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Legislation would permit MIDA to levy accommodation, resort communities taxes

A view of the Deer Valley expansion.
Parker Malatesta / KPCW
A view of the Deer Valley expansion.

A bill moving through the Utah Legislature could enable the Military Installation Development Authority to impose a resort communities sales tax in its project areas.

If passed, Senate Bill 169 will make a few changes to the military land use authority’s powers.

It will permit MIDA to impose an accommodations tax and a resort communities sales tax within its jurisdiction.

Nicole Cottle, MIDA’s chief legal officer, told the committee the taxes will be an additional tool for financing MIDA’s project areas.

“In many cases, these project areas are very infrastructure-heavy, very difficult projects to facilitate,” she said.

Sen. Jerry Stevenson, the bill’s sponsor, said he anticipates the new taxes will be permanent because they’ll affect areas such as the Deer Valley resort expansion.

“I don’t see that tax being taken off,” he said. “It’s a little bit like Park City – once that’s in place, there’s extra costs incurred with being a resort community.”

But Sen. Daniel McCay expressed hesitation about that part of the bill because of MIDA’s structure.

“The idea that it be in perpetuity is the only thing that’s kind of bothering me a little bit about the bill, but it’s not a big bother,” he said. “Because MIDA, unlike being a local elected authority, there isn’t really an elected membership that sets up that tax…. Usually when we come up with a local option incremental sales tax like this might be, there’s elected officials that are accountable for it.”

He noted that unlike in public infrastructure districts, where such sales taxes can only be levied on certain items, this tax could be applied to just about anything within the resort area.

But despite his hesitation, he joined the Senate Revenue and Taxation Standing Committee in its unanimous vote Wednesday to send the bill forward for a second reading.

The resort communities and accommodation taxes aren’t the only changes the bill would make. It will also tweak the definition of “military land” and set up a way to share tax revenue back to local school districts.

The bill defines “military land” as land owned or leased by MIDA, as well as land held or used for the benefit of the military.

It also includes a method for MIDA to pay local school districts, such as Wasatch County School District, part of the property tax revenue from its project area.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Jerry Stevenson, from Layton. He is also the vice-chair of MIDA’s board.

He told the Senate committee he’s happy with MIDA’s progress in the state.

“We’ve proved our value,” he said. “We feel very comfortable where we’re at and what we’ve done and what we’re able to do for our United States military.”

News in late December revealed Stevenson’s campaign received $11,000 in donations over the past two years from Extell, the luxury developer responsible for the Deer Valley expansion, and its owner, Gary Barnett.

SB 169 will now move to two more Senate readings before heading to the House. Only after it passes both chambers of the legislature will it go to the governor’s desk.

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