Skip to main content

South Valley Journal

Government 101: Redevelopment Agency

Sep 27, 2021 12:38PM ● By Erin Dixon

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

What is an RDA, or Redevelopment Agency? Most Salt Lake County cities have one. Each agency has a single goal: Bring neglected parts of the city back to life.

Why would a city invest time and money, rather than leave development up to the economy? 

Cody Hill, Midvale RDA manager, explained during a discussion about the Midvale Main Street project. “The basic philosophy is you have an area that is not growing for whatever reason. We can do nothing, and we’ll get the same tax dollars.”

If the city puts in money and effort to rebuild the area, the tax income will increase. City assistance can also help reduce crime, attract new jobs, improve roads and utilities and in turn stimulate private investment in homes and surrounding areas. 

Council and staff find a “blighted” area they want to rebuild. They define the borders, and research costs and potential benefits a revival would have. Before a project is started, a public hearing is held, then the council votes to open the project and begins working. 

The RDA decision makers are the city council members, but meetings are held separately from city council meetings. Meetings are typically on the same day as a council meeting. The council will adjourn the city council and reopen as RDA. The RDA has a separate budget and does not collect taxes like the city government.  

The RDA gets its money from nearby taxing entities (organizations that collect taxes) such as the city, school districts, water conservation districts, libraries, etc. Each entity collects taxes from residents and businesses in its area. A taxing entity will promise the RDA a portion of what they collect over a future period of time, for instance, 5, 10 or 20 years. All the taxing entities benefit from this agreement because as areas are improved, there is more tax money to collect from increased active businesses and residents. Overall, all groups benefit. 

The RDA is also able to issue bonds to bring in money. A bond is a term-specific loan to the city that is paid by investors that the RDA pays back in the future

Canyons School District, Unified Fire Authority, Midvale City and South Salt Lake Valley Mosquito Abatement District all contributed some of their income to fund the reconstruction of the Midvale Main Street area. The property is currently worth $53 million. Each taxing entity that is diverting some of their future funds will get more money as the property values increase with the development.

“If [they] will funnel 60% of the increased value over $53 million, we can increase the total taxable cost in this area,” Hill said. “They’ll get 40% of the increased value, which is projected to cover growth. Once that cap is hit, the school district will get 100%.”

Other areas currently have RDAs, such as Draper and South Salt Lake. Draper has a 69-acre project called Sand Hills near 1300 East and Draper Parkway. 

According to the Draper City website, ‘The original purpose of the Sand Hills Project Area was to stabilize and strengthen the commercial business and economic base of the City.’ 

South Salt Lake is working on a project just north of I-80 and south of 2100 South. The new South city mixed-use project is in the zone, getting financing from the Zueller Apartments that were developed five to 10 years ago. 

South Salt Lake also has a project along 3900 South, east of State Street. Basically, they are using the power of the RDA to bring mixed-use projects.


City Journals writer Bill Hardesty also contributed to this report.