Davis County tourism board talks 2011 budget

Feb 24 2011 - 7:31pm

CENTERVILLE -- Most of the $4.2 million generated yearly in Davis County tourism tax revenues has been committed already to one project or another.

But there is about $100,000 available beginning this calendar year, excluding the $2 million set aside in reserves, that the Davis County Tourism Advisory Board can begin to invest in tourism-promoting projects, Davis County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings said.

Rawlings shared that news Thursday with the board at its monthly luncheon meeting. This month's meeting was held at the CenterPoint Legacy Theatre in Centerville.

The TTAB group, consisting of area leaders, recommends to the Davis County Commission how the tourism tax revenues are to be spent.

The county's tourism tax revenues are generated from the hotel, restaurant and car rental tax.

Rawlings said the $100,000 is available to the tourism tax advisory board because of a recent shift in the economy.

"It says to us it has turned the corner and is on the uphill swing," Rawlings said of the three-year projections showing growth in the tourism tax revenue.

In 2009, the tax generated $4.18 million based on county budget figures.

Rawlings projects that figure will reach $4.5 million in 2012.

TTAB member Craig Shiner said he is concerned what will happen to those projections should the Legislature remove from the tourism tax revenue equation those dollars generated from the restaurant tax.

In past sessions, lawmakers have discussed removing the restaurant tax in an effort to be fair to those businesses.

But this year, Rawlings said, that issue has not been raised by lawmakers because it has been found that the best way to capture tourist dollars is to charge the tax at restaurants.

An estimated 37 percent of the state's restaurant tax revenue is generated by tourists, he said.

Should the restaurant tax be removed from the tourism tax formula, the state has spoken of replacement funds being provided to counties that would ensure they are able to meet their debt obligation to those projects to which they have committed tourism funding, Rawlings said.

Projects to which the county has committed tourism tax revenues include the Davis Conference Center in Layton, the ice sheet inside the South Davis Recreation Center in Bountiful, and the Legacy Events Center in west Farmington, the home of the Davis County Fair.

Two years ago, the TTAB group also approved providing $2 million to the Davis Performing Arts Center in Centerville.

The performing arts center is home to the Legacy CenterPoint Theatre.

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