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ABOUT THE RDA
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WHAT WE DO   |   WHO WE ARE   |   GOVERNANCE   |   FINANCES   |   ANNUAL REPORTS   |   AUDITS
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WHAT WE DO

OUR MISSION + VALUES

The mission of the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) is to revitalize neighborhoods and business districts to improve livability, spark economic growth, and foster authentic communities, serving as a catalyst for strategic development projects that enhance the City’s housing opportunities, commercial vitality, public spaces, and environmental sustainability.

We foster a set of core values that collectively support the revitalization of Salt Lake City’s communities:
ECONOMIC GROWTH
We act as a responsible steward of public funds, taking a long-term view of investment, return, and property values.
COMMUNITY IMPACT
We prioritize projects and programs that demonstrate commitment to improving equity and quality of life for residents and businesses in Salt Lake City.
NEIGHBORHOOD VIBRANCY
We cultivate distinct and livable built environments that are contextually sensitive, resilient, connected, and sustainable.

 

WHAT IS A REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY?
A redevelopment agency, often called an “RDA,” is an entity used by local government to implement the development goals of communities, with the added benefit of increasing the area’s/city’s tax base.
RDAs assist communities in addressing three types of development issues:
• Redevelopment: Encourage private and public investment in areas that are experiencing disinvestment or neglect.
• Housing Development: Increase the amount and variety of housing that meets the unique needs of neighborhoods.
• Economic Development: Assist in development that yields additional job opportunities in the community.

 

WHY ARE RDAS USED?
Traditionally, RDAs have been established by cities as urban areas grow older and begin to experience deterioration. These conditions result in a decrease in the assessed property value, leading to reduced property tax collections for cities and all other taxing entities, such as school districts, counties, libraries, and public utilities.
This decrease in tax base drives further disinvestment that, in turn, promotes a cycle of degeneration. RDAs intervene to break this cycle by:
Facilitating redevelopment of underutilized property through acquisition, clearance, re-planning, and/or sale;
Investing in core infrastructure, such as utilities, streets, lighting, and/or curbs/sidewalks; and
Providing gap financing in the form of loans, reimbursements, and property discounts to encourage private investment.
The RDA invests in projects and programs that are designed to spur additional growth, allowing disinvested areas to be reestablished as livable, economically productive centers for business and social activity.

 

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WHO WE ARE

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Chief Operating Officer
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Project Manager
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Project Manager
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Office Facilitator
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Deputy Chief Operating Officer
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Project Manager
White Pine Dental Staff
Communications & Outreach Manager
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Office Facilitator
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Senior Project Manager
White Pine Dental Staff
Project Manager
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Property Manager
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Senior Project Manager
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Project Manager

GOVERNANCE

The RDA Board of Directors (Board) is comprised of the seven members of the City Council of Salt Lake City. The Board is given policy-making authority for the RDA, while the Mayor serves as the Executive Director. The Redevelopment Advisory Committee (RAC) advises the Board on RDA policy.

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Mayor Erin Mendenhall

 

ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Ben Kolendar

 

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Danny Walz

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Amy Fowler, Chair

Ana Valdemoros, Vice Chair

Dan Dugan, Director

Andrew Johnston, Director

Darin Mano, Director

James Rogers, Director

Chris Wharton, Director

**BOD agendas and minutes**

 

REDEVELOPMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Dale Christiansen, Chair

Lance Dunkley, Vice Chair

Brian Doughty

Jason Head

Mark Isaac

Claudia O’Grady

Mojdeh Sakaki

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FINANCES

FUNDING: TAX INCREMENT

The financial engine that drives an RDA’s urban renewal efforts is tax increment financing. Tax increment is the increase (or “increment”) in the property taxes generated within a project area, over and above property taxes generated in that same area prior to the establishment of the RDA project area. The establishment of a project area and the collection of tax increment funds must be approved by the RDA Board of Directors and the local taxing entities (school district, library, water districts, county, etc.).

The tax increment generated in a project area is reinvested into that same project area, thus recycling the funds for a specified period of time, usually 20-25 years, after which the tax increment will again be available to the local taxing entities. During the life of the project area, the taxing entities continue to receive the same amount of property taxes that they received prior to the establishment of the project area, along with any share of the increment they may have negotiated with the RDA.

Improved redevelopment project areas contribute to the overall health and vitality of the city by reversing the negative effects of blight, while increasing the tax base from which the taxing entities draw their funds. In Salt Lake City, Redevelopment Project Areas’ tax bases have historically grown at twice the rate of surrounding areas that are not designated as RDA project areas.

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ANNUAL AUDITS AND DOCUMENTS

UNDERSTANDING THE AUDIT

The RDA is required by Utah Code Section 17C-1-604 to conduct, approve, and publish an independent audit of its financial condition. The primary purpose of this audit is to report the amount of tax increment collected by the RDA for each project area; the amount of tax increment paid to each taxing entity; the outstanding principal amount of bonds or loans; the amount expended for acquisition of property, site improvements, public utilities, or other public improvements; and the RDA’s administrative costs. While the last few pages of the audit provide some information on a project area basis, the majority of the audit combines revenues and expenses from all RDA activities.

While the audit serves these functions well, the final report does not reflect many of the nuances of the RDA’s finances. In the past, this has caused confusion among those reading the audit without a full understanding of other RDA-related obligations and requirements.

In particular, the audit’s reference to “unrestricted cash,” without explanation, can be misleading. The term “unrestricted,” while having a very specific meaning in accounting parlance, carries an unfortunate implication that the funds are completely available for any purpose, which is not the case. There are three primary limitations on the use of “unrestricted cash” by the RDA:

1. PAYMENT OF DEBT SERVICE AND TAX INCREMENT REIMBURSEMENTS THROUGH PREVIOUS AGREEMENTS.

Some of the funds included in the total dollar figure represented as “unrestricted cash” are already committed through various contracts and agreements the RDA has executed. For example, the RDA periodically enters tax-increment reimbursement agreements with private developers, whereby a portion of the increased property taxes associated with a particular development will be refunded to that developer, in exchange for the developer’s provision of some public benefit, such as structured public parking, restoration of an historic building, or creation of public spaces or plazas. The funds for payment of this obligation must be budgeted each year, and, until the payment is made, those funds remain in our accounts as “unrestricted cash.” Technically, the RDA Board could elect to spend those funds for some other purpose, but doing so would entail defaulting on the RDA’s agreement with that developer. Likewise, the RDA sometimes enters Interlocal Agreements with other agencies, such as Salt Lake City, that obligate it to make ongoing payments totaling a certain amount. The funds for those payments remain as “unrestricted cash” until the payment is made.

2. PROJECT AREA RESTRICTIONS

The annual audit treats all of the RDA’s funds as a single account. But state law requires that funds generated in an RDA project area be spent within the boundaries of that area, subject to a few narrow exceptions. Therefore, while the total pooled cash of the RDA is characterized by the audit as “unrestricted,” it is, in fact, available only to be spent in the project area where it was generated. The RDA carefully tracks the funds collected by the project area of origin, and treats each project area as a separate and distinct account, ensuring that funds generated from a particular area are expended only within that area. While the RDA’s budget process described above clearly allocates expenditures by project area, the annual audit does not make this distinction, sometimes creating the inaccurate impression that the full cash balances of the RDA could be spent on a single project in a single project area.

3. ALLOCATIONS OVER TIME — SAVINGS-BASED APPROACH.

Another detail that is not articulated in the annual audit is the RDA’s practice of budgeting funds for large projects over time, and then paying cash for the projects when sufficient funds are accumulated to proceed. This savings-based, or cash-based approach is very conservative, and enables the RDA to tackle large infrastructure projects without having to assume debt. Because tax increment proceeds are often viewed by banks as unpredictable, borrowing against future revenues is often not possible, and, even if possible, loans are not offered on favorable terms. Therefore, the RDA’s established practice and policy is to allocate funds as available a little at a time.

This process of accumulating funds for a project often leads to large cash balances in RDA accounts. A good example is the repair and renovation of the Gallivan Utah Center. Beginning in the early 2000s, the RDA anticipated that in approximately 2008-2010, the RDA would need to undertake significant repairs and renovations to the Gallivan Utah Center. Beginning in 2006, the RDA Board allocated funds each year to be saved for that renovation project, ultimately accumulating the more than $7 million needed to complete the design and construction. Those funds were always characterized by the audit as “unrestricted cash.” Again, the saved amounts could technically be allocated by the Board for some other use, but doing so would reduce or eliminate the funds needed for the renovation and repair project.

2010 RDA Audit

2011 RDA Audit

2012 RDA Audit

2013 RDA Audit

2014 RDA Audit

2015 RDA Audit

2016 RDA Audit

2017 RDA Audit

2018 RDA Audit

2019 RDA Audit