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Orem OKs tax for arts, recreation

OREM — An ordinance approving a tax hike in Orem is now on the books.

In an unanimous decision Tuesday night, the Orem City Council approved the Cultural Arts and Recreation Enrichment Tax — also known as the CARE or RAP tax.

The tax, approved by voters on Nov. 8, will provide revenues from a 1/10 of one percent increase in the local-option portion of the sales tax for use by cultural arts and recreation groups in the city.

Based on current sales tax revenue, the tax is expected to generate about $1.6 million a year for the eight years the tax will be in place. Continuation of the tax past that time would require approval from voters.

With the City Council's approval, minus Stephen Sandstrom who was absent, the next step is sending a letter to the Utah State Tax Commission. The commission then has 90 days to review the tax increase and notify businesses in the area about the change. Then, come April 2006, the tax will take effect.

This is the last official step toward getting the tax in place, but the City Council does have other issues to consider in the future.

"This ordinance does not provide for the distribution of Cultural Arts and Recreation Tax revenues. The Orem City Council will determine the manner of distributing these revenues in a separate ordinance at a later date," according to the wording of the ordinance.

Although the tax faced public opposition from the Utah Tax Payers Association and a few vocal citizens, Councilman Les Campbell said he hasn't heard any negative feedback about the passage of the tax.

In other business, the City Council also approved an addendum to the Waste Management Agreement Tuesday night, allowing green waste pickup for 2006.

Starting in March, Orem residents can subscribe for $5 a month, or $45 a season, for weekly pickup of their grass, leaves and small shrub clippings.

Residents who sign up will remain on the plan from March to November but can choose to drop their subscription at the end of the season.

The city will provide a green and yellow plastic upright trash container for those who subscribe to the environmentally friendly option. The city hopes to save up to $36,000 a year on its waste disposal costs.

Currently, the city is paying $32.60 per ton to dispose of green waste from the trash. However, with a separate can, the city will pay only $8.40 a ton to have the biodegradeable waste ground into mulch at the North Pointe Transfer Station.

Richard Manning, assistant city manager, presented the plan, which received unanimous approval from the council.

Orem currently has 25 percent participation in its curb-side recycling program, and Manning predicted about 15 percent participation for the first three years for the green waste program.