CONSUMER

Lawmakers defend Sept. 1 contract deadline on downtown plans

May 22, 2024, 6:21 PM | Updated: 6:42 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The deal to raise Salt Lake City’s sales tax to help house the new NHL team and revitalize downtown is moving fast. Lawmakers are defending the timeline.

There is a Sept. 1 deadline for Smith Entertainment Group and Salt Lake City to finalize its “participation agreement” for what portion of a proposed .5% sales tax increase would pay for stadium renovations versus other areas of renovation within the approved downtown “revitalization zone.”

The deadline comes with a requirement from SB272 that sets up the plan and stipulations for the contract.

The bill stipulates that the money generated could be used to fund project construction or debt service of bonds used to pay for projects. Other permissible uses of the tax money would be for public safety or road improvements within the zone.

Rep. Jon Hawkins was one of the bill’s sponsors and is defending the seemingly quick timeline to have all the details sorted out.

Smith Entertainment Group Reveals Survey To Name Utah’s NHL Team

“We had a feeling that we would have a hockey team by next season,” Hawkins said. “Right. Which ended up being the case. And so we knew that we had to get that ball rolling as quickly as possible. So that’s why we put it into place for that deadline.”

One expert says branding a NHL team this fast is a monumental task

Hawkins also said Sept. 1 allows for a month before the Utah State Tax Commission needs to be notified of changes so they can begin collecting on the first day of 2025.

“We put Sept. 1st in place so that we could take a month to take a look at everything that they’re proposing and then put in to place and kind of get it approved by Oct. 1, which is 90 days before the end of the year.”

Hawkins said when the bill was being crafted, they knew how fast the team would need a place to play.

“It wasn’t any signal to really anybody about a hockey team per se. It was, ‘let’s get moving on revitalizing downtown,'” he said.

Some city residents at Tuesday’s city council meeting expressed the sentiment that the plan was moving too fast, with few official details released thus far.

“I am opposed to this added sales tax for a project that is not fully realized for the citizens. I have not seen more the broad picture,” said one resident.

A view of Japantown Street, with the Japanese Church of Christ in the foreground and the Delta Center behind it across 300 West. (KSL TV)

Hawkins also defended the fact that there have been no official renderings have been released yet by SEG.

“I think they’re taking their time working with the city and the county to put that together. I’m sure that they’re going to be transparent with the plan, but we need to give them some time to put it together,” he said.

Hawkins said he hopes people will understand that the sales tax that’s being raised impacts everyone who eats and shops in Salt Lake City as much as it does the residents who live there. And, that the decision to raise it is up to the city council to decide.

“I think that’s the biggest misperception, in my opinion out there that the state did this and the state’s just pushing this down on on the city,” he said.

Coalition of leaders support SEG plans

Meanwhile, over 30 stakeholders came out in support of revitalizing downtown plans Tuesday and praised the efforts of SEG to reimagine downtown.

“We are at a unique moment in time where leaders from across arts and culture, meetings and conventions, government, sports, entertainment, tourism and hospitality, and business are coming together with a shared commitment to reimagining downtown Salt Lake City and what it can mean for generations to come. This project is an unparalleled opportunity to leverage Salt Lake City’s reputation as an iconic cultural gathering place — fostering unity for all Utahns and visitors from across the world,” they said in a joint statement.

Smith Entertainment Group has set up a website to keep residents informed.

The full list of supporters includes:

  • Stuart Adams, president of the Utah Senate
  • Dee Brewer, executive director of the Downtown Alliance
  • Steve Brosvik, president & CEO of the Utah Symphony
  • Fraser Bullock, chair of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games
  • Michele Corigliano, executive director, Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association
  • Spencer J. Cox, governor of Utah
  • Kent Crawford, general mnager, KUTV 2 News
  • Kirk A. Cullimore, majority assistant whip, Utah Senate
  • Steve Daly, CEO, Instructure
  • Adam Edmunds, CEO, Entranta
  • Kaitlin Eskelson, president & CEO, Visit Salt Lake
  • Scott Evans, founder/owner, PAGO Group
  • Tony Finau, professional golfer
  • Tammy Gallegos, EVP and chief strategic engagement officer, America First Credit Union
  • Brian Greeff, chair global head, prime services operations, and co-chief operating officer, Goldman Sachs
  • Mark Hancock, executive vice chairman, PACS
  • Representative Jon Hawkins, Utah House of Representatives
  • Brett Hopkins, CEO, Ken Garff Automotive
  • Patrick Manning, managing partner, Black Desert
  • Sen. Dan McCay, Utah Senate representing District 18
  • Michele McKilip, SVP of corporate affairs & communications, Swire Coca-Cola
  • Erin Mendenhall, mayor of Salt Lake City
  • Derek Miller, president & CEO, Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance
  • Bill Moreton, president, Moreton & Company
  • Jason Murray, co-founder, CEO, and chairman, PACS
  • Nathan Rafferty, president & CEO, Ski Utah
  • Taylor Randall, president, University of Utah
  • Ryan Ritchie, owner, The Ritchie Group
  • Jeff Robbins, president & CEO, Utah Sports Commission
  • Todd Santiago, chief revenue officer, Vivint
  • Ryan Starks, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox’s Office
  • Jenny Wilson, mayor of Salt Lake County

There will be another chance for the public to weigh in on all the downtown plans. The city council has voted to hold another meeting for public comment; The exact date hasn’t been finalized.

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Lawmakers defend Sept. 1 contract deadline on downtown plans