After reading the Jan 19, 2023 article in the Sun News entitled, “Lyman says he will move to reverse TRT reform”, I concluded that a brief note may be helpful.
House bill 247 passed unanimously in 2021. The bill expanded County use of Transient Room Tax (TRT) money. I was a supporter of the bill in 2021 and I am a supporter still.
The goal of my proposed legislation is to ensure that legislation passed in 2021 accomplishes its stated purpose which was “focusing resources on infrastructure and public safety efforts related to the tourism economy.” The sponsor said, “We don’t have a promotional problem in Moab, we have an infrastructure issue.” So, when others became aware of the $1.1 million awarded to 35 local Moab businesses and nonprofits, they raised the question about whether those grants satisfied the legislative intent.
Whether the grant programs referenced in the article were done ethically or not is the subject of a current legislative audit. The audit will also review whether Grand County stepped outside their lane to influence policy in San Juan County. My bill will address the findings of the legislative audit as they relate to Transient Room Tax.
The Sun News wrote “Baird said that while meeting with Grand County officials, Lyman indicated that his plan to push for the repeal of TRT reform was a punitive action.” The other Moab Paper quoted me correctly writing “Lyman said his ‘heart is with the commissioners’ and that he doesn’t want the bill to ‘come across as punishment or punitive, because it’s not.’ He added that the legislation as currently drafted will propose expanding the part of HB247 that allows counties to hold on to more surplus TRT revenue year over year.”
My proposed bill would likely increase funding for the Sheriff and for essential services because it would put the county on notice that the “flexibility” granted in HB247 was in response to their plea for help in meeting basic needs, not granting wishes.
It may also be appropriate for the author of the article to disclose that she was a recipient of County STAR grant money herself.
Phil Lyman, Utah House of Representatives