This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
When it comes to arts and recreation, a little goes a long way. That is the guiding principle behind Salt Lake County's Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) tax.
The one-tenth of one percent sales tax, which has been around for almost 20 years, is a tax even Republicans love because of its multiplier effect. For organizations big and small, it's a steady stream of income that, in addition to helping pay the bills, gives them credibility to go out and raise more money from private and government sources. For parks officials, that steady income goes to pay bond debt to build recreation centers and other facilities throughout the valley. Much of the Jordan River trail has been completed with ZAP funds.
Last year, ZAP distributed more than $13 million. The bulk goes to the county's premier arts organizations, but $1.7 million went to more than 130 small groups to literally keep them alive.
It's an artistically and culturally diverse list that includes Fiesta Mexicana, Utah Brazilian Festival, the Chinese Society of Utah, the Nijon Matsuri Festival, among many others. Last year ZAP sent $2,527 to the Telugu Association of Utah, which is dedicated to the Telugu culture of southern India. (Telugu is the third most widely spoken language in India. Duh.)
Closer to home, recipients include the Saltaires Chorus, the Saltgrass Printmakers and the Salty Cricket Composers Collective. Too much salt? How about Meat & Potato Theatre, Inc., recipients of $4,970 from ZAP last year.
The biggest single recipient of ZAP money is Hogle Zoo, which received more than $2.3 million last year, but the birds (Tracy Aviary) and the fish (Living Planet Aquarium) also benefit.
For the big players like Utah Symphony and Opera and Ballet West, ZAP money pays for these groups to perform in county schools. For many children it is their first exposure to classical music and dance, and it can inspire a lasting relationship with the arts.
Created under a law from the Utah Legislature, ZAP requires the public's approval every 10 years to keep operating. First approved in 1994, this year marks the second time Salt Lake County voters can decide whether ZAP continues. The Salt Lake County Council took the first step by unanimously voting to put ZAP on the ballot for approval.
Voters absolutely should approve ZAP's reauthorization. For the mere price of a penny on a $10 purchase, they can get a lifetime of enrichment.