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Ephraim will vote on RAP tax in November

 

By Lloyd Call

Associate publisher

6-25-2020

 

 

EPHRAIM—Ephraim citizens will have the option approve a Recreational, Arts and Parks (RAP) tax on the coming November ballot.

Back in December, Ephraim citizens took a survey asking about what goals they wanted for the city’s recreation program. Some options included a recreation center, skate park, expanded parks and walking/bicycle trails.

Around the first of March, the Ephraim City Council approved a request by the recreation board to prepare a city survey about passing a RAP tax to fund facilities, improvements and equipment for the city. At that time, Nate Johnson, recreation board member, explained that the RAP tax was authorized by the federal government, for use first by counties, then by cities. If approved, the RAP tax would be in effect for 10 years.

Sanpete County has granted clearance for Ephraim to proceed. By doing so, the county gives up its right to apply for a RAP tax for the entire county. Actually, the county made that decision back in 2012 when Gunnison and Fairview applied for RAP taxes of their own, opening the door for other individual municipalities to apply for their own RAP taxes.

A RAP tax is one-tenth of one-percent on sales tax (excluding food), and for Ephraim, could bring in about $100,000 per year, during the ten-year maximum term of the tax. Because the tax is approved directly by the citizens on a ballot initiative, the citizens will make the choice instead of the city council.

Mayor John Scott said, “We want to let the city know what the benefits of this tax could be. For example, currently Snow College shares a lot of recreational facilities with the city, such as the baseball fields, where the city usually holds its summer tournaments.

“We know that Snow College is growing, and could conceivably reach a point where they may want to take back exclusive control of that property, and this means it would be prudent for the city to take advantage of funding and grants to build other recreational facilities,” Scott said.

Enter the COVID-19 pandemic. All recreational programs were suspended under the red and orange lockdown procedures.

Youth and city recreation programs are currently coming to life again under the yellow status, and some recreation programs are going forward during the summer, according to Michael Patton, the city’s recreation director.

Patton said, “Without the coronavirus complication, our season would have begun May 11. Some baseball and soccer youth games are now being held, while following the state’s guidelines for social distancing and safety.

The city plans to use the time between now and November to educate citizens on the benefits of approving the RAP tax. “We plan to have public hearings, perhaps in July and October,” Patton said. “We know people will want to know what the tax is, what it will do, who’s affected by it, and what happens if the RAP tax is rejected.”

The recreation board advises the city council on how the tax revenue would be allocated, but right now the board is recommending 70-percent go to recreation, 20-percent go to parks, and 10-percent go to arts.