With only a month left in the legislative session, the board of governors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce still hasn't decided on its stand regarding taxes.
Because the board doesn't meet again until Feb. 14, a few days before the legislators finish their work, some of the tax bills may have already passed.Two weeks ago, the board voted in favor of a sales tax exemption for ski resorts provided they used the money for snow making and slope grooming equipment. The theory is that if the ski season were longer, more tourist revenues would result.
The vote came only after considerable debate and a recommendation the board form a task force to study the issue to determine the chamber's position on tax legislation.
At Tuesday's meeting, the issue of sales tax exemptions came up again when board members were asked to take a position on SB110, a bill that would eliminate the sales tax exemptions for steel mills, government-owned aerospace tooling/equipment and certain manufacturers.
After considerable discussion, the board voted 7-6 to table the issue until the Feb. 14 meeting.
David Bird, vice chairman of the chamber's Legislative Action Committee, said the committee opposes the bill that would eliminate exemptions to the above three types of businesses. He said opposing SB110 would be consistent with the board's action of favoring the ski resort sales tax exemption.
John Pingree, general manager of the Utah Transit Authority and a board member, said the board shouldn't take a position on SB110 until the board decides what its position is on all taxes this year.
In other action, the board voted to oppose HB208, a bill that would create a Great Salt Lake Development Authority with the authority to raise taxes to create Lake Wasatch out of the eastern half of the lake by a series of dikes between several islands.
Bird's committee voted to oppose the measure because an engineering feasibility study hasn't been completed, local government wouldn't get any of the revenue and it allows an unlimited tax.
Wm. James Mortimer, board chairman, said he and chamber president Fred S. Ball recently talked to Gov. Norm Bangerter, who indicated he also believes forming an authority at this time is premature. Mortimer said sometimes these massive proj-ects benefit developers with no thought given to the public good.
Other bills the board discussed and its recommendations were:
- Favor SB211, providing a statute of limitations on product liability.
- Favor SB69, making it a misdemeanor to steal cable TV services.
- Favor SB31, protecting business and industry from theft of trade secrets.
- Favor HB44 that sets a limit on the amount of money that can be transferred from the Transportation Fund for uses other than highway maintenance or construction.
- Oppose HB85, a bill that would exempt all government entities from paying utility franchise taxes.