In addition to the usual congressional and legislative races that will be decided in the general election this November, Salt Lake County voters will also weigh in on whether to continue the Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) program. SLCO Mayor Ben McAdams (Democrat) will unveil the ballot proposal Tuesday afternoon at a press conference with members of the County Council.
The ZAP program allocates funds to zoological, arts and culture, parks, and recreational organizations and facilities throughout the county. Over 160 organizations, as well as 30+ park and recreational facilities, receive grants from the program—including Hogle Zoo, the Utah Symphony and Opera, Red Butte Garden, Living Planet Aquarium, and the Utah Arts Festival.
Approved by 57.8% of voters in 1996 and begun in 1997, the county began collecting one additional penny on every $10 spent in Salt Lake County. ZAP was then overwhelmingly renewed in 2004, with a whopping 71.3% of the vote.
Because the program is tied to sales tax, the amount brought in by the County is directly reflective of the economy at large, so in recent years the fund has dropped in size. But with the economic recovery continuing, 2013 saw a return to near-peak levels with $13.2 million in ZAP funds distributed across Salt Lake County. The all-time high was in 2007, just before the recession hit, with $14.7 million.
“Arts, culture, parks, and recreation are cornerstones of the quality of life we enjoy as residents of Salt Lake County,” said Mayor McAdams in a press release. “ZAP is really all about you and your support for reinvesting a fraction of local sales tax right back into the local groups that entertain, inspire, and invigorate our families. It’s up to our citizens to let us know if that’s something they want to continue for another decade.”
The program divides funding along three main tiers. Tier I recipients must demonstrate that they improve access and appreciation of the arts in fields such as art education, the humanities, performance art, visual arts, or natural history. Tier II is specifically designed to protect Utah’s cultural heritage, while the third tier, unsurprisingly, focuses on zoological related endeavors.
More information about the ZAP tax can be found at ZAPisYou.org