The Tooele County Commission on June 21 awarded the final round of 2016 tourism tax money to three local projects.
At the recommendation of John Cluff, chairman of the Tooele County Tourism Tax Advisory Board, the commissioners approved $20,000 to Transcript Bulletin Publishing, $7,500 for the demolition derby during the Tooele County Fair, and $700 to the Utah Museum of Fire Service History and Firefighter Memorial.
The grant to the publishing company is for printing an additional 10,000 copies of the new Tooele County Magazine and distributing copies statewide to visitor centers and other locations to promote the county.
Transcript Bulletin Publishing will also provide an interim design update to www.exploretooele.com, the county’s tourism website. The website was originally designed, programmed and launched by the publishing company in 2009. The grant also included two full-page, county-related tourism advertisements in Tooele County Magazine.
The grant for the demolition derby at the Tooele County Fair next month is for advertising the event to further attract out-of-county visitors. Cluff advised the commissioners to grant the original $6,000 request, and Commissioner Myron Bateman recommended an additional $1,500 be included to further boost the advertising campaign.
Commissioner Shawn Milne stressed that the grant is only for the demolition derby at next month’s Tooele County Fair, and for clarification, the funding is not for the demolition derby that occurred on June 25.
The grant for the Utah Museum of Fire Service History and Firefighter Memorial is for reprinting the facility’s promotional brochure. Cluff said the museum needs the brochure while the county spends the rest of the year developing a tourism promotion campaign and tourism branding guidelines for the county.
Cluff told the commissioners the tourism tax board recommended that funding not be granted for a request by Tooele County Facilities Management to create a website for the Tooele County Fair, Deseret Peak Complex and Benson Gristmill. Instead, the board recommended that the fair, Deseret Peak and gristmill be included in the www.exploretooele.com update.
The commissioners agreed with that recommendation.
Cluff noted the final four requests had been under review by the board since February, with several meetings and inquiries conducted before reaching a final decision. Since February, the board and county commission have reviewed and awarded more than $350,000 in tourism funds to numerous local projects that are geared toward tourism.
The tourism tax fund receives revenue from a 1-percent tax on food purchased in restaurants and a 3.5-percent tax on lodging in motels and hotels. State law requires that tourism tax dollars be used to promote tourism or to maintain and operate tourism-related facilities.
The Tourism Tax Advisory Board consists of representatives of motels, restaurants and tourism attractions in the county. Its composition is specified under state law, which requires the board advise the county commission on how tourism tax dollars are spent each year.
The approved 2016 county budget included the anticipated collection of $204,000 in motel and hotel tourism taxes and $296,000 in restaurant taxes, for a combined total of $500,000.
Along with the grants, in 2016 the tourism fund will also be used to pay $147,000 toward the bond that paid for the convention center at Deseret Peak Complex and $100,000 for consultants that are completing a tourism resource survey and a marketing strategy to increase tourism in the county.