Historic Park City Alliance Opposes Expanding the Scope of the Additional Resort Sales Tax
With a public hearing for the park city arts and culture district scheduled for the end of the month, the Historic Park City Alliance has come out in opposition to the city’s possible use of funds from the additional resort sales tax to help finance the project.
The ARST is a 1.6% tax on purchases made in Park City. Enacted in the late 2000s and expanded in 2013, its revenue is used to fund open space projects, as well as street improvements in Old Town and Main Street. The tax brings in over $3 million in additional revenue annually.
Late last month, the Park City City Council discussed the option of expanding the scope of the ARST to include the arts and culture district project. City Hall has made it clear that this would not be a tax increase, but would allow for the tax revenue to help cover some of the expected $100 million price tag for the project.
The arts and culture district is currently funded in part by the city’s transient room tax, which is added to lodging stays in the city of less than 30 consecutive days.
At this week’s Historic Park City Alliance board meeting, the business community in old town came out largely opposed to altering the scope of the ARST at all.
Park City Manager Matt Dias told KPCW on Wednesday that since the tax is collected from all registered businesses in park city, regardless of location, where the funds go is ultimately up to the mayor and city council to decide.
“To be clear, it’s a city-wide sales tax,” he said. “That sales tax is drawn from every licensed business in town that has some type of a sales tax transaction irrespective of their location. Irrespective of whether they’re located on main street or in the Prospector square business district or up on our ski mountains. It’s a city-wide sales tax.”
Some of the pushback from city council on the arts and culture district has not necessarily been about the costs of the project, but rather what else the community could be doing with the money.
Counselor Steve Joyce has said the decision, for him, is all about opportunity cost and what the city could be potentially missing out on by tying up so much money in one large project.
That sentiment is shared by the HPCA, said executive director Alison Kuhlow.
“What we are pursuing is talking to city council and letting them know our feelings and decision that we made yesterday with regards to the funds,” Kuhlow said. “I know that City Manager Dias had talked about the ability for Main Street to continue to receive funding from projects, but there I think the largest concern comes from is just that the way that they’re proposing funding for the arts and culture district, it really does max out the bonding capacity of both the resort city sales tax as well as the transient room tax for at least nine years.”
Despite the concern, when it comes to what the ARST funding is being used for, Dias said the projects identified as priorities over the last decade could use a refresh. He said looking into diverting funds to other projects like the arts and culture district is part of the public input process.
“Not that it’s dormant or it’s not relevant anymore, I just think it needs a new set of eyes, a reprioritization and probably a lot more work would go into that before we would explore some of the projects on it,” said Dias.
The city will be hosting two upcoming events on the arts and culture district. A community roundtable on March 29th and a full public hearing on March 31st.