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Huntsman joins backers of hiking the sales tax for transport projects

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 1 2006 9:44 a.m. MST

With the Ballpark TRAX station as his backdrop, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. on Tuesday joined a list of supporters for a quarter-cent sales-tax hike in Utah and Salt Lake counties.

The tax hike is being considered as part of Proposition 3 on the ballot in Salt Lake County and an Opinion Question on Utah County's ballot. The increase would fund commuter rail in Utah County, and some on a list of 33 projects in Salt Lake County.

Voters in Salt Lake County won't know what specific projects will receive the money until after the election. Municipal leaders say they want the tax hike to fund TRAX extensions and commuter rail.

Huntsman said Tuesday that he supports the propositions as a way to improve quality of life, assist the economy and reduce gridlock.

"TRAX today carries 50,000 people. It could be carrying 150,000 people," Huntsman said during a media event Tuesday. "We could see 50 million riders each year, if this is done right. We could see an airport line."

The governor's support came on the morning that campaign finance disclosures were due for candidates, and Political Issue and Political Action Committees.

As of Tuesday, the 2015 Transportation Alliance, a business-led group operated under the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, had raised $523,822 for a campaign supporting Proposition 3 and the Opinion Question. The group has spent $519,077, according to disclosure forms.

Of the money spent, most has been on radio and television advertisements, lawn signs and campaign support from the Exoro Group, a political consulting firm. The money raised has come primarily from out of state contractors and engineering firms.

Local companies that donated big dollars include the Kennecott Land Co., which is developing the Daybreak community in South Jordan. Daybreak will be served by the Mid-Jordan TRAX extension.

Kennecott donated about $18,000. Ivory Homes donated $10,000, while the Boyer Co., which built The Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City, donated $10,000. The Gateway is also served by TRAX.

In addition, Zion Management Services donated $10,000. Scott Anderson, president of Zions Bank, is the co-chairman of the 2015 Alliance.

No opposition group filed a campaign finance report, and none have been identified to date. Some residents, however, have expressed worries about Proposition 3 and the Opinion Question.

Dan Canfield, a Riverton resident, said Tuesday that he was concerned that he didn't know exactly where the quarter-cent sales tax hike would go in Salt Lake County. Also, he said that he would rather have the money go to road projects, versus transit.

"I can't figure out why there's no organized opposition," he said. "If you spent this money on roads, you'd help more people in a week than among the new TRAX lines."

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.


E-mail: nwarburton@desnews.com

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