Carbon commission evaluates restaurant tax funding requests
The Carbon County Commission approved allocating $11,150 in restaurant tax monies to the Helper Western Mining and Railroad Museum at the regularly scheduled public meeting on Oct. 15. The museum had requested $22,300 to fund updates and exhibits at the facility.
"What the restaurant tax committee has suggested is that we grant the museum half of its request and then see how the project proceeds before we consider the rest," said Commissioner Steven Burge.
Requests for money from the fund, generated by a special levy collected throughout the county when meals are purchased in restaurants, are reviewed by the tax board. The panel's recommendations are forwarded to the county commission for approval. The board met Oct. 9 and sent recommendations to the commission last week.
There were also five other requests and the recommendations came before the commission at last Wednesday's meeting.
The first request was for $10,057 for Price city's purchase of portable pitching mounds.
"The pitching mounds on some of our city fields are quite an issue between the baseball teams and the softball operations," explained Price community director Nick Tatton at the board meeting. "One day, the mounds will be built up and, the next day, they are torn down according to their use. These portable mounds would make everything a lot better."
The mounds would be set up, taken down and stored by city employees after every use, added the community director.
"With proper storage, they would last five to six years," said Tatton.
At the Oct. 15 meeting, Commissioner Bill Krompel indicated he "liked the benefit to the children of the community" provided by the mounds. But the restaurant tax committee had recommended tabling the request until the city could supply more information about at what ballfields the mounds would be used.
The next funding issue the committee and commission considered was a request from the Carbon Country Club for $16,000 to rebuild tee boxes at the golf course in Carbonville.
"Some of our boxes are not in very good shape," said golf pro and course manager Tom King. "We want to start with the worst ones first and then do them all. We need to peel back the grass and grade the boxes from back to front to a one percent grade. Most are very level and need the grade. We also need to expand at least two of the boxes."
Some of the work on the tee boxes will be done in-house and some by contractors, King pointed out.
Questions from the committee concerned the use of the private-public golf course. Half of the course is privately held, while the other half is owned by the county.
King said surveys by employees booking tee times show that slightly more than 43 percent of the use of the course is by residents from Carbon and Emery counties. About 35 percent come from the Wasatch Front, while a small percentage of the bookings came from unknown sources, said King.
Responding to committee questions regarding the course's financial condition, the golf pro said the facility "operated in the black" last year despite the fact there is no large advertising budget.
"We have a lot of rounds of golf played on the course," stated King. "Last year, it was between 40,000 and 50,000 rounds played."
The committee recommended awarding half of the golf course's request or $8,000 in 2004. The county commission approved the recommendation.
An unrelated funding application came from Helper in connection with the city's annual holiday celebrations.
The Utah Christmas Town's organizing committee had asked for $5,500 for advertising the 2003 holiday festivities.
The restaurant tax committee suggest awarding $1,500 to Helper and the commission agreed with the recommendation.
"The restaurant tax board has been trying to get away from spending as much on advertising campaigns for events and put more into concrete improvements," said Burge.
The county has an agency which spends a lot of money on advertising the local area as a whole - the travel bureau.
The travel bureau had also requested $4,947 in restaurant tax monies to help with the redesign and reprinting of the Wide-Open Spaces brochures the agency has been using to promote tourism Carbon County.
The restaurant tax committee members were concerned about the fact that, while local lodging properties were listed in the brochure, food service agencies were not.
At the commission meeting, travel bureau director Kathy Smith pointed out that a pocket-sized supplement to the brochure has been designed for the purpose in question.
"When we send the Wide Open-Spaces brochures out, the separate restaurant guides are included inside," noted Smith. "That way, people can pull them out and carry them in their pockets. They are a separate piece of literature, but are included in the package."
The committee recommended full funding for the travel bureau's request and the commission acted accordingly.
The restaurant tax committee tabled a request for $1,000 to help College of Eastern Utah Ballet Repertory Ensemble with financing for costumes, choreography, music, research, set design and construction, lighting and items specific to the group's operations.
Because the restaurant tax panel's members had several questions about the request and the group's director was not at the meeting, the issue was moved to the committee's January 2004 meeting agenda.