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A tiny tax can add up to a big benefit- Ephraim, Mt. Pleasant should vote ‘YES’

 

10-15-2020

 

Yes, the RAP tax (RAP stands for Recreation, Arts and Parks) is a tax increase, albeit a rather tiny one.

But it’s amazing how tiny contributions from a lot of people, including visitors from outside the taxing community, can add up.

Those contributions, earmarked for recreation, arts and parks, can enrich the quality of life, the soul, of a community by helping pay for youth sports, parks, trails, historic preservation and community events, to name a few possibilities.

That’s why we urge voters in Mt. Pleasant and Ephraim to vote “yes” on the local-option tax on the ballots just mailed to you. On the Mt. Pleasant ballot, the tax is Proposition 19. In Ephraim, it’s Proposition 7.

In the 1990s, the Utah Legislature passed a law permitting a county or city to put a proposition on the ballot raising sales tax in the jurisdiction by .1 percent, or 1/10 of 1 percent. That’s a penny on every $10 of taxable purchases. (Groceries and gasoline are exempt).

In both Ephraim and Mt. Pleasant, the sales tax would go from 6.65 to 7.75 percent. The total cost of a $10 purchase, with state and other sales taxes already in effect, would go from $10.66 to $10.67.

The tax runs for 10 years. Then voters have to approve it again or it ceases to be charged.

The Utah Tax Commission reported that in Mt. Pleasant, the tax would have brought in $36,000 in 2019. That should translate to $360,000 over 10 years, or even more with economic growth.

In Ephraim, the tax would bring in an estimated $100,000 per year, or $1 million over 10 years.

Since 1996, counties and cities around the state have passed RAP taxes (the taxes sometimes have other names, depending on the community) with virtually all of the jurisdictions involved declaring RAP to be a wonderful idea.

In Salt Lake County, the first location to pass the tax, voters have reauthorized it twice, each time by a bigger margin.

In 2012, after people in the Gunnison Valley observed that the volunteer-run youth recreation program simply wasn’t holding together, a RAP tax went on the ballot in four municipalities Voters in three of the four towns approved it. A regional recreation program was set up serving the three towns.

Robert Anderson, chairman of the Gunnison Valley Recreation Board, says, “It has helped us at least have a part-time recreation director. It has helped us upgrade equipment for different sports. We’ve added a lot of sports that we weren’t able to support limited funds. It’s a good thing. We would we be in a world of hurt without it.”

In anticipation of the vote in Mt. Pleasant, the North Sanpete Arts Council issued this statement: “The North Sanpete Arts Council is dedicated to educating and promoting the arts in our community. Additional funding would boost our ability to start new programs here in Mt. Pleasant and enhance our city.

“Opportunities for ongoing arts and crafting classes, city beautification projects, and monuments dedicated to history and culture are available with consistent funding. Regular funding is crucial to the care and maintenance of installations, and helps to make programs permanent.”

There will ample opportunity for residents to chime in with their own ideas. But first, they need to pass the tax. Please vote, and if you live in Mt. Pleasant or Ephraim, vote “yes” on Proposition 19 or Proposition 7.