Washington City Council adopts RAP tax allocation plan with future arts facility in mind

WASHINGTON CITY — After four years of granting Recreation Arts and Parks tax funds to various applicants, the Washington City Council passed a resolution Wednesday night clarifying guidelines for future RAP tax use.

L-R: Washington City Council members Troy Belliston and Kolene Granger, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“We’ve been taking in funds but really haven’t been withholding funds back to do something that would be cultural arts related,” Councilman Troy Belliston said.

Some suggestions have been made that Washington City should put a portion of the countywide funds it receives toward the future construction of a cultural arts facility

“If we hold some funds in reserve, we may be able to do that,” Belliston said, adding the RAP tax has otherwise been depleted each year.

Like other municipalities in the county, Washington City receives a portion of the collected RAP tax collected by the county. The tax itself is 1/10 of 1 percent, or one penny out of every $10 spent within the county limits. Distribution of the tax revenue is based on population and point of sale.

The City Council has used the RAP tax in the past to fund park and trail projects, a local town band, Brigham’s Playhouse and other projects and nonprofits.

Originally, the resolution recommended 35% of the city’s RAP tax be withheld to go toward cultural facilities and arts, with 40% appropriated toward recreational facilities and programs and the remaining 25% going toward grants for nonprofit cultural groups.

While the majority of the council supported the resolution, Councilman Doug Ward said he didn’t see much difference between a cultural facility and recreational facility. He said he also only thought the council was supporting withholding the 35% for a possible cultural arts facility when that may become feasible, and he wasn’t supportive of restricting the remainder of the RAP tax for a specific area of use.

L-R: Washington City Council members Daniel Cluff and Doug Ward, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“This isn’t clear enough for me to understand what it is,” Ward said during the council meeting. “I don’t think future councils will see this as a sufficient amount of clarity to give them guidance.”

Councilwoman Kolene Granger said she believes there should be a plan for the future allocation of the city’s RAP taxes for the arts. She also referred to the creation of a committee that would help the council review future applicants.

Members of the committee will come from leading arts and recreational figures in the community, Belliston said.

“I feel this gives us the right intention and direction,” Councilman Daniel Cluff said. “The overall thing is, we are trying to provide some guidance.”

City Attorney Jeff Starkey noted the percentage of RAP tax allocations and other guideline can be changed in the future as the council see fits.

The City Council ultimately chose to strike the percentages for recreational facilities and programs and nonprofit applications, yet kept the 35% to be withheld for a possible future cultural arts facility, such as a performing arts center or similar complex.

The remainder of the RAP tax will be applied to recreation, arts and parks accordingly, with up to 25% potentially being used to help fund nonprofit groups that apply.

The majority of the City Council voted to approve of the revised resolution with the exception of Ward who gave a dissenting “nay” vote.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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