Figures from the Utah State Tax Commission estimate that the new sales tax would have generated an estimated $250,000 in 2008.
Commissioner Bruce Adams said that the funds can be used to build convention-type facilities that would welcome people visiting the area
San Juan County is one of three counties in Utah that had not yet implemented the tax. Commissioner Lynn Stevens reported that he had discussed the issue with Commissioners from other counties in the state that levy the tax.
Stevens said that many counties have found that more than half of the TRCC tax revenues come from restaurant patrons are not local residents.
Stevens said that out-of-area diners account for 57 percent of Washington County TRCC revenues, 65 percent of Davis County revenues, 70 percent of Uintah County revenues and 70 percent of Kane County revenues.
San Juan County Economic Development Director Charlie DeLorme said that use of the funds will be determined by an advisory board that will include representation from the restaurant community.
DeLorme said that the advisory board will be similar to the board that recommends use of the Transient Room Tax (TRT). The TRT board will be modified to include representation from restaurant owners.
“Those who are collecting the funds will have input in how the funds are spent,” said DeLorme, who added, “The restaurant owners want to see a return on their investment.”
County Clerk Norman Johnson suggested that the funds be administered separately from the TRT funds. He added that no funds should be used until a specific project is ready to go forward.
Motel owner Scott Pehrson expressed concern about another tax, stating, “There is no reason to gouge people that travel through our area when we rely on them.”
Business owner John Black stated that new facilities also come with maintenance expenses and encouraged the Commission to consider both construction expenses and on-going maintenance costs before approving a project.
The motion passed unanimously.
In other tourism news, DeLorme reports that local lodging establishments have lost up to 1,000 room nights because of the volcanic eruptions in Iceland.
DeLorme said that much of the European-based tourism industry in the Southwest was shut down for more than a week. Air space has reopened, but the impacts will linger for another week to ten days.