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AM News Brief: Eyeing A Carbon Tax, Vail Resorts Revenue Down & Utah Tourism Campaign Gets A Boost

Photo of a ski lift on a snowy mountain
Wikimedia Commons
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Business at Vail Resorts’ North American properties plunged between the start of the ski season and Jan. 3. The latest Utah news from.

Wednesday morning, January 20, 2021

State

Federal Money Targeted At Bolstering Utah Tourism Economy

The Governor's Office of Economic Development is getting another $1 million in Federal CARES Act funding. The money will be used to support Utah's “Stay Safe To Stay Open” campaign, part of the state's response to counter the negative economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Tourism and hospitality businesses have been especially hard hit. The Economic Development Administration announced the grant Tuesday and said the funding will be shared among seven Utah economic development districts. The EDA grant will be matched with $250 thousand in local public and private funds. Utah officials said it's expected to create 256 jobs. — Bob Nelson

COVID Risks Outweigh Potential Vaccine Risks

Medical experts from University of Utah Health say people 70 and older should get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Emily Spivak is with the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University hospital. She recognized that some people might be worried about side effects from the vaccine, but said those are rare and easily treatable. “Many of our patients and populations are more likely to get covid and potentially have a severe bad outcome from it than they are to have a severe side effect from the vaccine,” she explained. People should check with their local health departments about making an appointment. As of Tuesday, 172,603 vaccines have been administered in Utah. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City Lifts Police Hiring Freeze

Despite renewed calls to “defund the police,” the Salt Lake City Council voted Tuesday night to lift a hiring freeze on the city’s police department. The freeze was part of the council’s response to widespread calls for police reform following last summer’s protests against racial injustice, as well as budget uncertainty caused by the pandemic. SLCPD officers are leaving in “unprecedented numbers” as the department is also getting more calls for service, according to a police report submitted to the council last week. But many residents in a public comment period voiced concerns that police aren’t properly trained to deal with social issues they often confront, such as homelessness and mental health problems. Council members said they agreed with those concerns, but couldn’t ignore the city’s mandate to provide a police force. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Region/Nation

Vail Resorts’ Revenue Suffers

Business at Vail Resorts’ North American properties plunged between the start of the ski season and Jan. 3. According to a company report released last week, skier visits fell more than 16% compared to last year. Revenue from ski school was half of what it was last year, and revenue declines for dining were even steeper — down more than 60%. In the report, CEO Rob Katz blames the declines on COVID-19 restrictions and below average snowfall in areas including Utah, where Vail Resorts owns Park City Mountain Resort. — Sarah Mulholland, Colorado Public Radio

Impact Of Potential Carbon Tax

Janet Yellen is President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to be treasury secretary. She’s been a big proponent of a carbon tax, a federal tax based on the amount of carbon emissions that went into making a product. An analyst from the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington D.C., said this could hurt the Mountain West’s fossil fuel industry and also raise prices for consumers — at least in the short term. But advocates of the tax say mitigating climate change is a priority. – Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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