SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski will meet with Gov. Gary Herbert this week in hopes of negotiating better terms on a bill city leaders consider a massive state land grab of nearly 20,000 acres in the capital city's northwest quadrant.
The meeting is planned for Wednesday, according to Paul Murphy, the mayor's deputy director of communications.
Even though the governor has already said he intends to sign SB234 — a bill that would create a new board that would oversee the development of a global trade area or inland port in the city's last undeveloped swath of land — Biskupski is still pushing for a veto.
But if that hits a dead end, there might be another option for the city, the mayor said on KSL Newsradio's “The Doug Wright” show Monday.
"There are two routes we could take to make sure a partnership evolves," the mayor said.
Biskupski said she is advocating for a veto of the bill and then a special session to pass new legislation. However, the mayor also said better terms could also be negotiated through a "contract" with the state on the inland port.
It's not clear what that contract could include.
Herbert's spokesman Paul Edwards said in a statement Tuesday the governor "intends to sign the legislation, but he looks forward to visiting with the mayor later this week to discuss the kind of technical fixes that need to be made in the next general legislative session."
Plans for a meeting with Biskupski and Herbert come after the governor called the mayor Monday morning and "expressed interest in reaching an agreed-upon approach to the inland port authority," according to a news release issued Tuesday.
"Gov. Herbert's call is a positive development," Biskupski said in a statement. "The city is eager to create a path forward and return working with the state in good faith."
The Utah Legislature swiftly passed SB234 on the second-to-last day of the 2018 session, after making sweeping changes on the House floor, which were approved by the Senate just 30 minutes later — leaving little time for city officials to react.
The new version not only cut the city's representation on the board from three seats to two, but also allowed the port authority to capture 100 percent of the project area's tax increment.
Over the next 25 years, the city estimates the port authority would take control of $360 million in new property tax revenues from Salt Lake City, $581 million from the Salt Lake City School District, and $84 million from Salt Lake City libraries. In total, that's more than $1.4 billion at stake, city officials said in a news release.
House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, told the Deseret News in an interview last week that the version of the bill that passed was drafted without Salt Lake City after he said he became "frustrated" that city leaders remained firmly opposed to multiple versions of the bill, despite efforts to accommodate their concerns.4 comments on this story
In all versions of the bill, city leaders' concerns have persisted that the Utah Inland Port Authority would have the power to usurp administrative land use decisions through an appeal board (which is also made up of the same members of the port authority board).
However, Hughes argues that the bill doesn't usurp city land use authority, and that the bill was drafted with the intent to work in "concert" with the city to develop a global trade area — a project he says would be too big for one city or county.