Millcreek incorporation headed to November ballot
Millcreek Township residents will have a chance to form Salt Lake County's 17th city this November.
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said Thursday that backers of creating a city of nearly 64,000 residents have secured more than enough registered voters' signatures to put the issue on the general-election ballot.
"We're excited to have this opportunity to vote, to finally have a voice," said Mary Ann Strong, who helped spearhead the petition drive to put the incorporation measure before voters of the township's four communities Millcreek, Canyon Rim, East Millcreek and Mount Olympus.
"If we incorporate, we'll control our own municipal services and we'll keep our tax money here," said Strong, a leader of the Future of Millcreek Association. "We've been subsidizing the other parts of unincorporated Salt Lake County."
Opponents contend incorporation will lead to higher taxes, pointing to a feasibility study conducted last year by Lewis Young Robertson & Burningham Inc.. The report said incorporation was feasible, but projected that within five years, owners of a $220,000 home could face a tax increase of $17 annually.
Swensen said the clerk's office certified that 6,847 of the 8,293 signatures collected by incorporation supporters were valid. In addition, petition carriers collected signatures from at least 10 percent of the registered voters in 48 of Millcreek's 51 voting precincts. That percentage of signatures was required in at least 46 voting precincts.
Strong said incorporation supporters now will try to educate the township's populace about "how much better it will be to have the people making the decisions be people who live here."
She also said city status would enable Millcreek residents to sit down with officials from the Utah Department of Transportation and the Wasatch Front Regional Council "to fix our own roads and deal with our infrastructure."
Salt Lake County officials try to be careful to maintain a neutral position on incorporations, extolling the virtue of self-determination.
But ever since the valley's incorporation movement took off in the late 1970s, the county was seen as the primary foe of municipal expansion, in part because of the impacts on communities that are still unincorporated.
The feasibility study noted that creating Millcreek City could have significant repercussions in Magna and Kearns, the largest remaining unincorporated communities.
"We don't want [Millcreek incorporation] to happen," said Magna Community Council President Dan Peay. "We like it the way it is. We don't have the tax base to incorporate and don't want to be scooped up by West Valley City or Salt Lake City."
Population • Nearly 64,000, which would be the valley's fifth-largest city
Area • 41.2 square miles, second only to Salt Lake City
Population per square mile • 1,542. Salt Lake City's is 1,687. Taylorsville's is 5,411.
Taxable value • $4 billion, 34 percent of value in unincorporated Salt Lake County
Source • 2011 Feasibility Study for the Millcreek Township Incorporation