Utah Capitol January 2019

Bill proposes expansion of inland port authority sponsored by appointee to board

This article originally appeared on KUTV 2. Read it in its entirety here.

SALT LAKE CITY — (KUTV) — A new Utah House bill proposes expansion of the powers of the newly formed port authority, sponsored by the lawmaker appointed to the Inland Port Authority Board by Gov. Gary Herbert.

Rep. Francis D. Gibson, a Republican in District 65 in Mapleton, is the chief sponsor of the bill that among other changes:

  • Authorizes the Inland Port Authority to adopt a “project area plan” for an area outside its authority jurisdictional land
  • Expands the years from 25 to 40, that the authority takes 100 percent of the captured property taxes
  • Prohibits, according to the bill, “a political subdivision from challenging the creation, existence, funding, powers, project areas, or duties of the Utah Inland Port Authority and prohibits the use of public money for any challenge”
  • Modifies the use of authority funds
  • Bars an action to a project area or plan if not brought forward in a specified time
  • Modifies the amount of property tax differential the authority may use for operating expenses

Herbert previously said the global distribution hub will play a significant role in the Utah economy after SB234 bill was signed into law last year, against the wishes of Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski who objected to the way funds from the port would be shared with the city that contains it. She, and others, are also concerned over pollution the hub is expected to cause.

In July the city council signed off on the inland port that was passed at a special legislative session. The Salt Lake City Council agreed to the plan.

The port is expected to be built on 20,000 acres of land west of the Salt Lake City International Airport with a cost of approximately $250 million.

The bill, filed Wednesday to expand the powers of the Port Authority, was met with immediate criticism from government watchdog, the Alliance for a Better Utah, that said it made a bad process even worse.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Francis Gibson, who was appointed to the Inland Port Authority Board by Gov. Gary Herbert, after former House Speaker Greg Hughes resigned from the board. His voluntary resignation came on the heels of debate over his property holdings nearby the proposed trade hub in the outskirts of Salt Lake City.

“Rather than allowing the officials closest to the people continue the process of creating an inland port, lawmakers wrested control from Salt Lake City and granted authority to a board of unelected individuals who would act more favorably toward business and industry interest,” Chase Thomas Alliance for a Better Utah’s executive director said. “The surrounding community continues to be trampled over in the Legislature’s haste, robbing it of valuable revenue and limiting its ability to seek justice in court.”

This article originally appeared on KUTV 2. Read it in its entirety here.

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