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West Jordan • City resident Steve Jones told Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams that he was listening to the radio on his drive home when he first heard about the deal West Jordan has proposed to entice Facebook to build a data center here.
"I've got to admit, I'm pretty ticked off," he said, followed by a supportive nod from the mayor, before adding, "I'm pretty ticked off at the county."
Jones was among about two dozen Utahns who joined media and local officials Wednesday at a public meeting organized by the county, days before the city's tax entity commission is scheduled to vote on up to $250 million in tax increment incentives for a server farm on the city's western boundary.
Public sentiment was a mixed bag: West Jordan resident David Ward followed Jones by thanking the county for bringing the proposed incentives to his attention which he said city leaders had failed to do.
McAdams told the group that four cities had "walked away" from the company known to be Facebook but referred to officially as Project Discus after blushing at the incentives called for by the social-media giant.
"We can do better," McAdams said afterward, "and I hope that we can walk away from this deal."
Earlier Wednesday, West Jordan City Manager Mark Palesh said the tax entity commission's vote may be delayed if the state school board requires more time to decide.
The proposal requires a two-thirds majority to pass the eight-member committee, and given that the county possesses two of those votes and has been vocal in its opposition, the state board's vote could tip the balance.
The meeting date is "in flux right now," Palesh said. As to what the state board might do, he said, "Right now, I have no clue."
People at the Wednesday meeting heard that Facebook's deal on the 230 acres, given that the company would pay an average of 15 percent of the property taxes over the 20-year life of the incentive, would be equivalent to a much smaller development without incentives.
Al Belt said he owns commercial property in West Jordan and that the job numbers which have ranged from 70 to 300 during the course of various presentations are what is expected at a 20,000-square-foot building on 2 acres.
"You're setting a dangerous precedent," Belt said. "When the word gets out that they can do this to us, the next [company] can do the same thing."
Jones said he was frustrated with the discrepancies in the numbers presented by the city and county of which there are a few.
County representatives say they're using the numbers presented in the most recent draft and not revisions that the city has cited but not committed to during later negotiations: 1,700 acres, not 1,050 or 230, and a $51.6 million municipal energy tax rebate, not roughly $5 million.
The county also continues to cite Facebook's requested water capacity 4.8 million gallons per day, revised from 5.3 in an earlier city estimate and not the projected daily use, which the city says is much lower than 1 million gallons per day. McAdams said that's because the city will have to commit to 4.8 million gallons, whether Facebook uses it or not.
Kayleen Whitelock, of the Jordan School District board, said she heard McAdams on the radio, spouting "incredible" water numbers, but that what Facebook is asking for is reasonable, given the uses at Salt Lake City's golf courses, the University of Utah and Hogle Zoo.
Jones pointed to a slideshow presentation projected on a big screen behind the mayor and complained, "This stuff up here, to the local residents, means absolutely nothing."
Michael Jones, whose aunt Vicky owns the land in question, sat with a microphone as he patiently explained his family's history with the land, saying his aunt is in "no hurry to sell the property."
Three neighboring business parks are evidence, Jones said, that growth in the area is not automatic, should the tax entities decide not to sweeten the deal for Facebook.
Kathleen Bailey said her mandate was to inform the county that the township of Copperton west of West Jordan, at the mouth of Bingham Canyon doesn't support a future in which the west bench becomes "industrial row."
Bailey said concerned Copperton residents had signed a letter she sent to the Jordan School District to announce that in return for its vote to support incentives, they are withdrawing their support for a $245 million proposed bond for new school buildings.
They signed the letter, posted to Facebook, by typing their names in a Facebook comment.