The question of when and how to operate the fountain at Symphony Hall in a way that will please downtown businesses while cutting operation costs may have been answered.

Salt Lake County's Fine Arts Board is recommending an automatic speed regulator be installed to control the fountain's flow on a preset schedule, cutting power costs from $30,000 to about $16,000 annually.The fountain's operation became an issue last winter when downtown businesses began complaining because the fountain - built with a donation from Utah philanthropist O.C. Tanner - was shut down.

While the fountain is normally drained during cold weather, the businesses discovered a reduction in the fountain's warm-weather operation also was being considered to cut costs.

The businesses organized a letter-writing campaign praising the fountain as a welcome asset to the area and asking county commissioners to continue funding its operation.

Some businesses offered cash contributions to help offset the county's costs of fountain operation.

Board members said they may yet accept those offers. The $15,000 regulator is expected to pay for itself through power-bill savings in about a year.