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Duchesne campaigns for sales tax increase

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Duchesne County commissioners will launch an education campaign to inform voters of a proposal to increase their sales tax. Income from the increase would be used for historical preservation and tourist services.

The proposal will appear on the November general election ballot. The tax is already in place in Uintah County as well as several other counties throughout the state.The issue would raise the current sales tax by one-tenth of one percent, or by one dime on every $100 purchase. The slight tax increase would boost county coffers by an estimated $100,000 to $120,000 annually. The increase in revenue would go directly to enhance recreational and cultural opportunities in the county.

"We're already paying the tax whenever we shop outside of Duchesne County," said County Commission Chairman Larry Ross. "It's time for the people of Duchesne County to put their history in a place we can see it and read about it. I really think this is an opportunity for us. The cost will be minimal."

The county has already formed a committee to study suitable sites for a historical museum and possible visitor's center.

The state law that allows counties to implement the one-tenth of a percent sales tax (upon voter approval) is very specific about how the money can be spent. Seventy percent of the new revenue must be earmarked for zoological, botanical or cultural spending; up to 30 percent may be used for recreational purposes.

The revenue could be used on approved programs as well as fa-cil-i-ties.

Duchesne County Area Chamber of Commerce Director Irene Hansen said there is a definite need as well as a desire to locate a visitor center and museum somewhere in the county.

Visitors to the Northeastern Visitor Center in Vernal snapped up 5,000 brochures featuring Duch-esne County within just a few weeks when the summer travel sea-son began.

"One-hundred thousand (dollars) to $120,000 annually filtered into recreation and cultural programs will have a tremendous impact on this county," Hansen said.

The Roosevelt City Council has gone on record in support of the proposed sales tax increase.

Last November, county voters rejected the proposed tax increase by a two-to-one margin. Ross said he believes the measure failed because voters were not adequately informed about the benefits the county would reap from the minimal tax increase.

This time around, Ross said officials will more aggressively work to educate voters on the proposed tax increase through the media, as well as by discussing it at community events such as the county fair. Voters also may receive an informational pamphlet answering some of the most-asked questions regarding the tax.

"Our intent is to have all the people in Duchesne County aware of it and what the cost will be," Hansen said.