CACHE COUNTY – On Tuesday, members of the Cache County Council approved grants totaling about $2.7 million to fund local groups and projects from the county’s Recreation, Arts, Parks and Zoos (RAPZ) and restaurant taxes.
But those awards barely made a dent in the available tax revenues for those purposes, according to County Executive David Zook.
At this time last year, the members of the county’s RAPZ and restaurant tax subcommittee took a very a conservative approach to awarding funds because no one knew then how badly the economic shut-down due to the coronavirus pandemic would impact future tax revenues.
Surprising everyone, however, RAPZ and restaurant tax revenues were seemingly unaffected by the pandemic.
Zook explained that Cache County had a balance of about $2 million in its RAPZ and restaurant tax accounts left over from previous years.
In 2020, for example, the county anticipated $3.4 million in revenue from the RAPZ and restaurant taxes, but only distributed about $2.3 million in grants.
The revenue from those taxes in 2020 came to another $3 million, giving the county ample funds to respond to recent grant requests.
Big ticket grants approved by the council members included $450,000 to the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre for general financial support and marketing; $155,000 to Zootah for operating expenses; $150,000 to the Cache Valley Center for the Arts for facilities, educational outreach and marketing; nearly $108,000 to the County Fairgrounds for needed improvements; and more than $93,000 to the American West Heritage Center for operating expenses.
The county also awarded more than $94,000 to the Cache Valley Visitor’s Bureau for marketing expenses.
Grants to local municipalities included $250,000 to Hyrum City for improvements to Blacksmith Fork Park; $197,000 to Logan City for its Center Block Plaza project; $160,000 to Logan City for improvements to Trapper Park; more than $122,000 to Smithfield City for improvements to Blue Sox Field; $115,000 to Logan City for improvements to Bridger Park; and $111,000 to Millville City for improvements to South Park.
Requests for funding from local RAPZ and restaurant tax revenues are complied and evaluated by a RAPZ and Restaurant Tax Subcommittee appointed by the Cache County Council. The members of that subcommittee are Zook, council member David Erickson, Becky Job, Andi Jorgensen, council member Barbara Tidwell, Bruce M. Cook, Dick Whittier and Reed Baldwin.
While the members of the county council unanimously endorsed the recommendations of their RAPZ and Restaurant Tax Subcommittee, they were unsympathetic to grant requests that arrived too late to be vetted by that panel.
During the meeting Tuesday, Zook suggested favorable consideration of late requests from the Summerfest Arts Faire for $20,000 and from the Summer Citizens program for $30,000.
But council member Gordon A. Zilles reminded his colleagues that the council had always rejected requests received after the program’s submission deadline in previous years.
Cache County has collected a 1 percent sales tax on prepared food since 1992 to fund support for tourism, recreation and the cultural arts. The RAPZ tax (a tenth of 1 percent sales tax) was added in 2002 to support capital projects and the operating expenses of local recreational venues.