County may commit $125,000 per year to Tuacahn, with conditions

Tuacahn Amphitheatre at Tuacahn Center for the Arts, Ivins, Utah, date not specified | Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Washington County is considering a pledge of $125,000 annually to Tuacahn Center for the Arts for 10 years out of the county’s share of RAP tax revenues, with conditions.

County RAP tax advisory board chairman Gary Sanders presented the board’s recommendation to the County Commission at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The county’s Recreation, Arts and Parks tax, or RAP tax, passed in the 2014 general election. It is expected to generate $2 million per year to help fund recreational and cultural facilities and organizations within the county.

RAP tax funds are divided between the county and its municipalities, according to a formula: Fifteen percent goes to the county to be distributed. Of the remaining 85 percent, two-thirds will be divided among the county and municipalities based on population and one-third based on “point of sale” where the sales tax was actually collected.

Read more: County Commission refines RAP tax agreement

The RAP tax revenue the county will receive is estimated at $400,000 per year, Commissioner Victor Iverson said, and the county wants to commit $125,000 of that to the Tuacahn Center for the Arts.

Tuacahn attracts thousands of visitors each year and brings an estimated $75 million in economic benefit to Washington County, Ivins Mayor Chris Hart said in a previous interview; but, Tuacahn is in serious need of financing for critical maintenance and other capital improvements.

Read more: Tuacahn funding urgent; Ivins commits $200,000, asks other cities follow suit

The need for infrastructure repairs is urgent because work must be done between November and April 2016, and work cannot begin until funds are committed to finish the projects.


The county RAP advisory board fast-tracked Tuacahn’s application, based on the art center’s need. The board recommended the funding for a period of 10 years because the RAP tax will expire at that point and need to be renewed by voters.

“If it’s renewed in 10 years … that can be something that can be looked at with the next advisory board,” Sanders said.

Tuacahn is seeking bonds with a 20-year life span, and several area cities have already committed a portion of their expected RAP tax revenue.

The RAP tax advisory board recommended the funding commitment carry these conditions:

  •  The commission may nominate a director to serve as a member on the Tuacahn board of directors to represent the interests of the county taxpayers, with the board seat to be in perpetuity
  • Tuacahn will submit a written plan for addressing ways to enhance and encourage use of Tuacahn’s performance and rehearsal facilities by other Washington County arts organizations; the plan should also specify ways to encourage ongoing collaborative projects with other local arts organizations, and the plan should be submitted to the county RAP tax board by Nov. 30
  • Tuacahn will submit a projected schedule for completion of each element of the $9.5 million capital improvement project to the County Commission by Nov. 30; and Tuacahn shall submit quarterly reports detailing the project’s progress until the improvements are finished

The Commission plans to take official action on the board’s recommendations at the next regular meeting.

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  • Forsooth October 7, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I really don’t want to be that guy, but $75 million in economic benefit from Tuacahn? Per year? Really? I’d be very interested to see a breakdown of those numbers because that’s quite the claim.

  • Billy Madison October 7, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Every building needs maintenance of some kind. Yeah they contribute to the local economy but so do I. I need rain-gutters, will the County fix my gutters? Tuacahn charges enough for tickets and are sold out often that I think that they should do their own upkeep.

    • ladybugavenger October 7, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      You need a #fundraiser

  • St. G October 7, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Looking forward to the day with StG News has the resources to provide balanced coverage. Still, this heads up of another socialistic tax is helpful.

    • Rainbow Dash October 7, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      I think Stg News is a good paper. I think it is pretty adequately balanced especially when it comes to the opinion columnists. I do wish they’d hire a few more liberal minded journalists though. Even so, it it still a lot more balanced then The Spectrum though they are getting better too.

  • anybody home October 7, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Go ahead and be that guy, because you’re right in asking for a breakdown of those numbers. After years working in the arts, I’ve seen a lot of claims and this one looks like a whopper. Let’s see – ticket sales, meals in local restaurants, hotel/motel charges, salaries for performers and stage hands, gas from local pumps, and then what? Sounds like they’re counting every penny spent in Utah and beyond. I hope the SGN will publish the figures when they’re available.

    • Brian October 8, 2015 at 7:52 am

      Tuacahn has 1,920 seats, and let’s say they do 180 performances a year. That’s 345,600 attendees (assuming everything is sold out), which comes out to $217 per attendee. My family goes out there, and we spend almost zero other than tickets, since we’re local. Let’s assume half of the attendees are local. That means non-local attendees have to spend $434 per person for their stay, per person. I definitely think that’s high. So maybe $25M in local economic benefits is more realistic. $75M seems pie-in-the-sky high. I was vigorously opposed to the RAP tax (still am), but if the tax exists for this purpose, I think giving 1/3 of the county-level money to Tuacahn is probably reasonable, as nothing else even comes close to their scope in sheer size, quality, or reach, and they definitely bring value to southern Utah.

  • 42214 October 7, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Make it on you own through ticket sales and contributions or shut down. Public subsidy is wrong, period.

  • izzymuse October 7, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    “The board recommended the funding for a period of 10 years because the RAP tax will expire at that point and need to be renewed by voters.”

    Did voters vote on the first 10 years?
    This whole RAP Tax is ridiculous to begin with! Privatize! If they can’t survive, then they (the Recreation, Arts, and Parks sector) need to cut costs and figure out a way to be marketable—- just like all of us in the business sector do!

    I love the arts, but NOT on the tax payer’s backs!

  • NotSoFast October 7, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Next we’ll see various gasoline stations requesting a cut of the RAP tax income for needed upgrades to their soda pop dispensers for the benefit of thirsty out of town visitors. While at the same time, the local art community is struggling to survive.
    ‘Built it and they will come’. (hum) I wonder who the Tuacahn Corporation’s lobbyist is, sweet talking the county, asking for stimulates funds from the RAP tax pie?

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