Summit County Council Approves $2.4M in Restaurant Tax Grants to Boost Economy
Coming out of a year of pandemic, the Summit County Council on Wednesday approved restaurant tax grants for the 2021 fiscal year that are designed to boost events and activities that increase visitation to the county.
The Restaurant Tax Advisory Committee reported there were 51 qualified applications that asked for a total of over $5.2 million. The available funds this year amounted to about $2.4 million.
Committee co-chair Terri Whitney was asked if the county’s tourist economy is getting back to some kind of normalcy.
“I think we were pretty excited that it seems like people are starting to travel,” Whitney said. “So we looked at these grants and said, ‘Okay how can we capture those people that are wanting to be here, and get the best return for our money.’ And I think that was pretty coherent through the whole process, cause we really think that this year, I mean summer’s already showing that. Our TRT numbers are already up above what we expected.”
The transient room tax (TRT) is an important source of revenue from visitors.
Some of the applicants that received their entire requested funding included the Park City Lodging Association and the Park City Chamber/Bureau.
The committee said that due to a lower fund balance after last year, they weren’t funding any requests for capital expenditures.
Projects denied funding included a new Basin Rec community park near Trailside, a trail system planned by the South Summit Trails Foundation; the Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History Thaynes mine shaft stabilization; and requests from Park City such as turf replacement and equipment for the Round Valley trail system.
Also, a first-time request from the Utah Chinese Association for a summer food festival in June was turned down. But the committee asked the group to apply next year with a more concrete plan.
County Councilor Chris Robinson asked the committee members if they can direct more restaurant tax funding to the east side of Summit County.
“I just hope that somewhere in the calculus here that Eastern Summit County can ride on the coattails of its wealthy neighbor to the west that generates all of this,” he said.
Committee members noted they did recommend grants for the Oakley Rodeo and the Oakley Car Show.
Later on, Councilor Glenn Wright said that if more East Side programs apply for grants, they will likely be rewarded.
“That’s the theory,” Wright said. “As one of the committee members said, the object is to put butts in seats.”
Wright added the council made another decision Wednesday that helps infrastructure by approving an $8.8 million bond resolution, funded out of RAP taxes slotted for recreation.