This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Salt Lake County residents would be accountable for $300 million to buy land for the state's Mountain View Corridor under a bill that aims to build the west-side highway without tolls.
With no specific discussion of a bond issue, the House on Tuesday voted 67 to 4 to pass a third version of the legislation, which would allow the state to bond to buy corridor property between Interstate 80 and northern Utah County.
A portion of Salt Lake County sales taxes and a $10 vehicle registration fee would back the bond, said bill sponsor Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan. He had barely finished summarizing his second substitute HB158 when Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, offered the third version that stripped a provision raising fuel taxes by 10 cents a gallon by 2018. The change left the county as the sole contributor to the corridor fund.
County officials took pains to say they support the $1.8 billion west-side highway, but were not pleased with the state's willingness to scoop up local taxes to pay for a regional highway that would serve far more people than just county residents.
Rep. Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake City, said the bill was too open-ended, allowing county taxes and fees to be a continual source of funding for Mountain View instead of limiting the measure to a certain number of years.
Michael Jensen, a Salt Lake County Council member who also serves as vice president of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, said Tuesday the County Council hasn't endorsed the notion that only Salt Lake County residents should pay for the corridor land or that all of the taxes should be dedicated to Mountain View indefinitely. The county fees that would pay for the bond "are local fees that we should keep the ability to control at the local level," Jensen said.
The funds to back the bond would be a quarter of the quarter-cent sales tax increase voters approved Nov. 7, plus 25 percent of a similar tax hike voters approved in 2000 that would become available in 2012, plus the $10 fee the County Council passed last spring with the intent of sending its revenues to help pay for Mountain View.
Taken together, the taxes and fees amount to about $34 million per year. After the floor debate, Harper said that would be more than enough to buy the land and take a giant step toward building the highway without resorting to tolls.
Harper and Becker defended the need to raise fuel taxes, with Becker objecting to the growing trend of paying for highways out of the general fund to the detriment of other statewide needs.
But Rep. Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said raising fuel taxes needed more discussion. And Noel said a fuel tax increase would hit rural residents disproportionately.
Would have Salt Lake County pay for $300 million bond for west-side highway.
Next step: Awaits a fiscal note before going to a Senate committee.