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Kane County Commission holds town hall meeting to discuss TRT money and East Zion Visitor Center

The Kane County Commission held a Town Hall Meeting at Kanab Center at 6:00 PM on February 8th, 2022. The agenda included Information on Transient Room Tax (TRT), with a presentation by Camille Taylor; Information on Local and Special Service Districts, led by Commissioner Wade Heaton; and Local Service District’s request to expand service capabilities, led by Commissioner Chamberlain.

Commissioner Chamberlain noted at the outset that “this is not a required meeting, this is not a public hearing,” going on to say that “this is a meeting that the commissioners want to have to get input, to share information. We’ve had a few of these recently, and it seems like the public is a little bit starved to have a voice, and we feel like there’s some value in these kinds of meetings.”

After further introductory comments, the meeting opened to the agenda. Camille Taylor’s presentation consisted of a video on Transient Room Tax or TRT. In Kane County, TRT is defined as a hotel tax or lodging tax that can be charged to travelers when they rent accommodations in a hotel, inn, tourist home or house, motel, or other lodging, for a period of less than 30 consecutive days. Ms. Taylor outlined recent trends in revenue from the tax and took questions from the public in attendance, including a request for a copy of the video she shared.

Commissioner Heaton opened his agenda topic by commenting that “I have a vision for the role of county government that may be different than some people. I view county government as kind of a basic form of government providing law enforcement and courts,” going on to say, “but when you get into services like trash collection, street sweeping, fire, and EMS, those are municipal-type services, and municipalities are the ones who should be providing those services.” The services “bridge” for those who live outside incorporated areas of the county is a Special Services District (SSD) or a Local Services District (LSD), generally defined as independent, special-purpose governmental units that exist separately from local governments, with substantial administrative and fiscal independence. “There are almost a dozen in the county that provide fire service, snow removal, trash collection, you name it,” said Heaton. County Attorney Rob Van Dyke provided additional details about the features and functions of special districts. Further discussion included questions and comments from the public in attendance.

The third agenda item concerned the Zion Mountain Local Service District’s request to take over building the East Zion Visitor Center. The Commissioner Chamberlain noted that ZMLSD’s board “is an elected board. The county commission appointed the first three members, but from there on out they’ve elected their own members from landowners within the property.” At issue is whether the district or the county will build the visitor center. The district has the legal authority to undertake the project on their own. If they do, it will not affect county residents’ taxes and revenue for the project will be generated from within the district. The county has taken no action in response to the district’s request, though it may be on the agenda for the next commission meeting. The district has collected a petition stating that if the county does not take on the project the district will, acknowledging that they will be financially responsible for the project. Over 90% of the landowners in the district have signed the petition. Commissioner Chamberlain noted again that residents of the district have the legal right to build a visitor’s center in the district. The commission wants “everyone to be informed,” but “it’s a decision they (the district) can make themselves.” Comments from the public, including two letters from landowners in the district read by local resident Jim Rushton, touched on a variety of questions about the topic.

The commission released a brief statement on social media following the town hall, shared below:

The Kane County Commission held a Town Hall meeting regarding the state of tourism in the county and specifically the request from the Zion Mountain Local Service District to take over the project for building the East Zion visitor center. The meeting was well attended, informative, and interesting. County officials were able to talk openly and answer questions about tourism, local districts, and the visitor center project. There were many diverse and strong opinions expressed about a broad range of issues facing the county.

Interestingly, many in attendance expressed their opinion that a visitor center should be built in the East Zion area and the county should keep the project instead of turning it over to the Zion Mountain Local Service District.

The Kane County Commission would like more input on this decision. Please email your thoughts, questions, or concerns to the following emails:

For those that were unable to attend there will also be another Town Hall meeting held at the North Event Center on February 15th. Please look for additional notices for this meeting on social media and other sources.

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