State audit knocks Inland Port over spending and transparency issues

State auditors agreed with critics of the Utah Inland Port Authority (led by UPHE and the Stop the Polluting Port Coalition) that the port authority has been careless and wasteful in their spending of taxpayer money. It criticized their over use of no-bid contracts, failed in their obligation to be transparent with the public, and worst of all it cited the lack of proper planning.  

Port construction should be halted until appropriate studies and planning is conducted.

In other words, just about everything that state auditors found we have been pointing out for years. UPHE joined other groups in sending out this press release in response.

“Yesterday the Utah Legislative Auditor General’s office released a ‘limited review of the Utah Inland Port Authority’ which found significant systemic problems with how the Port Authority has spent public money. The remedy for this problem is to stop throwing more tax dollars at it, dissolve the Port Authority, and allow management of the area to revert to local governments.

Over the last 4 years the Port Authority has engaged in what the auditors describe as ‘questionable spending’ amounting to between $30-40 million in public dollars used for purposes largely unknown to the public because of the Port Authority’s lack of transparency.  According to the audit, 43 contracts were granted to 29 vendors. 81% of those were no bid contracts. 

The audit also points to a lack of planning, management, and oversight that has led to this questionable spending such as $4.6 million for road improvements benefitting warehouse developers (who already have subsidies from Salt Lake City’s Redevelopment agency). 

For example, we were disturbed to learn that ‘about $2.4 million’ has been paid on a lease for land set aside for a transloading facility.  We know from our research that the Port Authority intends that the property owners construct the $53 million transloading facility– another egregious example of no-bid contract. 

The auditors point out that they need to continue the auditing process to get to the bottom of these many concerns, and we agree.                                                

The bottom line is that the Utah Inland Port Authority is providing corporate welfare for a few private businesses, and not ‘added value’ for Utah taxpayers. It’s time to dissolve the Port Authority before more harm is done.”

More on the audit here.

See some recent op-eds on the Inland Port:

Letter: Inland Port Authority’s no-bid contracts? That’s Utah politics at its basic level.

Letter: Like Syncrete, Inland Port is just another Utah legislated snake oil sale

Langley: The Utah Inland Port Authority Works Against Salt Lake Citizens