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Politics & Government

Should the State Collect an Energy Tax on the NSA Facility in Bluffdale?

Brian Grimmett
The floor of the Utah Senate

Utah Senators reluctantly gave preliminary approval to a bill that would give the NSA data center in Bluffdale an exemption from paying a utility tax.

Sen. Jerry Stevenson’s SB45 limits the ability of the Military Installation Development Authority, or MIDA, to levy an energy tax against the recently constructed NSA data center. He says an agreement to not collect this tax is one of the reasons why they chose to build here and if they don’t pass this bill they won’t be living up to their commitment.

“I feel like through a year of negotiations we’ve gotten to that point and those lines were part of the impetus of the bill," Stevenson says. "And they’re very important and I think that it’s important that we stick with the commitment that we’ve made. I’ve been convinced of that through the process.”

But other Senators, including Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, say they never made any promises.

“I don’t remember that I made any commitments to giving tax subsidies to a spy center,” he says.

Sena. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake, says because they can’t collect property taxes on federal property the energy tax is the only way the state will ever really benefit from the building.

“The feds spent a billion dollars for the spy center here," Dabakis says. "We get very little out of that. It’s only 200 jobs. The least they can do is drop off $6 million.”

The Senate will make a final vote on the bill in the next few days. Sen. Stevenson says he has quite a bit of work to do to get the support needed to pass the bill. 

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