The 2019 Legislative Session begins Monday, January 28 and as always, Summit County will be paying attention to bills that impact tax revenues and general operations of county business. A couple of items are being watched carefully. Carolyn Murray has this:
Summit County Council member, Roger Armstrong has represented film industry clients for much of his legal career. Utah provides tax credits and incentives for film makers to bring business to the state. Armstrong was on the Governor’s Motion Picture Advisory Board for seven years and he said it’s been a hot topic. He is in favor of raising the incentives to be more competitive.
“Film incentives, state tax incentives have become a fundamental part of film finance structures throughout the entertainment industry and provisions about those are making their way into all kinds of contracts in the entertainment industry about what happens to those moneys. And, studios have been making decisions because productions have become more expensive, finding outside financing partners to help the studio’s financing, as well as state funding to boost that funding are critical.”
He said the legislature has been semi-supportive by slowly raising the incentives.
“The department of tourism and the film commission does what they can to try and boost it a little bit more. One of the hardest part of the state tax incentive is there is a cap on it and for awhile it may still be a $6.8 million-dollar annual cap. That won’t satisfy a television series. So, a TV series can’t come here on a multi-year basis without exhausting that cap.”
Armstrong said when big productions come to the Park City Film Studio to shoot projects like Yellowstone, it builds what he calls A-Level Crews.
“And, what happens is if you don’t have enough production to sustain those A-level crews, they’re going to go somewhere else. They get the training here and they’ll go to Californaia , Louisiana or someplace else where the jobs are. So, we have to make that decision. Do we want to support that industry, grow that industry and everything that comes with it. You can have lighting houses, you can have equipment houses. You can have truck rentals. You can have other industries that support film making that are good jobs but the state really has to support the growth of that for it to make sense.”
In other legislative matters, Summit County Manger, Tom Fisher is concerned about rumblings of a bill to redistribute point of sale tax revenues based on a new formula. Armstrong said there is no bill number as of this report, but they’ll watch this carefully.
The legislature is also floating the idea to restructure County Government and make all positions besides the sheriff, county council and county attorney, appointed.
Stay tuned to KPCW for biweekly updates every Monday and Thursday throughout the 45-day legislative session.