SLCSD and the Inland Port
The inland port was high on our list of legislative priorities this session, and we are pleased to report on several positive changes. For those who haven’t followed this issue closely, the legislature took over a large swath of land last year in SLC’s northwest quadrant. The Inland Port Authority Board (IPAB) was created to oversee this land and to turn it into an inland shipping port, a trade hub where goods could be manufactured, processed, and distributed nationwide. We had several concerns with the inland port, including concerns for air quality and potential loss of property tax revenue for our schools.
SLCSD is the largest taxing entity affected by this legislation. We could lose up to $500 million in possible tax revenue over 25 years. Our schools are in direct proximity to the port, including three schools located .75 mile (i.e. a 90-second drive) from the inland port boundaries. We also have concerns about air quality and noise pollution.
Since last summer, we’ve had positive conversations with members of the IPAB, legislative leaders, Governor Herbert, and other policy makers regarding the effects of the Inland Port on the Salt Lake City School District. These conversations have led to some positive outcomes. We are in the process of creating a first-of-its-kind-in-Utah partnership with Stadler Rail, one of the companies that will be housed within the boundaries of the inland port. Stadler Rail has offered to create an apprenticeship program that will be available to SLCSD juniors and seniors. This unique program would allow students the opportunity to develop a unique and marketable skill and to graduate from high school ready to enter the workforce in a highly-skilled profession. This partnership will launch in the 2019-20 school year. More details will be made available as this partnership is finalized.
We’ve also seen some positive legislative changes this session. One bill, HB 433, is currently making its way through the legislature and would create a “hub and spoke” model for the inland port. That means the functions of the inland port would not be confined solely to Salt Lake City. SLC would remain the hub, but spokes could be developed anywhere in the state, as long as the local government entities are supportive of the project. This is a positive change for our school district. Having other hubs to process and ship goods means that fewer trucks and trains will be coming into Salt Lake City, which, in turn, means a huge reduction in possible pollution. With our schools in such close proximity to the port, any reduction in pollution and potential air quality impacts is a positive point for us.
As we’ve built relationships with the IPAB and its staff, our School Board has been able to receive updates form the Inland Port’s Interim Executive Director, Chris Conabee. We value the relationships we’ve built and will continue to advocate for our students, including pushing for the Salt Lake City School District to have a seat on the Inland Port Authority Board.
In the meantime, we remain committed to being productive partners and looking for positive ways to impact the development of the port while minimizing any harmful impacts to our students, staff, and families. If you’d like to learn more about the Utah Inland Port, you can visit their website at: link to Inland Port website.