SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Inland Port Authority agreed to take out $150 million in bonds to pay for a controversial project after a vote Monday afternoon.
In a 9-2 vote, members created a ‘public infrastructure district’ that will oversee bond funding with a separate board.
"I think this is the right move for the district. Having people who are professionals who understand where we are trying to go, to me, is critical,” said Ben Hart, who voted in favor.
The district will somewhat separate the Inland Port Authority from the funding and reduce the risk, should the bonds default. An attorney for the authority says the bonds will have an interest rate of 8.5% or lower over 35 years.
“The authority is trying to preserve all options to get these projects done at the lowest interest rate possible,” said municipal bond attorney Randy Larsen.
The inland port project would be a massive import-export center built on Salt Lake City’s West Side. Supporters argue it will be an economic boon and be designed with cleaner technology.
Before Monday’s vote, environmentalists protested against the inland port. They also submitted a petition with 2,100 signatures urging members to vote against the district and bonds.
"If this thing is built in the way they intend to build it, the air quality in Salt Lake City and the valley will deteriorate even more than it already has,” said Deeda Seed.
The creation of the public infrastructure district will need approval by the Lt. Governor’s office and could be in place within a couple weeks. Bonds could be issued as early as the end of the year.