Those development projects, and many more, were made possible, in part, by Tax-Free Fund For Utah, an innovative investment entity Lacy launched on Pioneer Day, 1992. It is the oldest and only existing municipal-bond fund in Utah.
In 1984, he founded Aquila Management Corp., sponsor of several tax-free mutual funds in the United State that invest in municipal bonds used by cities, counties, states, school districts, redevelopment organizations and other government agencies to finance the construction of everything from highways to hospitals. In addition to Tax-Free Fund For Utah, he created single-state tax-free municipal-bond funds in Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon and Rhode Island.
Lacy wasn't the first person to see the win-win potential of tax-free municipal bonds, but he found a special niche by insisting that his funds are overseen by local trustees, officers and portfolio managers.
In Utah, as in each of the mutual funds' home states, he also established the practice of holding annual shareholder meetings; the Aquila Group of Funds is one of the few mutual-fund sponsors in the nation to hold such meetings. These meetings allow shareholders from every walk of life and income level to interact with corporate representatives face-to-face, ask questions and learn exactly how their money is being invested.
Shareholders in municipal-bond funds like Tax-Free Fund For Utah generally pay no federal or state taxes on income from these investments. Offering such tax breaks is a way for county and state governments to spur growth and improve infrastructure that could not be paid with cash on hand. They also save taxpayers money because, while such bonds pay lower interest, they can still attract investors thanks to their double federal and state tax-free status.
Lacy passed away late last year in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., at the age of 83. But thanks to his vision as one of the earliest creators of single-state tax-free municipal-bond funds, his legacy lives on, bringing countless benefits to the residents of our state
Lyle Hillyard is a Utah state senator. He and Gary Cornia are trustees for Tax-Free Fund For Utah.