The Senate on Monday passed a bill designed to prevent the sort of under-the-radar approval that allowed the Real Salt Lake soccer team to win a huge tax break over the past several years.
Senators voted 27-0 to pass SB101 and sent it to the House for consideration.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported last year how in 2012 amid lobbying by the team, Salt Lake County officials reduced the taxable value of Rio Tinto Stadium by more than half, from $110 million to $53.1 million.
That off-the-field victory has saved the team more than an estimated $5 million in taxes since then — equivalent to about 70 percent of the team’s guaranteed player payroll last year of $7.4 million. (Pro soccer players are paid less than stars in many other sports.)
Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, the bill’s sponsor, said what upset him is “that it never drew public attention until now,” six years later.
As the Tribune reported, “even Salt Lake County Council members who approved it say they don’t remember the vote nor discussing it. It was buried among more than 700 re-evaluations proposed by the county assessor’s office in the same meeting.”
Several hundred proposals were lumped together for individual votes in that meeting.
Fillmore’s bill would require that when a “county board of equalization is going to make a substantial valuation change … that it simply needs to be listed separately on the agenda.” He said that would require a separate vote on big changes and improve chances that the public and officials give them close scrutiny.
His bill would require such separate listing for any change in valuation that is more than $1 million and more than 20 percent of the previous amount.