SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to give an Inland Port developer $28 million in tax reimbursements.
However, many said they had their hands tied before the vote.
Several city council members said Tuesday’s vote is by far the hardest vote they’ve taken. The tax incentive was written into a signed contract.
Breaching that contract would take away the only power they have with the Inland Port discussions, said councilwoman Erin Mendenhall.
Before the vote, the majority of people at the meeting spoke against the development and the tax reimbursement.
Yet, hours of testimony didn’t change the minds of the Redevelopment Agency Board - made up of city council members.
Voting against the tax reimbursement would have breached the contract with NWQ, which is investing $310 million in the project. It would involve roughly ten manufacturing buildings.
“We have to do what is right for the city,” chairperson Amy Fowler said.
Had they voted against the tax reimbursement, the board put any control the city has of the inland port in jeopardy.
“This agreement was one of those ways we gained at least some or kept some control over what happens out there. Some control that actually will protect our city, protect the natural environment,” Fowler said.
Critics blame the council of not listening to public outcry, including environmental concerns.
“This is an enormous handout for some already wealthy developers to become even wealthier. What it does for our community is create greater harm in terms of the air quality,” Center for Biological Diversity member Deeda Seed.
Opponents argue the development will increase traffic emissions, dirtying our air by more than 5,0000 extra car and truck trips along I-80.