The Utah County Commission will likely impose a 1 percent restaurant tax whether or not voters approve a bond election Tuesday for a special events center in Utah Valley.
The outcome of Tuesday's special election proposal to bond for $7.7 million will determine the fate of an events center at Utah Valley Community College. But a vote against the center is not necessarily a vote against the tax."Regardless of the vote, you'll probably see the restaurant tax go into effect," said Commissioner Malcolm Beck at a news conference at UVCC Monday.
The meeting was held to brief Gov. Norm Bangerter on the proposed project. Bangerter reaffirmed his support for the events center.
The 1991 Legislature empowered counties to levy the 1 percent tax on prepared foods sold in counties to collect money for tourism and for recreational, cultural and convention facilities. Counties may begin assessing the tax July 1.
Casting a ballot Tuesday gives citizens the opportunity to decide how the restaurant tax revenue is used.
The county estimates the tax would generate about $700,000 a year. Commissioners said the events center debt payment would not consume the entire sum, leaving money for other activities. In addition, officials expect the revenue to increase as the county grows.
Local mayors have already approached the commission with projects in mind should voters turn down the bond proposal. Commissioners would then work from a list of potential projects to decide the best use of the money.
"I don't think we'll impose that tax without determining where it's going," said Commissioner Gary Herbert. The county fair has been mentioned several times as one possible recipient of some cash.
A voter-approved bond would settle the question of how to immediately use the money.
UVCC would take the $7.7 million and combine with $10 million from the state to construct an events center containing physical education facilities. The college intends to build a physical education building regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's election.
Herbert said he's "cautiously optimistic" about the bond being approved.
Others, like Sen. C.E. "Chuck" Peterson, R-Provo, are "a little worried" about the election. "I think it's going to be a tough fight," he said.
"There's always naysayers among us. There are people that say you shouldn't do that," Bangerter said.
But the events center would provide educational, economic and lifestyle opportunities to the county, he said.