A subcommittee of the Utah Legislature is concerned that the governor-appointed Intermountain Port Authority board is not fulfilling its charge to study whether the state should establish an inland port authority.
Representatives of the board were scheduled to address the subcommittee Wednesday, but Dan Mabey of the Department of Community and Economic Development was the only person to make a presentation to the panel."This is a governor's appointment these people have accepted. I do think we're entitled to have them come to our meeting," said Sen. Ron Ockey, R-Salt Lake, chairman of the Legislature's Economic Development Interim Committee.
The 19-member board was established by the Utah Legislature in 1991 under a bill sponsored by Ockey. The bill provided $100,000 to study the feasibility of establishing a port authority. If the panel determines the state needs a port authority, it also is charged with creating a business plan to develop it.
Mabey said there has been poor attendance at port authority meetings.
"We have not had good participation from the board. It's been quite difficult to get a quorum," Mabey told the legislators.
Mike Gallegos, a board member representing Salt Lake County, was in the audience and concurred with Mabey. "There has not been a cohesiveness or a commitment to the board until recently," he said.
Ockey said perhaps the Legislature should reconsider its commitment to the port authority. Only about $14,000 of the $100,000 appropriation approved for the study during the 1991 session has been spent thus far.
"This hasn't been moving along very well in terms of making a report to the Legislature. It may be because it's a bad idea from the start," Ockey said. But he said legislators need to be assured "there has been a fair and objective look at the opportunities that may exist."
Ockey said, "If the answer is this isn't working, let's pull the plug and so be it.
Rep. David Jones, D-Salt Lake, suggested that the subcommittee ask the governor to send a "friendly letter" to board members reminding them of the report deadline and original intent of the legislation.