Salt Lake City joined with the state and Salt Lake County to jointly fund and operate the Salt Palace complex via an interlocal agreement unanimously approved by the City Council Tuesday night.
The move, which was passed contingent upon review by city attorneys, relieves the county of full responsibility for funding the convention center, the adjacent Arts Center, Symphony Hall and Capitol Theatre.The agreement is seen as a temporary solution to keep the downtown complex afloat until it can become self-sustaining, Council Chairman Tom Godfrey said.
"This is in no way to act in perpetuity; it is hoped that they (the county) can get some decent management in there and work on some funding themselves," he said.
The agreement, already endorsed by the state and Salt Lake County, calls for financial support of up to $425,000 yearly from each party. Salt Lake City has budgeted $335,000 for the complex in fiscal 1989. However, the pact says funding requirements are non-binding.
Additionally, each group will appoint three volunteers to an advisory board that will recommend policy and monitor expenditures at the facilities, once rocked by a criminal investigation of a former Salt Palace official.
Shared funding of the facility was first entertained in a 1987 interim legislative committee as a way of supporting the facility, which the county said it was having difficulty funding alone.
Like many convention centers and arts facilities across the nation, the Salt Palace Center operates with a sizable financial deficit. In 1986 the Salt Palace Center's deficit was nearly $1.3 million.
County officials had occasionally threatened to close some of the arts facilities unless additional funding sources were found.
"That's when we decided to get involved, to protect the arts," Godfrey said.
Under the agreement, the county still retains full responsibility for funding the complex and accepts liability at the center. The city and state of Utah have pledged only non-binding support.