SLC mayor files amended complaint in lawsuit against Utah Inland Port Authority

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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski amended her lawsuit against the Utah Inland Port Authority, further challenging the constitutionality of the state-created port authority.

Biskupski's office announced the new filing in a news release Monday, stating the amended complaint addresses changes made in HB433, the legislation passed by the Utah Legislature this year after Biskupski walked away from negotiations with Gov. Gary Herbert. She said then that she realized state leaders had no interest in returning land use and taxing authority to the city.

Biskupski refused to engage, standing firm on her position not to negotiate on a bill that she says has been "designed to incrementally force Salt Lake City to bend to the Legislature's will." But members of the Salt Lake City Council negotiated with state leaders to give some concessions to the city. The final version of the bill also removed language prohibiting a city from bringing a lawsuit against the port authority.

Ultimately, HB433 allowed the Utah Inland Port Authority to expand its reach to other areas of the state outside of its already 16,000-acre jurisdiction and partner with willing communities, including rural areas eager to maximize export opportunities for coal, oil, gas, hay or other products.

"HB433 is proof that the state has no intention of negotiating in good faith or addressing any of the serious concerns raised by my administration, namely land use and taxing authority,” Biskupski said in Monday's news release. “The bill made a bad deal for Salt Lake City even worse, and I hope has shown that city representatives need to finally stand united to fight this unprecedented attack on our residents.”

Biskupski's amended complaint adds more objections to the Utah Inland Port Authority. Those include that the legislation creates one project area for the port authority's jurisdictional land, mandates that the port authority take 100 percent of the city's property tax increment, mandates the authority take a portion of the city's sales tax revenue, and kept language that allows the port authority to substitute its judgment for the city's own land use appeals in the port authority's jurisdiction.

Along with allowing the port authority to take all of the property tax increment, as well as a portion of the city’s sales tax, HB433 also increases the period of time the port authority can take property tax increment from 25 years to 40 years, according to the mayor's office.

The mayor is also asking the court for a preliminary injunction to prevent the port authority from spending or committing any of the city’s property tax increment or sales tax revenue pending the outcome of the case. Her amended complaint is also asking the court to prevent the port authority from engaging in any planning, design, or construction of site improvements or public infrastructure in the jurisdictional area.

The move comes after a $5 million loan was authorized by the state to the authority for infrastructure improvements, which requires the port authority to pay back the loan using city property tax increment.

The city has begun the process of serving the named parties in the lawsuit, including Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah Inland Port Authority and Attorney General Sean Reyes, according to the mayor's office.

The city attorney has also sent a copy of the filings to the City Council, according to the mayor's office.

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Katie McKellar


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