The Taxpayer Giveaway at UTA Continues. This is Not Building Trust!

Latest UTA mess is the Clearfield Land Giveaway! UTA borrowed billions of dollars to buy a lot of land a few years ago. They haven’t paid the money back; yet, they are selling off some of that UTA land – at bargain basement prices – to insiders. Both personal and public entities insiders. No private business would stand for this! BTW, SLC has NO representative on the UTA Board right now! To read all the gory details

The multimillion dollar Clearfield Deal is not a good deal for riders of UTA or taxpayers.  As the Salt Lake City Council feuds with the Mayor, SLC citizens and transit users are completely unrepresented on the UTA Board! If I had been on the UTA Board yesterday, I would have been raising strenuous objection with my fellow Board member and friend of UTA riders and workers Mayor Brent Taylor!

This 'insider' Clearfield deal is bad for SLC, bad for UTA users and very good for a few inside UTA players. According to the Tribune, UTA just GAVE away a parcel at the station, valued at $1.5 million, to its former partner there — Thackeray Garn Co. — essentially to walk away from the rest of the site to clear the way for the Stadler proposal. UTA said it tried to cut ties with that firm because it had invited UTA board members to invest in some projects. Former House Majority Leader Kevin Garn is a partner in Thackeray Garn.

 

Salt Lake City Council, I know it's your vacation time, but you really ought to get off your salt shakers and get a tenacious hell raiser on the UTA board immediately--it is costing our city about $5 million a year in potholes not fixed and countless consternation of commuters not coordinated.

Mayor Brent Taylor of North Ogden, ex-FBI and current PhD student has put together this informative timeline.

WANT DETAILS? HERE IS MAYOR TAYLOR'S LOOK AT THE CLEARFIELD DEAL

History of Stadler—Clearfield Land Deal

2012 Thackeray Garn Company (TGC) obtains the rights to develop the “Clearfield Transit Oriented Development (TOD) as a partner with UTA.

2013 UTA signs a binding contract with TGC to act as the developer of Clearfield TOD. This contract is the “Operating Agreement”.

Sept. 2015 Two UTA Board members (Chris Bleak and Sheldon Killpack) made an “unauthorized trip to Switzerland as part of a “trade mission” involving various leaders from the Utah Legislature. This trip results in both UTA Board members resigning from the Board, and the Board having to cancel a bidding opportunity to allow a rail company to use UTA facilities to assemble rail cars (Stadler was one of the bidders at the time of the Switzerland visit—Stadler later was awarded this bid). (http://www.deseretnews.com/…/Switzerland-trip-by-lawmakers-…)

2015-2016 Stadler Rail begins a process to look for possible manufacturing locations in Utah for a future rail car construction facility. These locations need to be located on train tracks. At some point (exact date unknown), UTA’s Clearfield TOD land is identified as a potential location.

2016 UTA begins a process to terminate the TGC “Operating Agreement” as principal of TGC.

(Kevin Garn) is a former UTA Board member and has become entangled in controversy surrounding UTA TOD’s and development practices.

2016-2017 UTA, Clearfield, and Stadler begin discussions of possibly purchasing the land currently under contract with TGC for a Stadler Rail facility. The problem is that TGC has a binding contract to be the UTA development partner on this land. TGC says they have a pending apartment project at Clearfield city on this very land and do not want to simply back out of the “Operating Agreement.”

Note: UTA property policies require a public bid when selling property, in order to ensure UTA taxpayers receive the best price and to ensure that no special consideration is given to any single interested party. The UTA circumvents this policy, by deciding to first sell the land to Clearfield City, who will turn around and sell the property to Stadler.

Jan 2017 In preparation to sell the land (which is still currently under contract with TGC—to Clearfield/Stadler, the UTA commissions an appraisal of the land. This appraisal is completed on Feb 8th, and values the land at approximately $3.85/sq. ft.

Feb 2017 Clearfield City commissions its own appraisal that values the same land at approximately $1.25/sq. ft., and make an offer to the UTA to purchase the land at $1.25/sq. ft. Note: the UTA paid $2.02/sq. ft. for the land in 2002.

Feb 2017 The UTA staff recommends that the UTA Board give TGC a parcel of land appraised at $3.1 million (see “2017 02 13 PSA”) to “terminate” their relationship and to “settle” a “possible lawsuit” from TGC if the UTA terminates the “Operating Agreement.” Note: TGC has not filed a lawsuit or threatened a lawsuit, or even filed a “Notice of Claim,” the precursor of a lawsuit. The UTA Board grants approval during the Feb 22, 2017 meeting without any transparency about what took place. There were no documents released to the Board or the public prior to the meeting, there no public mention of giving the land away and the motion to approve the transaction did not disclose any details of what was happening. The motion to approve the giveaway simply stated, “A motion to approve the disposition of the Phase 1B property at the Clearfield Station site on the terms and conditions discussed during closed session was made by Trustee Bartholomew and seconded by Trustee Walker” (Minutes of the UTA Board meeting, Feb 22, 2017, p. 9). The motion passed with all Board members voting “yes,” except Trustee Brent Taylor who stated he would not vote for any land deal without an appraisal and purchase and sale agreement completed for the Board to scrutinize in advance. Because of the secrecy with which the giveaway of property was handled, it was not covered in the media until April 24, 2017 until the Salt Lake Tribune learned about the property given away via a records request and wrote a story (http://www.sltrib.com/…/uta-navigates-transit-project-haunt…).

March 2017 The UTA and TGC reach an agreement to terminate the “Operating Agreement” and TGC’s involvement with the Clearfield TOD. The UTA gives TGC 9.8 acres of land valued at $3,132,000 or approximately $7.00/sq. ft. This land is immediately adjacent to the land appraised by Clearfield City as worth $1.25/sq. ft. and the UTA at $3.86/sq. ft.

The UTA obtains two independent appraisal reviews of Clearfield’s appraisal, which of both blast the appraisal for not meeting the basic requirements of certified appraisals. One of the reviewers wrote, “I do not accept the estimated market value concluded within the appraisal for the fee simple interest in the appraised property based on the information and analysis contained therein . . . . I do not deem the appraisal report under review as having met minimum requirements set forth in Standards 1 and 2 of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) and also consider the report deficient with respect to Utah Transit Authority appraisal requirements.” (“Parsons Brinkerhoff Appraisal Review, 4/13/2017).

April-June 2017 The UTA Board reviews the proposal for sale of the TGC and debates the proposal over several months. UTA staff and Clearfield City agree to get a third appraisal that under conditions determined by the two parties jointly. The UTA Board is promised that this appraisal will be delivered by early June, so that the Board can review it before making a final decision on June 24, 2017.

June 28, 2017 The UTA Board grants “final approval” to sell the land to Clearfield City. This occurs despite not having received the “third” appraisal, despite there not being a set purchase price or sale terms, and despite there not being a completed Purchase and Sale agreement for the Board to review. The Board passes a resolution which grants the CEO/President of UTA to determine all this items entirely on his own, without any further review by the Board. This is because Stadler is “in a hurry” to get this done, and there is not time to wait for the details to be worked out and then go back to the Board for the required and appropriate review.