DRAPER — The question of whether taxpayers should invest millions of dollars to help spur development in Draper along the new Frontrunner South line sparked a spirited debate Tuesday among leaders in Salt Lake County.
With Frontrunner South now operating, the city of Draper is looking to boost development now underway there, but are asking how to do it and who should pay.
Developers and cities are looking to build new mixed-use, transit-oriented developments, near transit stops. And Draper has OK'd a project of unlimited height and density, just north of Bangerter Highway, in the name of job growth.
"And this will be a site for that to happen, and will create thousands of jobs there," Draper Mayor Darrell Smith said.
To entice development, Draper wants to build parking structures by the stop near 130th South. To pay, it's asking for tens of millions in subsidies, the most from Canyons School District and Salt Lake County, for power, water, sewer and parking.
Some at the county council meeting asked if it is one more tax.
"I'm troubled that we're asking middle class families of Salt Lake County, small businesses and all property owners to subsidize a commercial project of this nature, when already you have developers that are profiting as a result of their real estate," said Republican councilman Richard Snelgrove.
Royce van Tassel witht the Utah Taxpayers Association said the problem is "taking money out of the classroom and instead saying we should spend it on subsidies for developers."
Others asked whether investment would grow even more tax revenue.
"That's how City Creek got built," said councilman Randy Horiuchi. "had it not been for cities' EDA, RDA infusions, City Creek would never have been built."
The site is controversial. A state audit found a then UTA board member, developer Terry Diehl, had a conflict of interest in a multi-million dollar real estate deal there, sparking a continuing probe by the Attorney General's office. Officials say he's not now involved.
The council is asking county financial advisors and its debt review committee to analyze the numbers and report back to the county council, which may meet again in the next few weeks.