County could get RAP tax if voters approve measure

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 appropriate to cultural organizations within the county; 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.

is appropriated to the county for the county to appropriate to cultural organizations within the county

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.

Ed. note: Clarification made as to the county’s responsibility over 15 percent of the RAP tax revenue.

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  • spencer August 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Sure… Why not add another 1% tax on top of that for county party funds. I don’t care its just a little bit.

  • Steve August 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Somebody, please explain to me why we don’t already have good arts and entertainment programs in our area and why we should have a separate tax for that. Should we also start adding little taxes for every other area of expenditure? I love these programs, but is this the right way to support them?

  • Big Guy August 15, 2014 at 7:11 am

    St. George has excellent parks, recreation and cultural facilities without this tax. What is it that we lack that would be provided by this new tax that we couldn’t do with existing revenue streams? I suspect instead that these funds will go to subsidize operations (i.e. salaries) at existing cultural facilities rather than to build anything new. And if you believe the tax will be allowed to expire after 10 years, I’ve got some flood plain land I’d love to sell you.

  • Ahahahahaha August 15, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Voters get to decide! What a joke! Voters decide nothing in St George. The dictatorship mayor/council decides everything for you, whether you like it or not. What a joke! Citizens/Voters get to decide. Better put down your crack pipe if you believe that!

  • Taxed Enough August 15, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    If King Pike believes this is a good thing that will benefit everyone, he should give up his salary, so it can benefit everyone.

  • SAGEMOON August 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    If the city would put in a facility to handle large crowds and get some good musicians (MODERN musicians) such as rock bands, country bands, rappers, etc. I would not mind paying a bit more. The truth of the matter is that the only arts allowed in the county are visual arts (which make no noise) and musicians and dancers that appeal to the very young, the very old and the very conservative or religious. I could see putting more money toward recreation. I don’t know about the rest of the county, but St. George’s parks are just fine. I think I will vote against this tax.

  • BOBBER August 15, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    more like a RAPE tax… thats how its done in stg

  • Hockeyguy August 16, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    I have great idea for rap tax money. How about something positive for the kids in this town like an ice rink. I didn’t live here when there was one in town but I hear it was busy all the time. A great place for families to enjoy good times together.

  • Mark Vinclio August 16, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    get out and vote…commenting doesn’t count remember

  • jedijoe August 18, 2014 at 10:24 am

    About 62% of the rest of the state participates in the RAP tax. If any of you enjoy anything that has to do with theatre, art, zoos, and the amazing parks and non for profit venues up north- everyone of those are able to survive because of the RAP tax. Look it up, its public record! Washington County is way behind the eight ball on this one. And any of you that think our parks and recreation areas are excellent the way they are- you need to get out more. Many of them are horribly dilapidated and underfunded. Maybe this could be a way to finally get a soccer/football (and why not hockey) complex that would drive serious revenue to the county.
    The article is right about Tuacahn, which is the major economic money pump into the area next to Zions, which is a National Park! Hello- Tuacahn gets almost no ‘love’ from the state and very little from the county. The Hotel and restaraunt Industry would dry up in the summer months without it.
    Come on people- 1 penny out of TEN BUCKS- I’m in!
    PS and after it passes lets hold Mayor Pike’s feet to the fire and get things done.

  • beacon August 22, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    It all depends on how the money is allocated. If it supports activities where there’s no fee so that low-income folks who are paying the tax, too, and paying a larger part of their meager incomes to support recreation, arts and parks, then perhaps it’s a reasonable idea. If it’s a tax and people at the low-end can’t enjoy the facilities it is used for, then perhaps another method of getting money should be considered. There are a lot of very wealthy people living here given the percentage of second homes that are used as an excuse for our high water use. How about the high rollers pitching in to help make this happen rather than expecting those who have less to pay more? Just a thought.

  • Q October 18, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    An interesting part about the tax is that it is a sales tax. This means that only those that make purchases in Washington County are getting taxed. The less you purchase, the less you pay. It is not like an income tax that cuts into every penny you make.

    The cool part about all of this is that 1/3 of all of the money spent in St. George is spent by non-residents. This is Washington County’s way of getting the tourist to pay for their use of public facilities in the county. This is a great opportunity for the county to take advantage of the money brought to them by tourists.

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