Wasatch County Looks At Fiscal Impact Of Hosting Events
Wasatch County Council recently received a report on the economic impact of events in the county, what do the trends mean for future events in the county?
The data for the analysis came from Heber Valley Tourism and Wasatch County. Wasatch County Assistant County Manager Dustin Grabau looked at the data from 2015 to the present.
“On average for each event that takes place in Wasatch County, the County receives about $3,000 in tax revenue spread across three different tax sources," Grabau said. "Those being the restaurant tax, the sales tax, and the County option tax.”
In all Wasatch County averages 126 events a year, among the most popular being Swiss Days in Midway, The Sheepdog Championships at Soldier Hollow, and the Cowboy Poetry Festival in Heber. In total the estimated impact is $370,000 directly to the county which is about 10% of the county’s $3.2 million revenue from the three tax sources.
Grabau says they cannot isolate and measure the impact of individual events.
“You need lots of observations in order to draw conclusions from them," Grabau continued. "So, the more observations you have the stronger the conclusion you draw. So, if I were to pull out a single event it's harder to say with confidence how much that impacted. Now the travel and tourism bureau, they are interested in looking at a tool that would help evaluate specific events. Basically, where you plug in how many people come to the event, what type of event it is, and it accesses the proprietary database. That has information about spending types and regional differences and items that would affect it. Then that would estimate on total impact for event, not just on the county's tax revenue—which is what I was looking at—but throughout the community. So, this is for people who are employed or have businesses that are affected by those events, and all of the taxing entities including the cities and the state.”
Recently the Bonanza Campout Music Festival at the base of the Jordanelle Dam was cancelled in Wasatch County. The festival, in its fourth year, was unable to secure permits to sell alcohol at the event from the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control or DABC. The 2018 festival had five DABC violations including allowing patrons use drugs on the premises additionally a man was also charged with rape at the festival.
Park City is no stranger to balancing the benefits of events with the impacts on citizens. To address event fatigue, the city created the Special Events Advisory Committee which advises city council regarding special events from citizens viewpoints.
Grabau says the county council has to weigh the economic impacts of events with other impacts.
“While we do recognize that there is an economic benefit from hosting these events, there are some other community impacts that also affect whether or not we want to encourage or incentivize events to come in and what the impact is on to the community," Grabau explained. "I think there's still a fair amount of work to be done on that front of how we might help to quantify or understand what types of events take place and how we might prioritize their support from the County.”