County may implement new 1% restaurant tax
Apr 14, 2010 | 5003 views | 0 0 comments | 350 350 recommendations | email to a friend | print
San Juan County is considering a new tax that could help generate up to $250,000 a year in sales tax revenue. The proposed Tourism, Recreation, Convention and Cultural (TRCC) tax would impose a one-percent sales tax on restaurants.

Commissioners discussed the proposal at a public hearing as part of the April 12 Commission meeting.

Charlie DeLorme, director of visitor services for San Juan County, said that the funds could be used for a host of purposes, including the development of tourism infrastructure.

“This is how the Salt Palace and the Davis Convention Center were built,” said DeLorme. DeLorme added that San Juan County could develop facilities or programs to strengthen the local tourist trade.

Of the 29 counties in Utah, 26 use the TRCC tax. Counties have had the option to implement the program since 1991. To date, every county in the state has a TRCC tax, except San Juan, Piute and Millard counties.

A number of restaurant owners voiced their concern with the plan.

In addition, Blanding businessman Phil Lyman expressed his opposition to the proposal. Lyman stated that there is already enough government and enough taxes.

Lyman is the only candidate on the November 2 ballot in the race to replace Commissioner Lynn Stevens.

While the Commissioners did not identify specific projects that the tax could support, convention centers and new county fairgrounds have been discussed for a number of years.

DeLorme reports that figures from the Utah State Tax Commission were used to make the $250,000 per year estimated revenue.

Grand County generates roughly $250,000 a year from a TRCC program. DeLorme said that while Moab has many restaurants, the restaurants in Monticello, Blanding, Bluff Mexican Hat, and Monument Valley together would generate as much revenue as do the Moab restaurants.

The sales tax would be for food establishment where the food is prepared and consumed on the premises. A local advisory council would be responsible to oversee the use of the funds that are collected.

DeLorme reports that two years ago, he was an opponent of the TRCC tax. But after he was given an assignment by the Commission to research the program, he came to see how the funds could be used to build tourism.

He added that an increase in the Transient Room Tax (TRT) has helped the local motels during an economic downturn.

Commissioner Lynn Stevens suggested that the commissioners visit with representatives of other counties who use the TRCC option. Commissioners are scheduled to attend meetings of the Utah Association of Counties in the coming week.
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