Wasatch County, Heber, Midway would distribute RAP Tax money by population

The RAP Tax is a local sales tax that would generate income that Heber City, Midway and the county could use for recreation, arts and parks.

It will only go into effect after the November 2 municipal election if  Wasatch County voters vote in favor of it.

The new tax would add a tenth of a cent on the dollar to the current sales tax rate for the next 10 years. It would apply to all shopping, except most groceries.

The county says it would generate an estimated sum of $800,000 in its first year and more in years to come. It also estimates as much as half of that would be from visitors to the county.

"We have not gotten ahead of the public by really introducing what the RAP Tax would do and how the money would be spent, and I still don't think we have very good answers from a county-wide perspective," Councilwoman Rachel Kahler said at a city council meeting last week. "From the city, I think we have a good plan moving forward, but I'm really fearful that this first attempt to pass the RAP Tax will leave more questions than answers."

The city has outlined a parks master plan, which is on the website for its general plan, envisionheber.com.

As described in the parks plan, the estimated $800,000 would be for new trails, parks and arts programs, as well as improvements to existing facilities.

The plan says there is space in future development plans for seven new parks or expansions, adding up to 45 total acres. The city's goal is to develop at least 19 of those acres into functioning parks by 2030.

Another push is to fill gaps in the current trail system.

In a video about the tax, County Councilman Mark Nelson describes how it would benefit arts initiatives county-wide. It would fund grant programs for visual, performing and literary arts, as well as arts education.

At the council meeting, Heber City Manager Matt Brower presented a draft interlocal agreement between the two cities and the county.

The agreement would be to pool all the tax money from shoppers anywhere in the county and distribute it to the cities and county based on populations. Heber City would get half, the county would get 35%, and Midway would get 15%.

Once they receive payments, they would have three years to use or obligate them. Obligating the money means setting it aside for a specified project plan.

The interlocal agreement also specifies that the three entities would follow state code in using the funds on local recreation, arts and parks.

Another provision would allow the cities and county to share or lend their revenues with each other if they choose.

Wasatch County voters are expected to receive mailed ballots this week.

The next Heber City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 19.
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