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RAP tax to appear on 2022 Wasatch County ballot — again

A Wasatch County RAP tax would generate funding for county-wide recreation, arts and parks, like the Muirfield Dog Park in Heber City.
Ben Lasseter
A Wasatch County RAP tax would generate funding for county-wide recreation, arts and parks, like the Muirfield Dog Park in Heber City.

Wasatch County voters rejected a recreation, arts and parks tax in the 2021 election by a razor-thin margin. This week, the county council decided to try again in the upcoming election in November. 

The RAP tax is a sales tax that generates money for recreation, arts and parks projects. If Wasatch County voters pass a RAP tax this year, it will add a penny for every $10 spent in the county. It would not apply to most grocery sales.

On Wednesday, the Wasatch County Council voted unanimously to put a RAP tax on the ballot in 2022. Last year, the tax failed to pass by eight votes out of more than 7,500 voters.

Several council members at Wednesday’s council meeting said they believe it has a better chance of passing this year if the county can inform more people about it.

“I talked to many citizens after last year who hadn’t heard of it, didn’t know what it was, didn’t know what it was for, hadn’t been informed, and that’s why they voted against it or didn’t vote at all,” Council Chair Mark Nelson said. “I’m for it. I think we should do it.”

The proposed tax would last for 10 years, at which time voters would decide whether to renew it.

The county estimated a RAP tax would have generated $800,000 in its first year, half of which would have come from non-residents visiting Wasatch County.

Nelson said the council received two letters in support of the county putting the RAP tax on the ballot. Those were from the Wasatch Community Foundation and the Wasatch Arts Council.

“There are a lot of new people that are moving in, and we need to alert them to what this is about,” said Pat Sweeney, president of the arts council, at the meeting. “We can’t wait until the last minute to start getting this out; that’s sort of what happened last year.”

Before Wednesday, both Heber City and Midway notified Wasatch County they would put it on their local ballots if the county didn’t seek its own RAP tax again.

Heber City’s parks plan outlines new trails, parks and arts programs, as well as improvements to existing facilities, as future goals. One goal of the RAP tax was to help fund 19 acres of new park development by 2030. More on the plan is explained at envisionheber.com.

Dozens of Utah cities and counties have already adopted RAP taxes, especially where tourism is popular. Those include Summit County, Salt Lake County, Provo, Orem, Duchesne City and Spanish Fork.

Last week, the Wasatch County Council approved a sales tax worth 0.25% to fund public transit and roads, which applies to sales in the county other than groceries and gas. That one didn’t require public approval and will go into effect next year.

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