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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

No agreement reached with Omni on convention hotel

Today Salt Lake County released this statement on the convention hotel deal with Omni. I support Mayor McAdams in this decision and agree that we need to make sure tax dollars are invested wisely.

Salt Lake County, UT—Mayor Ben McAdams announced today that he is walking away from a proposed contract with Omni to develop a convention headquarters hotel adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center, after nine months of negotiations. McAdams said the company’s proposed financial terms during the last month of talks became too costly to Utah taxpayers.
McAdams said the development of a convention hotel is an important part of growing the county’s convention business, but Omni was asking for too much in public participation.
“I’m disappointed that we could not get to ‘yes’ with Omni, but it reached a point where they were asking for too much in public financing which would benefit their bottom line, at taxpayer expense,” said McAdams.
The process to develop the convention hotel was launched in 2014, with passage of legislation that provided post-performance tax incentives refunded to the hotel owner after project completion for the construction and maintenance of public spaces including convention meeting rooms, public parking and other public amenities. McAdams said that Omni’s original proposal indicated they would use the incentive package to develop a convention hotel and additional public meeting space. Last November, a 13-person committee reviewed the proposal and recommended that the county move forward with negotiations on project terms. By mid-July, McAdams said Omni wanted that incentive and then some, in the form of public grants and cash advances.
McAdams said another sticking point involved an agreement with hotel owners to block rooms for citywide conventions at the Salt Palace. While willing to “technically” block rooms, McAdams said Omni wouldn’t agree to the room block market rate protection that was set forth in the original request for proposal (RFP) and is typical for a convention headquarters hotel. Without room rate protection, McAdams said Omni could effectively get out of the agreement by offering above-market room rates not acceptable to event sponsors. McAdams said providing the incentives to the private hotel owner and then ultimately not having a viable room commitment was not acceptable to the county.
“I strongly believe in this private hotel development and its economic value to the state, but not at any cost. Salt Lake County is a great place to invest, with a strong, vibrant economy. We just need to find a hotel developer that understands what an opportunity this is, and wants to negotiate a fair deal,” said McAdams.
He said the county plans to reissue the RFP and stands ready to work with new development partners.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Position statements needed for Community Preservation voter guide

With the passage of SB 199 —Community Preservation—residents of the unincorporated County will have the opportunity to participate in a historic election this November to decide their form of government. In preparation for this election the County and community leaders are preparing a number of educational materials to help voters make an informed decision.  One of these educational pieces will be a voter guide which will include position statements from community members on the ballot questions.

The County is now soliciting position statements from community members to be considered for publication in this voter guide.  Below are guidelines to be followed for all position submissions.  All position statements must be submitted by 5pm on August 31st, 2015 and should be submitted to

Township Position Statements
Township (Millcreek, Copperton, White City, Magna, Kearns, Emigration) position statements will be accepted related to the following ballot questions:

  1. Position statement for the township becoming a city
  2. Position statement for the township becoming a metro township
  3. Position statement for joining the Municipal Services District
  4. Position statement for not joining the Municipal Services District 

Unincorporated Island Position Statements
Unincorporated island position statements will be accepted related to the following ballot question:

  1. Position statement for remaining unincorporated
  2. Position statement for annexing into the designated city (to learn which city has been designated to appear on the ballot for each island please visit

Position statements must meet the following guidelines to be considered:

  • Submissions must include the author’s full name and not include more than five authors for one submission (anonymous submissions will not be considered)
  • There are no limits to the number of submissions one author may send
  • All submissions must be sent in Word format
  • Submissions should not exceed 500 words (if a submission does exceed this word count the County Council has the authority to shorten the submission)
  • All submissions must be sent by 5pm on August 31st, 2015 to  
  • Position statement authors do not need to live in the area they are submitting a position statement for
  • Information should be factual and accurate 

After review of all position statements the County Council will select the submissions that will be included in the voter guide.  If you have any questions related to voter guide position statements please contact the Community Preservation hotline number at 385-468-7199 or

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Council Puts Local Option Sales Tax on the Ballot

Today during our county council meeting, we voted to put the local option sales tax increase on the ballot for the voters to decide.

I voted for this because I believe government closest to the people governs best, and that is in cities and townships. All 16 cities in Salt Lake County passed resolutions asking the County Council to put this issue on the ballot.

In my previous post I outlined some of the other reasons I felt okay about putting this issue on the ballot this fall. I also included details on how the tax would be broken down.

I don’t know that I am necessarily in favor or against the sales tax increase at this point. I want to make sure the public hears from our cities, the county and Utah Transit Authority specific projects they are planning to fund with their portion of the tax so we can be as transparent as possible to voters. I would like to get a list from each city, as well as the county and UTA to put on our website so voters know exactly how this will be spent and why it is needed. This information should also be sent to every voter in a voter information pamphlet.

Why should we invest in transportation?
We know that roads cost more taxpayer dollars when they are not maintained. Things like slurry seals, chip seals and overlays, that help keep roads in good shape cost money, but are far less expensive than going without maintenance and having to rebuild a road years later. As the cost of oil increases, more money needs to be put towards road maintenance. Asphalt is 90 percent oil based. I also know that good transportation infrastructure directly impacts economic development and helps us maintain a healthy economy for years to come, which ultimately saves taxpayer dollars. Whether or not these things can be funded through more conservative government spending, or if we need to increase the sales tax to pay for these things is what I hope to figure out in the coming weeks and months.

This does NOT cost $200 per year for a family of four on average!
You may have heard some organizations say that this will cost families $200 per year, or $50 for an individual. Honestly, I can't figure out their math.

If a family of four spends $80,000 per year on taxable items (not including food), then yes, it will cost that. But most people in Salt Lake County don't make that much money, let alone would be spending that much on taxable items. Keep in mind this tax increase doesn't affect the tax on food.

According to the Census Bureau, the median household income from 2009-2013 in Salt Lake County was $60,000. If a family who made $60,000 spent half of their income on non-food taxable items (which is a pretty high estimate), the annual amount of sales tax they pay would be $2100. In that scenario, this tax increase would be about $78 more per year.

I'm not saying $78 per year isn't a lot of money. It is. As government leaders we should be looking at every dime we take from taxpayers and make sure it is going to services that are vital to the community. But I don't like it when people give inaccurate info. (Keep in mind that a lot of businesses pay sales tax, so not all of the $54 million in revenue comes from residents.)

What will the ballot say?
The County Council doesn't get to have much say in the ballot language, since the state legislature approved it. Here is the ballot language that was finalized today:


Shall Salt Lake County, Utah, be authorized to impose a quarter-of-one-percent (0.25%, the equivalent of 1 cent for every $4 spent) sales and use tax for the specific purpose of transportation improvements, such as roads, trails, sidewalks, maintenance, bus and rail service, and traffic and pedestrian safety features, with revenues divided among the county, cities and towns, and the public transit provider within the County?