SLC Council Approves Controversial $28 Million Tax Plan for Inland Port Area

Aug 27, 2019, 8:22 PM | Updated: 8:28 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to approve a property tax agreement worth up to $28 million with a developer that will build warehouses near the planned Inland Port.

The approval came after council members listened to more than an hour of public outcry.

“It was important to us to keep that seat at the table,” said councilmember Amy Fowler. “This agreement was one of those ways that we gained, at least or kept, some control over what happens out there.”

City leaders said they had no choice but to approve the development agreement with NWQ, LLC, which authorizes the property tax increment reimbursement of up to $28 million over 20 years.

The City will not write a $28 million check,” said a joint statement from the city council and Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “Tax increment financing simply allows public infrastructure to be paid for over time by those who benefit from it, using funds generated from the growth in property tax paid by this specific property.”

The project area focuses on 378 acres of land in the city’s northwest quadrant. The initial plans call for about 10 buildings that would house approximately six million square feet of manufacturing space, according to the city.

“I’m extremely disappointed by the action that the city council just made,” said Salt Lake City resident Deeda Seed. “I think they’re making a huge mistake. We have no understanding of the environmental harm that this six million square feet of new warehouse space will cause.”

In January 2018, Biskupski signed contracts with the property owners, guaranteeing development rights. The city said the process fully complied with legal obligations to post notices and hold public meetings.

Council members warned that not moving forward with the agreement could put the city in breach of contract and open the door for a lawsuit. It could also give state leaders reason to take control of the land under the Utah Inland Port Authority.

“Had the city not approved the development agreement with NWQ, LLC, the city would have no say in how the property could be used,” the joint statement said. “The land is privately held and development cannot be halted, but at least now it must comply with city zoning restrictions.”

The joint statement also said the agreement includes environmental safeguards to protect wetlands and bird populations in the area.

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SLC Council Approves Controversial $28 Million Tax Plan for Inland Port Area