You may remember that when COVID hit and sales tax revenues plunged, the city closed the swimming pool/gym. We city councilmembers got a world of complaints. The Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center is the city’s most popular amenity and unfortunately the most expensive to run. It’s always lost money despite user fees. (It’s now partially open.)
It turns out there is one more sales tax the city can impose if residents so approve: Proposition 8, also called the Recreation, Arts, and Parks (RAP) tax. It’s quite modest: 0.1% or a dime for every $100 spent at a local shop, restaurant or overnight accommodation.
Since unprepared food and gasoline are exempt, it will most heavily hit visitors. In a normal (non-COVID) year we expect it will raise $300-400K.
While it may be spent on city recreational, cultural or zoological programs or facilities, expect it to go towards the MRAC, Moab Arts and Recreation Center, sports programs and parks. You can participate in its distribution, as always, during the city’s annual budgeting process. The tax expires after 10 years and may only be renewed with additional voter approval.
In my two and a half years on the Moab City Council, I constantly see how we all love our recreation amenities, but we much prefer that somebody else pay for them. That implies that visitors pay the bills, which in turn begets hotels, short-term rentals and choked roads, a downside of industrial tourism. This proposed sales tax will cushion the revenue that supports recreation in the event of unusual loss of visitation like this year. Much the same argument can be applied to a potential modest future municipal property tax (virtually every other city in Utah has one), but that is a public discussion for another day.
Nobody likes taxes. But this one is largely paid by visitors, is not burdensome and helps the city where it most needs help: keeping popular public recreation, arts and parks healthy.
I encourage you to vote FOR Proposition 8 on your November ballot. Support local recreation!
Moab City Councilmember