CACHE COUNTY – After prolonged discussions on May 14, the members of the Cache County Council backed away from granting their approval of recommendations made by the citizen volunteers of the RAPZ/Restaurant Tax Committee.

Council member Nolan Gunnell threw a monkey-wrench in those proceedings by objecting to a recommended grant of $200,000 to fund a feasibility study of a proposed Cache County recreation center.

Gunnell, who represents the south district of Cache County, said he preferred to fully fund “shovel-ready” projects proposed by Wellsville City and also favored providing additional funds to Top Of Utah Marathon.

Gunnell especially expressed concern about funding the study of the hypothetical county recreation center with a grant that constituted 11 percent of the more than $2.2 million of funding recommended by the RAPZ Tax committee.

North Logan Mayor Lyndsay Peterson spoke in favor of the feasibility study. Peterson said that she had the support of nine local mayors who had pledged to contribute funds to the proposed feasibility study, but viewed the leadership responsibility as being most appropriate for county officials.

Not so, according to council Chair David Erickson.

Supported by council advisor Micah Safsten, Erickson argued that the provisions of the recently-renewed Recreation, Arts, Park and Zoos Tax and the associated county Restaurant Tax do not specifically mention the funding of feasibility studies. Moreover, such studies tend to be little more than self-fulfilling prophecies, he added.

“Recreation is a choice,” Erickson insisted, which should be paid for by the people who use it, not by the general citizenry. “I’m opposed to growing government for recreation.”

Council members Barbara Tidwell and Karl Ward supported Erickson’s view, while council members Kathryn Beus, Sandi Goodlander and Mark Hurd seemed in favor of proceeding with a vote on the RAPZ/Restaurant committee’s recommendations.

But Gunnell said that he needed to consult with mayors in the south end of the county before voting on those recommendations.

Gunnell and Erickson are both facing stiff competition from challengers Devron Andersen and Jon-David Jorgensen in the upcoming GOP primary on Tuesday, June 25.

After carefully considering more than $5.6 million in requests from local municipalities and non-profit groups, the RAPZ/Restaurant committee had recommended more than $2.1 million in disbursements from restaurant tax revenues and an additional more than $2.2 million from RAPZ tax revenues.

Cache County has collected a 1 percent sales tax on prepared food since 1992 to fund support for tourism, recreation and the cultural arts.

The RAPZ (Recreation, Arts, Parks and Zoos) Tax  — which is a tenth of 1 percent sales tax  — was added in 2002 to support capital projects and the operating expenses of local recreational venues.

As of 2023, organizations in Cache County have been awarded more than $54 million in grants.

That included more than $26 million from RAPZ revenues for projects that support recreation, arts, parks and Zootah at Willow Park.

The county has also collected and distributed an addition $28 million from the 1 percent restaurant tax revenues.

Those funds can be used for either capital projects or maintenance expenses by publicly-owned facilities for tourism promotion, recreation, cultural arts, convention centers and airports.

The RAPZ tax was renewed by Cache County voters in 2012 and 2022.

For years, Logan City has served the county’s need for indoor recreation facilities through a long-standing agreement with Logan High School to share community facilities at 195 South, 100 West in Logan.

With that agreement expected to end in 2025, many residents and organizations – including Cache County Development Services — are now looking to Cache County to step up to what they consider its perceived responsibilities in the recreational area.

The Cache County Council will reconsider the more than $4.3 million in grant recommendations from the RAPZ/Restaurant Tax committee at their next meeting on Tuesday, May 28.

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