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Utah Lawmakers at Odds Over How Much State Will Benefit from Prison Move

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The state Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst released a report Tuesday that shows the tax revenue and economic benefits anticipated from moving the prison is a fraction of what a consulting firm initially projected. Republican State Representative Merrill Nelson requested the study. He says it corrects a number of assumptions.

“The big assumption they made was that this would be new uncontested development as if it dropped out of the sky with no competitors and would come only if the prison moved and only on that spot of ground,” Nelson says.

Nelson hopes the study causes the commission considers keeping the prison in Draper. 

Soon after Nelson’s study was released Tuesday, the office released another study that shows if the current site is redeveloped specifically as a high tech corridor, the industry would generate more money than was initially anticipated. Republican Representative Brad Wilson requested that study. He’s also a member of the Prison Relocation Commission.

“If the property in Draper is redeveloped in a wise and prudent way the potential impact in terms of tax revenue and jobs and economic development for the state is just really significant,” Wilson says. “On the other hand, if we do it in an irresponsible way, there’s not a whole lot of benefit.”

A number of reports are expected to be finalized and released to the commission in the coming weeks detailing the strengths and weaknesses of the final four site recommendations. Two of those sites are in Northern Utah County, one in Tooele and one in Salt Lake City near the airport. 

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