Ephraim and Mt. Pleasant approve
RAP tax propositions
By Rhett Wilkinson
Ephraim citizens gave the nod to a RAP tax, a local-option sales tax to support recreation, arts and parks, while “yes” votes for the same tax in Mt. Pleasant lead by 46 votes with approximately 500 votes left to count.
Ephraim City’s tax is called Proposition 7, while Mt. Pleasant City’s tax is called Proposition 19. Prop. 7 has taken 64.12% of the vote, with Prop. 19 taking 51.61% of its vote so far.
Ephraim’s tax will be 1/10th of 1% (1 cent on $10) on consumer goods besides gasoline and groceries. The total sales tax rate will go from 6.65 to 6.75 percent. The tax will stand for 10 years. Then residents will need to vote for it again. The aforementioned provisions of the Ephraim tax would all be part of the Mt. Pleasant tax.
“We’re not going to be able to increase our recreation programs or our arts programs or remaking our parks overnight; it’s going to happen over a period of time, but at least we are on our way,” Ephraim Mayor John Scott said. “This begins the opportunity for us to get to work to provide more service for Ephraim City residents.”
Scott said the city has a “vision” to construct a recreational center, but that it will take a “number” of years to build up sufficient funds. And the city also needs to build up its athletic field space.
“We’re running out of space,” Scott said.
Scott said 70% of dollars generated by the tax will go to recreation; 20% to parks; and 10% to arts.
“You can see that if you are going to build a facility that’s going to cost a million dollars, it’s going to take some years to save that up,” Scott said. “In the case of a recreational field, it will take several years before we can do that.”
The percentage that Prop. 7 took is “about what we were hoping for,” Scott said, noting that city recreation director Michael Patton and his assistant have “worked very hard” in getting out information about the proposition to residents.
“We feel very good,” Scott said. “We feel very good about the percentage of it passing.”
Prop. 7 will provide a projected $100,000 annually or $1 million over the next 10 years. Decisions on appropriation will be made by the city council. A few of the suggestions regard playground equipment, a recreation center and skate park.
In polls done over the late modernization of the Ephraim general plan, citizens stated they sought more recreation generally, including things for kids, adults and the elderly to do. Citizens have asked for “more focus on more trail, more indoor facilities, more outdoor facilities,” Patton said.
The tax will not be paid by citizens only, Patton said.
If you go to Walmart and get a $10 shirt, your cost was $10.66. Now, with the RAP tax passing, it will be $10.67.
“With our unique situation with Snow College and Walmart, we get quite a bit of a jump,” Patton said.
The tax will save Ephraim City taxpayers money, Patton said.
Mt. Pleasant Mayor Michael Olsen did not return a request for comment on the Prop. 19 poll numbers.
Prop. 19 faced stiff opposition in the public hearing about it. That’s when Jeff McDonald, Claudia Jarrett and other residents gave various reasons for why they opposed the tax. Jarrett said “I don’t see anything specific that you have as a goal,” stating that the city has a “small sales base and that the council is looking to put the tax on the ballot “right [in] the middle of a pandemic,” when the economy is down.
The council seemed united on the tax, but after residents spoke, Councilman Sam Draper said “I’m unsure about this November.”
Councilmen including Justin Atkinson and Russell Keisel then said that citizens should decide the fate of Prop. 19.
Draper did vote with the council to put the tax on the ballot.
The city also held an open house with information about Prop. 19. It invited Santaquin City Community Services Director John Bradley to the town hall building to talk about the benefits of the tax.
Over a decade, Prop. 19 could provide $360,000—or potentially more if local sales go up.
A five-member group would be selected to advise how to allocate the revenue. The city council would ultimately make the decision, Olsen said in a Mt. Pleasant city council meeting.
Expenses that have been suggested regard enhancements at the Mt. Pleasant City Park, including improvements to restrooms, putting in pickleball courts and buying new playground supplies. Another recommendation has been investing more into supplies for youth sports.
The North Sanpete Arts Council would like to make a youth memorial garden at Wagon Wheel Park by the North Sanpete High School canopy on State Street. It would be a monument to kids and youth who have passed away.
“This area will be interactive, accessible to the public and friendly to all ages and easily seen,” the arts council said. “This site will be dedicated to all those who have lost their lives and with permission, the names of those lost will be engraved in stone. This area will be built to create awareness, promote strong family values and unite community values.”
Community members would be permitted to propose their own ideas for how to utilize the tax.