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Salt Lake County voters to determine fate of Zoo, Arts and Parks tax

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Posted at 10:19 PM, Jun 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-28 00:19:16-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- It’s a tax Salt Lake County residents voted for twice, Now, the Zoo, Arts, and Park, or “ZAP” tax is up for renewal. Voters can vote on the tax proposal on November’s ballot.

Hogle Zoo, Red Butte Garden, Tracy Aviary, and the Utah Arts Fest, all considered cultural staples in Salt Lake County and just a handful of the organizations and events that benefit from ZAP tax funding.

"Many of the things that give us that small town feel, that make Salt Lake County the place that we want to live and to raise a family is made possible through ZAP,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

The tax was first passed in 1996 for ten years. Salt Lake County residents renewed the tax for another ten years in 2004 with 71.3% of the vote.

Here’s how the tax works: when you pay sales tax, one penny for every ten dollars goes to funding 160 arts and cultural organizations and more than 30 park and recreation facilities.

“If ZAP goes away in 2016 it will directly affect the quality of life in Salt Lake County," McAdams said.

But not everyone is in favor of the so-called “boutique tax.” Royce VanTassell with the Utah Taxpayers Association said tax funding should be based on priorities.

“If those really are the highest priorities, in the budgeting process that will come out. There’s no need to set them aside and pigeon hole them and say we’re going to guarantee that revenue stream. They should be part of the regular budgeting process. If it’s not, you end up paying more in taxes than you really should be,” VanTassell said.

FOX 13 asked some Salt Lake County residents what they thought of the ZAP tax.

“I spend more on my coffee every morning than a penny on ten dollars so it’s well worth it to me,” said John Searle.

Ray Riveron, another Salt Lake County resident, also drew a coffee comparison.

“It’s like a latte a year or something like that so I think it’s totally worth it,” Riveron said.

The ZAP tax will be in effect through 2016. If voters renew it, it will be in place for another ten years until 2026. In 2013, about $13.8-million in ZAP funding was distributed, and approximately 3.8 million people receive free admission to an arts or cultural event funded by ZAP each year.