Commission questions recommendations for restaurant tax funding
Carbon County commissioners voted to review recommendations from the restaurant tax advisory board last week. In the regularly scheduled meeting on April 20, the commission accepted one of the recommendations with some revision, but left the others tabled pending review with members of the restaurant tax board.
The restaurant tax board received six requests for funding, and made recommendations on all six.
"The recommendations are inconsistent," said Commissioner Steve Burge.
With Commissioner Michael Milovich unable to attend the meeting, Burge and Commissioner Bill Krompel discussed the board's recommendations, with both agreeing that the recommendations seemed inconsistent with each other as well as inconsistent with statements by the board in previous years.
"In the past they said infrastructure, infrastructure, and now they deny those types of requests," said Burge.
Carbon County made a request for an amount between $80,000 and $100,000 to pay for labor costs associated with completing projects at the fairgrounds, including softball fields and the motocross track.
"We're pressed to do the projects. This would accelerate that and enable us to get that done," explained Krompel.
The board recommended a grant with matching loan not to exceed a $100,000 combined.
"I don't think we should get into borrowing money from ourselves," said Burge.
The commission approved the grant to itself in the amount of $50,000. Krompel suggested that the project may be conceivable with that amount, but both Krompel and Burge agreed that if the project goes over that budget, they could seek alternate funding or use the restaurant tax money.
Sunnyside requested $24,000 from the board for improvements to its park. The plan was to make the entrances to the park more accessible for those with disabilities and improve the electrical infrastructure to accommodate vendors at the annual Community Daze hosted at the park.
That request was denied in the recommendation, encouraging the city to seek its funding from an alternate source such as the county's recreation and transportation and special service district.
East Carbon had requested $4,450 for canvas tent covers and improvements to the Sunnyside City Park. East Carbon and Sunnyside share the park for Community Daze, which the two cities alternate hosting. East Carbon planned to build a retaining wall in its own park and put new sand in the Sunnyside Park. The board recommended that the county fund the tent covers, but deny the other requests.
The board denied two requests for funding of fireworks. One request came from Scofield, the other from the county fairgrounds. The commission agreed that if the requests for these two groups were not met, Carbon County would likely have no fireworks on July 4.
County fair and rodeo organizers requested $7,500 to cover costs of advertising for the fair. The board recommended to grant the fair $2,500, indicating that they believed the request did not completely fall in line with the proscribed use of restaurant tax dollars.
"I felt all beat up. They said the rodeo isn't making money and that I should get rid of it," said Rhonda Peterson, an organizer for the fair and rodeo.
Peterson explained to the commission that she believed the fair was one of the most widely attended events in the community, attracting both community members and tourists.
"Clearly there are thousands of people at the rodeo," said Burge after Peterson showed him photographs of the crowds gathered to watch the event.
The Helper Arts Festival requested $9,000 in restaurant tax monies. The board recommended that they receive $7,500, and that the amount be decreased annually until the festival receives no money.
The commission suggested to organizers of the arts festival that they contact organizers of other festivals in the state and ask if they receive financial support from their communities.
Both Krompel and Burge voted to meet with members of the restaurant tax board within the next two weeks to ascertain the views of the board members.
"I think you can count on the recommended amounts as a minimum," said Krompel, indicating that the commission would look to increase those amounts where possible.
In an unrelated matter, the commission also approved the use of the garage at the county animal shelter for a monthly spay and neuter clinic. The clinic currently uses space in Downtown Price, but will lose their rights to use the current space after their May clinic.
"I think this would be good in the long run," said Krompel, indicating that by providing the clinic, the county may be able to get a better hold on an ongoing animal problem.
The clinic is funded entirely by grants, and schedules clinics the second Tuesday of each month. The indicated that they are willing to cooperate with the county, offering to pay utilities. They also said they would be willing to spay or neuter animals from the shelter if they had cancellations.