no action concerning RAP tax funding Thursday.

The voter-approved RAP tax passed in 2014 and went into effect in April 2015 and will remain so for a period of 10 years. The countywide tax, which is one penny out of every $10 of sales tax, is anticipated to generate $2.2 million annually. The county is slated to take in 15 percent of those funds, with the remaining 85 percent being distributed among its municipalities based on point-of-sale and population.

Other business

A preview of "George Washington," a sculpture by Gary Price. The life-size piece will be featured in downtown St. George as a part of Art Around the Corner's 2016 season, St. George, Utah, March 24, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
A preview of “George Washington,” a sculpture by Gary Price. The life-size piece will be featured in downtown St. George as a part of Art Around the Corner’s 2016 season, St. George, Utah, March 24, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The City Council approved a $1,043,824 bid for the Red Hills Parkway realignment and drainage project. The project is part of the city’s portion of the Mall Drive underpass project being undertaken by St. George and the Utah Department of Transportation.

The project will create a highway underpass connecting Red Hills Parkway and Red Cliffs Drive near Mall Drive. Work is slated to start in May and finish by the end of the year.

The council was also given a preview of various sculptures to be featured around the city during  the 2016 season of Art Around the Corner’s Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit. A yearlong show, Art Around the Corner showcases art pieces in the downtown area that came from local artists and beyond.

One of the more famous pieces displayed in the city as part of the Art Around the Corner exhibit in recent years was a sculpture of a giant guitar called “Ready to Play” by Deveren Farley. That sculpture was located on the roundabout at Main and Tabernacle streets during the 2014 season.

The new exhibit opens in April.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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