Arguing the State violated both the Ripper Clause and Equal Protection Clause of Utah Constitution, City asks Court to rule on legal merits of case.
Today, attorneys with Salt Lake City filed a motion for summary judgment, with the Third District Court, in the City’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Utah Inland Port Authority Act (Authority). A motion for summary judgment is typically filed when there is no dispute of material facts, which the State of Utah acknowledged in their response to the City’s motion for preliminary injunction filed in June. The motion filed today asks the court to rule on whether the legislation created by the State violates two provisions of our Utah State Constitution.
The City argues the legislation passed by the State violates the Ripper Clause by usurping the City’s land use and taxing authority, powers defined in the constitution as core municipal functions. The City believes that the State also created a two-tiered tax system with the development of the “hub and spoke” model in 2019. As defined in the legislation, the “hub and spoke” model gives taxpayers in other communities the option to have their tax revenue used as part of the Inland Port project, whereas Salt Lake City residents were forced to give up 100% of property tax increment, as well as a portion of City’s sales tax for a period of up to 40 years. The City argues this is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Likewise, City residents will be forced to bear the costs associated with maintaining “the hub” as it grows to benefit other regions of the state.
“Not only has the State illegally usurped the constitutionally protected powers of our municipality, but it has authorized the treatment of Salt Lake City taxpayers as second-class citizens, denying us the same opportunities enjoyed by others in Utah,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “The Utah State Constitution requires that state laws must be uniform in application, for exactly this reason, so lawmakers can’t discriminate against citizens for political purposes.”
The State now has two weeks to respond to the City’s motion. A hearing has been set for November 18, where the court will also consider the City’s motion for preliminary injunction. The City filed the injunction to prevent the Authority from spending or committing any of the City’s property tax increment or sales tax revenue pending the outcome of the case. The City also asked the court to prevent the Authority from engaging in any planning, design, or construction of site improvements or public infrastructure in the jurisdictional area.
“What happened to Salt Lake City is wrong. The State’s actions threaten to deny City residents the power to control their own destiny and robs them of taxes which help pay for services like police, fire, parks, and road repair,” added Mayor Biskupski. “What’s worse, is that nothing is standing in the way of State leaders from doing it to another community—this is why the Capital City will continue to fight this action in court.”
The motion for summary judgement can be found here: http://bit.ly/2nXWvjh
Supporting exhibits for summary judgement motion can be found here: http://bit.ly/2nbQ7VD