Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon has been under constant email attack since announcing his endorsement for the Real Salt Lake stadium deal last week. It was a confusing decision to say the least given Corroon’s early skepticism of the project and its $35 million cost to Salt Lake County taxpayers.
So, what happened? According to The Salt Lake Tribune Corroon cited several elements that sweetened the deal for him and in his opinion for the county as a whole. For one thing, the county would own all of the land. The county would also rake in 50 cents for every ticket sold and supposedly would not be held accountable financially should RSL fail or decide to pack its bags. There’s also the little matter of an extra $45 million of state money that which would supposedly be freed up for other projects.
While those benefits sound great, it’s not exactly the whole story. It was revealed Wednesday that a large potion of the property tax dollars committed to the project would come from the Jordan School District, except, the District didn’t know about it. Jordan Superintendent Barry Newbold told The Salt Lake Tribune, “It was interesting to us that [Sandy] made some very public commitments about those funds and we didn’t have any detail about them.”
Because the amount of property tax dollars Sandy can commit to the project won’t quite cover the cost, they’re hoping that other groups like the Jordan School District will be willing to give up their share of the property tax pie, which would mean the loss of millions of dollars for schools if the Jordan School Board of Education agrees.
The school district can option out of the deal altogether, but city officials have made it clear that such a decision would put a considerable strain on the rest of the city’s public services.
Utah schools are already in crisis, with the lowest per-student spending in the country, is it really appropriate to be diverting these much needed funds from our schools to finance a private development deal?
Not according to a Jordan board resolution made in February of 2005. “Allowing development agencies to divert school funds only exacerbates Utah’s education financial shortfall by redirecting needed ‘school revenues’ to ‘economic development.’”
But, in the face of so much pressure from the city will the school board stand its ground? Or, will it allow Real to head-butt our kids where it hurts?