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S. Utah residents to vote on tax increase to boost parks, arts, recreation in area

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Posted at 8:38 PM, Oct 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-20 22:38:49-04

ST GEORGE, Utah -- Voters in Washington County are considering the approval of a sales tax increase aimed at enhancing recreation, arts and parks in the area.

The proposed RAP tax will appear on the November ballot as Proposition 3. If passed, it would increase non-food sales tax by .1% in the county.

Those funds would be distributed to the cities based on population and collection to use specifically toward parks, arts and recreation projects. Fifteen percent of the fund would also be set aside to benefit nonprofit groups that support the arts.

St. George City mayor Jon Pike said an estimated $2.2 million could be collected in one year.

“We have some great arts organizations here in St. George and Washington County,” Pike said. “But they’re all working really hard to kind of stay alive. So this is a way we can help strengthen them.”

Approximately two-thirds of the state has a similar recreation tax. In Salt Lake County it’s called a ZAP tax to include the Hogle Zoo.

State law allows for the introduction of a tax based on a simple majority vote. The tax would remain in effect for 10 years, at which point the voters would renew, or reject it.

“For every three cents that we collect, one of those is paid by somebody who doesn’t live in Washington County,” said RAP tax and former state representative David Clark. “This is a benefit for those who use our facilities to help pay and build for the infrastructure.”

Pike said the city has already identified about five different projects they could use RAP taxes for. Among those are building more soccer fields and pickleball courts out at the Little Valley Complex.

St. George residents say they recognize there is a need for more facilities, but say a tax is not the answer.

“I’m all for recreation and more parks,” said St. George resident Ashley Michaelson. “But I just don’t want more taxes.”

“If they actually were to guarantee it would go back into these programs, I’d vote for it,” said youth soccer coach Travis Story. “If not, no.”

Officials say if the measure doesn’t pass, they’ll still build facilities it just will be on a longer timeline.

More information on Proposition 3 can be found here: http://www.washcorap.info/home.html