Country Explosion will have to wait to find out if it will get $460,000 in local tourism funds for a concert in 2015.
The Tooele County Commission approved $103,500 of tourism fund grants at their Tuesday night meeting, but their vote didn’t include money for Country Explosion.
The decision on the concert promoter’s $460,000 request, along with a request from Miller Motorsports Park, were tabled until an undetermined future commission meeting.
“I want some time to mull over Country Explosion’s request and talk to the interested parties,” said Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne.
The Tooele County Tourism Advisory Board reviewed a total of $824,735 of grant requests, and looked for projects that will promote tourism in the county, according to John Cluff, tourism advisory board chairman.
But the board made no decision on Country Explosion or MMP’s requests. Cluff said the advisory board was split on Country Explosion.
“So we leave that up to you to decide,” he told the commissioners.
While Country Explosion is seeking funds for its 2015 concert, it still has bills with the county for the 2014 concert that are unpaid, county officials said.
Tooele County is waiting payment of $36,800 for sheriff’s office and dispatch services for 2014 from Country Explosion.
The county is also expecting to recover $53,000 from Country Explosion’s insurance company for damage to the baseball field at Deseret Peak Complex.
And the commissioners approved at Tuesday night’s meeting a $103,000 payment to Staker Parsons Companies for work on the additional parking lot south of SR-112 from Deseret Peak. County officials claim that Country Explosion was supposed to pay the bill, but didn’t.
Some audience members at Tuesday’s meeting were perplexed at Country Explosion’s request for more tourism funds from the county.
“I know you need to vote on it,” said Mike Garrard. “But I don’t get why we are even considering the possibility of giving money to this company.”
Danny Marz also questioned the need to take a lengthy look at giving money to Country Explosion.
“There are other companies that would come in and do this [put on a concert] and pay their bills,” Marz said, “I don’t know why we are even talking to these guys.”
The county commission gave Country Explosion $400,000 earlier this year to help market the 2014 four-day concert that was held in July.
Allocations of tourism tax funds recommended by the advisory board and approved by the county commission for this year included: $60,000 to the Tooele County Parks and Recreation Department for trail and campsite improvements; $10,000 to the Pioneer Museum Complex; $10,000 for the Tooele County Fair; $7,500 for Historic Wendover Airfield; $5,000 for the Daughters of Utah Pioneers; $5,000 for the Iosepa Historical Association; $3,000 for the Benson Gristmill Performing Arts Foundation; $2,000 for the Festival of the Old West; and $1,000 for the Grantsville Rodeo Team.
A $45,000 grant request from the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce for printing brochures to be used to promote tourism was put on hold, pending further details of the chamber’s plans, according to Cluff.
The county commission also tabled a decision on a grant request from Miller Motorsports Park.
“Miller Motorsports Park asked for $100,000,” said Cluff, “They already asked for $100,000 earlier and we gave them $50,000. We told them that was all they were going to get.”
The money allocated Tuesday night was from 2013 tourism tax revenue. The money was not distributed in 2013 because of the county’s financial troubles, Cluff said.
In May the county commission approved recommendations from the advisory board for $182,753 in allocations of 2014 tourism tax revenue.
The tourism tax fund receives revenue from a 1.0 percent tax on food purchased in restaurants and a 3.5 percent tax on lodging in motels and hotels.
In 2014, the county budget anticipates a collection of $300,000 in transient room taxes and $455,000 in restaurant taxes for a combined total of $755,000.
In addition to the advisory board grants, other expenses included in the 2014 TRT fund budget were $400,000 for 2014 Country Explosion; $192,000 in special projects to be approved by the county commission; $125,000 for the county fair; and $130,000 towards principal for the bond that paid for the convention center at Deseret Peak Complex.