Vineyard RDA Nightmare

DO YOU LIVE IN UTAH COUNTY? BE AT THE VINEYARD TOWN HALL AT 7 PM WEDNESDAY NIGHT UNLESS YOU WANT A 35 YEAR PROPERTY TAX INCREASE TO ENRICH SOME DEVELOPERS. (Vineyard meeting moved tonight due to expected size. Go to Vineyard Elementary School ; 620 East Holdaway Road (400 South) at 7 PM)

Last week at work, a co-worker handed me a few interesting news articles. There’s been some odd happenings with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in the past which triggered requests for an audit last year. A number things don’t make sense to me right now but some people are looking into this in the hopes of making sense of it.

Over a month ago there was a vote to approve a redevelopment agency in Vineyard. There were 2 parts: one to clean up Geneva’s site, and another for massive tax breaks for the developers over 35-40 years which would prevent (depending on who you talk to) perhaps $200 million from flowing into Alpine School District to cover costs of dealing with many students moving into Vineyard. As I previously blogged, I agree that the cleanup is probably appropriate, but tax breaks for developers after that is absolutely wrong. Let the market decide how that land gets developed.

Utah county commissioner Larry Ellertson was one of the members of this committee who voted in favor of giving huge tax breaks to the developers of the Vineyard RDA. I mention him in particular since he’s mentioned below in the news articles I’ve posted snips from below.

Vineyard is to receive a TRAX or FrontRunner station through UTA as part of this deal. Why UTA and these RDA’s are popping up together is something that I haven’t put the dots together on but I think it’s something we should all be interested in.

If any of you don’t really know what a “redevelopment” project is, Thomas Sowell recently wrote an article which the Deseret News carried explaining the problem with redevelopments which was really enlightening for me. I highly recommend you read this article and then look at the pictures below from the Sandy TRAX station redevelopment agency which is now just an eyesore. Based on Sandy’s TRAX project, and the fact below that some of the Geneva/Vineyard principals have defaulted on a loan in Vineyard and are trying to escape the personal guarantee’s of $36 million, and then in the next article saying if the project is approved they’ll put $600 million into the project, it all seems a bit fishy to me and not at all worth the risk. (not to mention the tax breaks)

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700119125/The-redevelopment-hoax.html?pg=1

Sandy TRAX RDA pics

Sandy TRAX RDA 1

Sandy TRAX RDA 2

Sandy TRAX RDA 3

Sandy TRAX RDA 4

 

Here are the articles:

April 29, 2010

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=10577086

UTA facing big cuts. Already made $11 million in budget cuts. However…

“UTA board chairman Larry Ellertson tells the Salt Lake Tribune the new CEO position being created for general manager John Inglish — for which he will be paid close to $300,000 a year — is in fact his severance after 32 years with the agency.”

That’s interesting…someone gets longevity severance??? How much does the Governor make? We can’t find a “public servant” for less than this?

 

May 19, 2010 (VIDEO NEWS CLIP)

http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=10842333

This is interesting. Bruce Jones, UTA’s lawyer, is a member of the Cottonwood Heights city council. Jones lobbied on behalf of Terry Diehl for a TRAX stop next to a development owned by Diehl. Diehl is on the UTA board and determines Jone’s pay. Jones received an $80,000 raise in one year though I can’t tell from the article if it was before or after Jones’ lobbying efforts.

 

Jan 20, 2011

http://www.utahpulse.com/featured_article/geneva-redevelopment-project-gets-green-light

Anderson Geneva Development purchased the Geneva land in 2005 after Geneva closed in 2001. Anderson has spent $20 million to clean it up and another $4 million on improvements. A $300 million plan was approved for this site and is planned to have a UTA FrontRunner and TRAX transit hub located there.

 

Feb. 22, 2011

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/51271396-79/anderson-credit-america-union.html.csp

Anderson Development is walking away from a $36.4 million loan from America First Credit Union. AFCU isn’t happy about it and is suing Gerald Anderson and Michael Hutchings who personally guaranteed the loan. Anderson has a $10 million commitment to Vineyard to build an overpass, fire station and water tank.

 

Mar. 17, 2011 (VIDEO NEWS CLIP)

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=14773138&s_cid=rss-148

Hutchings says his company will pledge $600 million on the project if the URA deal goes through to raise taxes on Utah county residents.

My question is, if they’re walking away from a $36 million commitment, how do we have any proof they will follow through on a $600 million pledge? Just to be sure no one ties this into the Sandy TRAX RDA above, I have no idea if these people were involved on that project.

 

Mar. 17, 2011

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705368921/Geneva-redevelopment-project-meets-opposition.html

“The Alpine School District and Utah Taxpayers Association don’t want to see public money used to fund part of the $900 million-plus makeover planned for the former Geneva Steel property.

And they may take legal action to keep it from happening.

…If the project is approved next week by the town RDA, homeowners living within the Alpine School District boundaries would see a property tax increase of between $14 and $17 per year — based on the average home price of $230,000 — for 35 years.

School district officials also are worried about the 400-plus acres of residential construction in Anderson Development’s plans. Property taxes on the homes, Bromley says, would not pay for the full cost of educating the number of students such growth would bring.”

I would support ASD doing this.

 

***AMEN*** Mar. 19, 2011 (Editorial)

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700119756/A-troubling-tax-subsidy.html

“[Vineyard] City leaders ought to reject this, at least at the amount proposed, for a variety of reasons. While it may be legitimate to use tax money to clean the blighted site of the old steel mill, or to attract businesses that bring new people to the state, the free market, not tax subsidies, ought to determine most of what goes on that site.

Instead, the proposal would leave the Alpine School District shortchanged. That is because part of the subsidy would come from money that normally goes to schools. It would be tied up for 35 years while new housing adds to the burden of students who need to be taught.

…If Utah County has a demand for housing, shopping or businesses, the market should decide where they go, and they should contribute taxes to the programs and agencies that serve them. For Vineyard to give any more than what it would take to clean the Geneva Steel site would be wrong.”

 

In summary, there are a lot of odd things happening here and although I don’t have the connections crystal clear, it’s troubling enough that some investigations ought to happen and at a minimum, the previous vote needs overturned Wednesday night.

 

 

3 Responses to “Vineyard RDA Nightmare”

  • Milld786:

    Oak,

    Does this affect more than just ASD residents? Does it affect all residents of Utah Valley?

  • All of Utah county.

  • Lauri Pratt:

    Clean up of the property should have been the responsibility of the previous owners. (Assuming that the property is now owned by Vineyard.) Property owners get fined for having eyesores or junk. It appears to me that the decision makers are wanting to pass the burden on to the many little guys just because it can be spread thinner. The people who purchased homes in Vineyard area knew that they lived next to an eyesore but benefited by having a less expensive home. For many this was driven by their income not their logic. What makes the more wealthy decision makers think that increasing their property value makes them more able to afford more?

    Or no, let’s tax the whole county. Since Vineyard can’t afford it. Who is benefiting here? Developers who need work? I like the idea of people getting involved in this decision.