Members of the Prison Relocation Commission (PRC) have been making false claims about the prison relocation study. The taxpayers have been told that the land in Draper is so valuable that the prison has to move. We've been told that the state will miss out on economic growth if we don’t move the prison. We've been told that the prison move will pay for itself in a few short years. All of these claims have been made based on the results of the prison relocation study. The problem is that the study cannot be used to support any of these claims.
The study clearly claims that the cost of new construction and maintenance at the current site would be at least $217 million cheaper than relocating the prison, even after selling the land to developers. This contradicts any claim that the land is so valuable that the prison must move.
The study estimates the economic growth for the state if the prison moves, but the study does not estimate the economic growth for the state if the prison stays in Draper. This omission from the study makes it impossible to use the study to support the claim that the state will miss out on economic growth if we don’t move the prison. The PRC is overlooking the fact that the economic activity that could occur on the Draper site will develop elsewhere if the state does not move the prison. If the prison stays in Draper, the homes, shops and office space that would go to Draper will choose instead to develop in growing communities like West Jordan, Lehi, Herriman, Riverton and Eagle Mountain.
The study estimates the projected tax revenues that the state and local governments will receive when the Draper site is fully developed. The study does not estimate what the projected tax revenues will be for the state and other local governments if the prison does not move. The west side communities that would receive the growth need the tax base more than Draper does. It doesn't seem right to use tax dollars from citizens across the state to help one city with a solid tax base get more development than growing cities with a weaker tax base.
The study claims tax revenues associated with the development to be $94.6 million per year. Lawmakers have claimed that the $94.6 million will pay back the prison move in a few short years. The study, however, does not make this claim. It arrived at the $94.6 million amount by adding all taxes associated with the site including fuel tax, sales tax, property tax and income tax. All of these taxes are collected for purposes of providing services for the new site. None of the taxes collected will go toward paying back taxpayers for the prison move.
We've been told the Draper land is desirable because it is near a freeway. The state could use the savings of leaving the prison in Draper to help finish the Mountain View Corridor. A completed Mountain View Corridor will open up tens of thousands of acres for development, while moving the prison only frees up 700 acres of development in Draper.
Don’t believe the hype that there exists an economic advantage to moving the prison. Moving the prison benefits Draper, but not the state as a whole. The PRC is touting a study that did not review enough aspects of the prison move to back claims made by the PRC. Please ask your lawmakers to pass a resolution to dissolve the PRC and leave the prison where it is.
Wade Hadlock lives in Stansbury Park, Tooele County. He is the contact sponsor leading the initiative to incorporate Stansbury Park as a city.