If Salt Lake wants to build a convention hotel downtown, it should do it without taxpayer subsidies, or so says SR1, a resolution approved by a Senate committee Tuesday.
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said giving a tax break to a downtown hotel goes against his principle that government shouldn’t subsidize a business competing against the private sector.
Jordan Garn, executive director of the Utah Hotel and Lodging Association, said nearly a third of the $300 million project could come from public subsidies and said it puts private sector hotels at a disadvantage.
“What we’re talking about is a whopper of a subsidy here and it just crosses way over the line,” said Clint Ensign, vice president with Grand America and Little America. “This is vintage corporate welfare.”
But Salt Lake County argues that Utah has lost two dozen conventions because it lacks an adequate convention hotel and one can’t be built solely by the private sector. The break is modeled after the tax incentives the state offers to lure companies and would be given after the hotel is built.
Another bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, promoting the convention hotel, is expected to be released this week.