Rental car tax to fuel Salt Palace expansion



    A bill allowing a 4 percent tax increase on rental cars will soon fund an expansion to the already under-construction Salt Palace.

    Passed Tuesday, House Bill 360 will increase the tax charged on rental cars from 3 to 7 percent. John Daich, director of finance for the Salt Palace, said while the bill was being drafted the Utah Legislature financial analyst said approximately $6.1 million a year will be raised.

    In addition to raising money for Salt Lake County and the Salt Palace, the bill contains allowances for sharing profits among other urban counties.

    An expansion of the ballroom, more exhibit space and reorganization of parking are in the general expansion plan. The cost of the project could range anywhere from $40 million to $50 million and increase floor space by 140,000 square feet.

    “(The commission is in the process) of fine tuning (the cost),” Daich said.

    Brent Overson, a commissioner of the Salt Lake County Planning Commission, felt positive the bill would pass because of the nature of the tax.

    “It does not mean an additional tax for the state of Utah,” Overson said. “Only those renting cars will pay the tax,” he said.

    Various circumstances prompted the expansion.

    “We were trying to be sensitive to the needs of our clients,” Daich said. The Outdoor Expo, the Salt Palace’s largest convention, and the 2002 Olympic Games caused the need for expansion, Daich said.

    In 2002, the Salt Palace will be the Olympic Games’ media center. Press pools from all over the world will coordinate their coverage from the Salt Palace.

    “Several (groups of the press) would be in tents during the games if we didn’t do this expansion,” Daich said.

    The expansion will allow larger conventions to locate in Salt Lake City, Overson said.

    Daich agreed the expansion will increase event capacity. With the new space, the Salt Palace will be able to hold larger multiple events, or more than one event going on at the same time.

    Although the expansion is still in the planning and development stage, Overson said construction could begin as early as this month with possible completion in August 1999.

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