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Letter: Let those with most to gain pay for the revitalization of Salt Lake City’s downtown

The increase will most affect the poorest whose incomes disproportionately go to goods subject to the tax.

(Ryan Smith via X) Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith posted this rendering of the proposed downtown sports and entertainment district on X on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.

As detailed in The Tribune’s reporting on plans for downtown revitalization under SB272, many stakeholders are involved.

Frustratingly, those with most to gain seem content to saddle Salt Lake City with a regressive sales-tax increase. The increase will most affect the poorest whose incomes disproportionately go to goods subject to the tax — regardless of whether they’re hockey fans or want to spend their hard-earned incomes on the promised new bars and restaurants. Never mind those residents not being able to afford the envisioned housing that will most likely push already out-of-reach prices ever higher citywide.

Two groups stand to benefit most from developing the proposed area: Smith Entertainment Group and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both have shown they have the resources to pay to redevelop. SEG by its voracious multi-billion dollar acquisitions. And the church through its previous $1.5 billion City Creek development; its current extensive, multi-year Temple square renovation; and its estimated $182 billion in investments.

It’s disappointing that the church bearing the name of the scriptural champion of society’s least would communicate it is “pleased” with a regressive sales tax, even if its namesake’s disciples included a tax collector.

Jesus is also credited with saying “render…unto Caesar the things which are Caesars” (Matthew 22:21), but Tiberias would have blushed to have Palestine’s religious leaders come out as “pleased” with his taxes. Of course, Rome’s emperors would have to wait another couple centuries to enjoy as cozy a relationship with the ancient church as Utah’s Legislature has with the LDS Church and SEG.

Let those who have the most to gain pay if they want to revitalize downtown. “Show up” to let City Council and our state legislators know you don’t want to set this ugly precedent, taking from the have nots to benefit the haves.

Scott Johnson, Sandy

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