A legislative proposal to establish a Utah Lake Authority, which would oversee development of Utah Lake's economic potential, has received a cold welcome from the Utah County League of Women Voters.
State Sen. Lorin Pace, R-Salt Lake, is sponsoring the legislation, which has a price tag of nearly $1.1 million. The authority, if approved, would oversee the establishment and coordination of programs to develop land around Utah Lake.Pace recently told members of the Utah County Council of Governments that proper development around the lake over the next 22 years could add $4 billion to the valuation of state lands.
The local Utah Lake Study Committee and the state's Utah Lake Advisory Committee are expected to support establishment of a lake authority. The bill is in the Rules Committee.
"I think it's a monster," Lillian Hayes told League of Women Voters members Tuesday. "We should work hard to defeat it."
Hayes, chairwoman of the league's natural resources committee, said she fears the lake's economic potential will blind officials to environmental concerns. If approved, she said, the authority would be under the jurisdiction of the state's Community and Economic Development Division rather than the Division of State Lands and Forestry.
"There are a lot of problems with this bill," Hayes said. The public doesn't need another government entity, especially one with power of eminent domain, she said.
To fund development, Pace proposes tax-increment financing, in which taxes to the county, school districts and other government entities would be frozen at current levels so that taxes from increased valuation of developed property could go toward retiring bonds sold to fund development. Taxes from increased valuation would revert to government entities once the bonds are retired.
Hayes said development is not wise because of seismic zones and flood plains around the lake. In addition, she said, development could destroy wetlands and affect water quality.
In light of the league's national position on natural resources, she said, the league must oppose the bill. A top league priority is identification and regulation of "natural hazard lands."