Salt Lake County clerk certifying signatures for ‘Milcreek City’
By Mike Gorrell
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Feb 24 2014 05:06PM
The Salt Lake County clerk’s office has begun reviewing petitions submitted by Millcreek City backers in hopes of getting incorporation on the ballot again.
But their desire for a November election to decide whether to make the east central community the valley’s 16th city is still up in the air because it conflicts with legislation introduced last week that would freeze the boundaries of the county’s unincorporated areas where they were on Jan. 1, 2014.
Dahnelle Burton-Lee, elections division chief in the county clerk’s office, said Millcreek proponents submitted their final incorporation petitions Friday, completing a process that began last fall.
Working with the county assessor, the clerk’s office is now going through the laborious process of ensuring petition signers own 10 percent of the private land in Millcreek, property worth at least 7 percent of the area’s total value.
That procedure is unlikely to be completed before state lawmakers address SB216, sponsored by Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City. It is being considered at 4 p.m. Tuesday by the Senate Business and Labor Committee.
Her bill would create a new form of county government that would allow the remaining pockets of unincorporated Salt Lake County to become a municipality, even though they are not contiguous.
That process would begin with a citizens’ petition drive or, more likely, passage of a resolution by the Salt Lake County Council to hire a consultant to analyze the concept’s feasibility.
Once that study is done, the measure would go before voters from Emigration Canyon, Millcreek, Granite, White City, Magna, Kearns and Copperton. Those communities have roughly 150,000 residents, which would make it the state’s second-largest city.
If approved, the city would have a council-manager form of government, although the county mayor would have veto power over council actions.
The legislation specifies that once the feasibility study is launched, other incorporation or annexation plans filed after Jan. 1, 2014, would be suspended until after voters decide on the broader unincorporated-area plan, promoted by County Mayor Ben McAdams as the "Community Preservation Project."
That provision would put Millcreek on hold, to the dismay of city proponent MaryAnn Matheson Strong.
"It will effectively invalidate over 4,000 signatures Millcreek residents have given to put incorporation back on the ballot," she said, referring to a 2012 vote in which 58 percent of area voters rejected the idea of becoming a city.
"Many residents who voted against incorporation the last time have expressed regret that they did not understand the issues more clearly," Strong added. "They are solidly behind incorporation now.
"We believe in self-determination," she concluded. "We want to be our own Millcreek City, not part of a city spread out all over Salt Lake County."