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Richard Piatt ReportingA plan to expand the Salt Palace is going forward, even as serious questions about how to pay for it linger.
Phase one of the Salt Palace expansion is a parking garage set to be done in a couple months. It is the building that goes on top of the garage that's the issue, an 82 million dollar upgrade that has to stay on schedule in order to meet future commitments.
Today Salt Lake County ordered 12-million dollars worth of steel for the project, even as the question of paying for it all is unfinished business. Before a meeting to try to figure out those details, County Mayor Peter Corroon conveyed 'urgency' about moving forward.
Salt Lake City is in a near-crisis over the issue, required to chip in 20-million dollars over the next ten years. City council chairman Dale Lambert says that money--collected from a hotel room tax--would take a chunk out of the budget the city uses to pay for police and fire protection. What the city wants to do is raise sales taxes in the central business district, a move they need the Legislature and governor to support.
The Salt Palace expansion is an important economic development issue, and pressure is building to resolve it's funding questions once and for all. But as of this week, Governor Huntsman has not decided whether to include the Salt Palace in the special session, set for later this month.
Legisaltive leaders are reportedly not supportive of the idea of allowing Salt Lake City's tax increase. That could force the city to make some tough decisions about its budget.