The following is a response to the Salt Lake Tribune article published March 28th, 2024.

Could the Fairpark redevelopment project divert money from Salt Lake City schools?

The Fairpark redevelopment project will temporarily divert money not currently collected from a number of entities that receive property tax, including the Salt Lake School District, unless other agreements are reached. There is virtually no tax revenue going to schools right now from the area; it is the very definition of a blighted area.

Would the Fairpark redevelopment project happen without Tax Increment Financing?

Likely not. The Utah Taxpayers Association took a position of “support” on the original iteration of the bill in part because the redevelopment project appears to pass the “but for” test, meaning it would not go forward “but for” the incentive. The Fairpark area has not been developed yet and is widely considered to be unprofitable and blighted.

Could the tax revenue go toward teacher salaries if it weren’t going toward the Fairpark?

Of course. School districts can always spend collected revenue as they choose. They can also raise taxes to pay for what they need. The TIF does not prevent the Salt Lake School District from raising the property tax rate or from budgeting for higher teacher salaries. Equally, the school district can negotiate the terms of the TIF and other details of the Fairpark redevelopment plans. An earlier version of the bill would have diverted all state income tax collected from the non-resident athletes toward at-risk students; perhaps a similar arrangement could be made for the school district.

Is the school district right to complain?

The school district will not lose anything it currently collects as a result of the Fairpark redevelopment. In 30 years, it will collect millions more than it currently does. The Utah Legislature has spent unprecedented amounts on education over the last five years, and federal COVID funds also supplemented the school district for several years. Other taxing entities will also forgo potential tax revenues as a result of the TIF, so singling out the school district as the injured party seems disingenuous.