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Carole Mikita ReportingProponents call it 'the popular tax', opponents simply the ZAP tax. First passed in 1996, the one-tenth of 1% has provided millions of dollars for Hogle Zoo, non-profit arts organizations, and Salt Lake County parks and recreation centers. It is up for renewal again this election year.
Hundreds of students spent an afternoon watching a play for their curriculum's required reading list. Each pays two dollars, schools are reimbursed for the buses. This program was funded by ZAP, the Zoo, Arts and Parks tax.
Darin Hathaway, Granite H.S. Theatre Teacher: "For most of my kids, they come from some pretty hard situations. So this may be the only chance that they get to see something like this."
Angie Atkinson, Brighton H.S. 11th Grader: "It gives kids something to do after school instead of doing nothing. And so, it keeps them out of trouble."
Jesse Hancock, Bingham H.S. 10th Grader: "It's a cool experience, cause not everyone has this chance."
The 15-million dollars a year ZAP provides has helped many arts organizations include thousands of children.
Chris Lino, Pioneer Theatre Company Managing Director: "The story that we have to tell about Pioneer Theatre Company, multiply that by 25 organizations that receive this funding throughout the county."
It also funds recreation programs, like this place on the west side. It is one of four fitness facilities built in the year 2000 with zap tax money. It now includes 1500 members from toddlers to senior citizens. While mothers are in an aerobics class, their children have a supervised play area.
Amy Clark, Fitness Member: "All the sports programs, the soccer, the karate that they offer to the community at lower prices than you can probably get somewhere else."
Patrick Menton, Gene Fullmer Fitness and Recreation Center, Program Coordinator: "When you look at the cost of the tax, one-tenth of a percent, it's really miniscule, when you look at what you get for that money."
The Utah Taxpayers Association opposes ZAP, saying the state already funds arts and recreation.
Mike Jerman, Utah Taxpayers Assoc. Vice-Pres.: "It's very hard to raise property taxes and hard to raise income taxes. And so, it's these very small what you call boutique sales tax increases to keep pushing us up the ladder on taxes."
Tooele, Davis and Weber Counties are now including a ZAP tax on their ballots this election year.