August 6, 2008
Funding for Airport TRAX Approved
By Leigh Dethman Deseret News
Funding for a TRAX line to the airport is finally secured.
The Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday approved an agreement to divert a portion of car-registration fees to come up with $35 million to pay for the mass-transit line.
Overall, the council was on board with the agreement, which passed with an 8-1 vote. But most of the council members didn't like the fact they were left out of the last-minute maneuverings of the Legislature.
"You guys negotiated this without us," Councilman Joe Hatch told a representative from the Utah Transit Authority and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. "I got to admit, that seems extremely bizarre."
The city thought it had a plan to fund its $35 million commitment for the light-rail line through airport improvement funds, but the Legislature stopped that in its tracks after Delta Air Lines officials balked.
Then, within the waning hours of the past legislative session, lawmakers decided that the city should use a portion of the $10 fee Salt Lake County residents pay when registering their vehicles to pay for airport TRAX.
"We had a source of funding within Salt Lake City -- the Legislature decided to pull away that funding for the city," Becker said. "They directed this."
Technically, Salt Lake County is in charge of divvying up vehicle registration fee revenue, and if leaders there ever decided to stop giving that revenue to the city, the city would be in a bind, since it is now locked in a 30-year bond agreement with UTA.
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