Salt Lake County drew a step closer to receiving state and city subsidies of its operations at the Salt Palace and other arts facilities when County Commission Chairman Bart Barker Wednesday signed an agreement between the three government entities.

Barker's signature was added to that of Gov. Norm Bangerter on the document, which was sent to Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis for the final signature that will put the agreement into immediate effect.The agreement is the result of 18 months of work that began when county commissioners requested that the city and state - because they share in tax revenues generated by the Salt Palace, the Arts Center, the Capitol Theatre and Symphony Hall - help subsidize operations at those county owned and operated arts facilities.

The county has budgeted almost $1 million this year to subsidize the operations of the Salt Palace, which derives most of its $4.7 million operating budget from self-generated revenues.

Under the agreement, the city, the state and the county will each contribute one-third of the total annual subsidy for the facilities, not to exceed $425,000 yearly. For the first year of the pact, each will contribute $325,000.

Barker said county commissioners decided to approve the agreement despite some problems with the text.

"We drafted the agreement last fall. Negotiations were suspended pending legislative approval of the state's portion of the funding. Through an error, the Legislature adopted the draft as the final agreement, and that presents some problems," Barker said.

While most of the problems are minor, some major policy issues were not resolved. Language is not clear on the county's reimbursement of operating costs by the other entities.

The precise role of a nine-member board for the arts facilities also may not be clear, Barker said. In early drafts the board was given policy-making authority, but in a later compromise that was reduced to an advisory capacity.

"We feel it's in the best interests of the county to sign the agreement as it is," he said. "The other parties have assured us of their best-faith interests to resolve the concerns that exist."

Each subsidizing government entity will appoint three members to the board. The current Salt Palace and Fine Arts Advisory Board will be dissolved when the new board is constituted.

Because Senate approval of the state appointees to the board is required - and the Senate isn't likely to meet before next month - the new board probably will not be formed until July or August.

The county has appointed Dick Galbraith, current chairman of the Salt Palace and Fine Arts Advisory Board; Bill Gibbs, a former chairman of the Salt Palace board; and Truman Clawson, of the Salt Lake Visitors and Convention Bureau, as its representatives on the new board.

The city and state have not announced their appointments.