Utah cities and towns are pleased this legislative season because the Utah Jazz will have a home, Salt Lake City won't lose $675,000, towns will get more road funds and municipalities will help pursue the 1998 Winter Olympics.
In a move praised by Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis and Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, the Legislature passed a bill allowing the Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency to help fund the purchase of land for a new Jazz Arena.The mechanism rolls back, or diverts, $1.8 million annually that this year would have gone to other local taxing districts, such as the Salt Lake City School district, and dedicates it to buying land for the Jazz.
The bill will also reimburse the district for any loss it suffers.
"The city sees this as one of the building blocks for a viable downtown and one of the key elements for the success of the various Salt Palace facilities," said Steve Allred, assistant city attorney and lobbyist.
Although DePaulis was pleased with the Jazz package, the mayor and some legislators were at odds over a bill that would have eliminated the city's 1 percent hotel room tax, gouging $675,000 from city coffers.
However, after a compromise fell through late Wednesday between the city and the Hotel-Motel Association, which backed the bill, the measure died in the House Rules Committee.
"We're pleased that our revenue base has been maintained," Allred said.
Rural Utah drivers can expect road conditions to improve this year because the legislature increased the amount of transportation money given to municipalities, Utah League of Cities and Towns lobbyist Dave Spatafore said.
After severely restricting the amount of funds diverted to cities and towns last year, the state will allocate $5.5 million more in road funds than it did to municipalities in 1988, he said.
The Utah Department of Transportation will also give $2.8 million to municipalities to improve access roads and other facilities in state parks.
"So roads are a big winner in this session," Spatafore said.
The Legislature also passed an Olympics funding mechanism dedicating a sixty-fourth of one percent of state- and city-collected sales tax toward the 1998 Winter Olympics, for which Salt Lake City is bidding.
"We're very pleased to be a part of the Olympics funding package," Spatafore said.