Annexation has resurfaced as an issue in unincorporated Salt Lake County.
County officials have received two "notices of intent to file annexation petitions," one for a chunk of Millcreek township that would join Holladay, the other for a wedge of land below Little Cottonwood Canyon that would become part of Cottonwood Heights.
Bond money initially intended to build new offices for the Salt Lake County District Attorney will be re-routed to five other projects further along in the development pipeline.
Higher-than-projected costs have kept the District Attorney’s Building in limbo, but the $33 million bond floated by the county for its construction must be put to use before year’s end or the county will face penalties.
So the County Council approved a resolution Tuesday, specifying that portions of the bond are being used to help pay for work already done on plans for the District Attorney’s offices, a new Health Department building, a new fleet shop for maintaining county vehicles, a senior center in Midvale and the purchase of land beneath the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
If the county acts before November 2016, it can purchase that prime downtown property for about $6.4 million, under terms of a contract that had let the county use the land for $1 a year for the past 50 years. Otherwise, the fair market value of the land rises to $21 million.
Once a decision is reached on the District Attorney’s future offices, a separate bond will be issued to cover those costs, county officials have said.
The Millcreek annexation proposal is more advanced. Its advocates, led by real-estate adviser John Bradshaw, have paid Salt Lake County to cover the cost of drafting fliers about the proposal and mailing them to 1,645 residents within and around the perimeter of the area proposed for annexation — from 3900 South to 4500 South between 2700 East and Interstate 215.
That notification must go out in the next 20 days. Advocates then can obtain an annexation petition from Holladay and begin the drive to collect enough signatures to keep the 18-step annexation process moving forward, Deputy County Attorney Melanie Mitchell advised the County Council on Tuesday.
"We have an organization that isn’t completed but is moving along," said Bradshaw, contending people in the proposed annexation area have always thought of themselves as Holladay residents. Joining the city also would reduce the taxes they pay for municipal services, he added.
The prospect of lower city taxes appeals to the many retirees in the largely residential community, Bradshaw said. In addition, it will spare those residents the hassle of going through more divisive incorporation battles in the future.
"We’re all tired of city wars," he said. "We don’t want to go through another election on that incorporation thing that got defeated so soundly. But we don’t want to be frozen out either. Let’s get ahead of the wave. Let’s find out what the feeling of the community is … and what it would take to get annexed into Holladay."
Council members expressed concern that removing this area from Millcreek Township could have big implications for the Unified Police District, Unified Fire Authority and Wasatch Front Waste & Recycling District.
Farther south, retiree Grant Kesler maintains that annexation to Cottonwood Heights also will produce lower taxes for owners of the 38-lot Granite Oaks subdivision. It occupies 80 acres between Wasatch Boulevard and Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, from the tree farm to La Caille restaurant.
"We’ve thought about it for two to three years," said Kesler, adding the tax increase approved by the County Council in December motivated his annexation drive. That tax hike applied to countywide, not municipal, services.
Kimberly Barnett, who coordinates local government relations for the county, said she just received an acceptable map of the proposed incorporation area and will determine the cost of mailing fliers to area property owners.
Kesler then will have to decide whether to pay that tab to get the petition drive going.
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