Zook tackles local gas prices and urges support of RAPZ and Open Space initiatives

File photo.

LOGAN — On the monthly County Hour during KVNU’s For the People program on Wednesday, Cache County Executive David Zook said there are many smart people in the county and he believes there is no problem that cannot be solved if they get the right people at the table.

So, with that, he proposed putting together a task force to study gas prices.

“I have been hearing about this and I have been wondering what the solution is to this forever, it seems like. So, this is what I’m going to do, I’m putting together a group to investigate why the gas prices in Cache Valley are more expensive than on the other side of the mountain. I want to know that,” he explained.

While prices have come down more than a dollar from their high a few months ago, Zook said he and his wife traveled to the Wasatch Front over the past weekend and noticed gas was $4.12 a gallon in Brigham City.

“And then we came over the mountain, we came into Cache Valley, it was almost 50 cents more per gallon. A friend of mine went to Spanish Fork, it was $3.99 per gallon…another friend of mine went to Island Park, (Idaho) this weekend, it was cheaper in Island Park than Logan.”

Zook said he has had conversations with people and he plans to gather some experts together to investigate this.

He acknowledged that maybe there’s nothing that can be done about it, but at least he would like to know the reason for the higher prices locally.

Zook also reminded voters that there are a couple important bond initiatives on the ballot this November.

One has to do with preserving Open Space and also the reauthorization of the RAPZ tax. RAPZ stands for Recreation, Arts, Parks and Zoo and voters approved a 1/10 of one percent sales tax to support those functions 20 years ago.

They voted to reauthorize it in 2012 and now voters have another opportunity to decide its future this year.

During the hour, Gary Griffin, managing director of the Utah Festival Opera called in to talk about how important the RAPZ tax is to the arts community.

Most of the people that come to the Utah Festival Opera come from out-of-town. We only get about 30 percent of our audience from Cache Valley. Half of our audience comes from outside of the state of Utah, and the other 25 percent come from Salt Lake and Provo and areas like this. They spend a lot of money here, money that we never see but the citizens of Cache County really benefit from having the opera company and drawing all those people in,” Griffin said.

He said they have done studies on the economic impact and it means tens of millions of dollars come in as a result of the Utah Festival Opera.

The other bond issue has to do with Open Space. Zook said it is something that he has been hearing about for years. People are concerned that the things that make this valley beautiful are being gobbled up by development.

“A couple of years ago, several of us got together and we said ‘what can we do about this?’ The same approach, we brought the best minds we could get, people who were passionate about this, and we started talking about it. We’ve been talking about it for a few years now, what’s going to happen. The pandemic hit, that group kind of disbanded for a while, and then we started it up and I just said, ‘you guys work on this, see what you can come up with,’” Zook said.

What they came up with was a bond that they asked the county council to put on the ballot, to which they agreed. It is Proposition 1 that will raise $20 million to preserve open space.

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