Millcreek area residents filled the Skyline High School Auditorium Thursday night to talk with Salt Lake County officials about whether or not Millcreek Township should become a city. The contentious initiative will be on the November ballot.
Residents are trying to get some basic answers. Would incorporation cause taxes to go up or down? It seems many residents have already made up their minds. But not the Hallidays. Peggy Halliday says she and her husband have been to two public meetings and are still undecided.
“There is a lot of conflicting information. The against side has their information that conflicts with the for side," she says. "And it's a little difficult to understand what are facts and what are ' just sell my idea'.”
Phillip Halliday says his decision is coming down to whether or not there is a possibility Millcreek could be annexed.
“I'm not totally convinced whether we can or not," he says. "The one side says being a township that we can't be and the other side says no. And we live right on the border of Holladay. They said usually when you get annexed it's right on the borders and so I'm kind of leaning toward becoming a city so we have more say in our affairs.”
According to county officials, surrounding Murray, South Salt Lake and Holladay say they have no interest in absorbing areas of Millcreek, unless Millcreek residents expressed interest themselves.
Both sides agree a study commissioned by Salt Lake Lake County shows incorporation is technically feasible. But opponents say that doesn't mean it's wise. They say in the first year revenue is about equal to expenses, but for the next five years revenue will fall below expenses. Supporters say those numbers are far too conservative.
Most agree if Millcreek incorporated it would be less expensive to contract with the county for public safety than to provide it's own municipal services. Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder is part of the Unified Police Department command. He says many communities promise their citizens when they incorporate there is no intention of doing so to change public safety.
“Very often, in fact almost universally, one of the first things they do is change public safety," he says. "So the very citizens that voted for the incorporation now will find themselves often times being told we have made a decision to change public safety. Now whether that will happen or not I don't know. My point is, let's take that off the table and have a discussion about governance.”
Winder says those cities who've opted out are in fact paying more for services than those within the district. Voters will have a chance to decide on whether or not to incorporate at the polls November 6th. In addition to the question of whether or not to incorporate, they'll also vote on the form of municipal government under which Millcreek will operate. That includes the number of members on the council and whether or not members are elected by district.