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Unincorporated Salt Lake County Residents Get a Voice Under New Law

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Salt Lake County
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Many residents of unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County are rejoicing after the passage of a bill that settles years of discontent over local boundaries and governance.

The Utah legislature has passed Senate Bill 199, giving residents of unincorporated Salt Lake County several options for making local decisions. If the bill is signed by the governor, voters in unincorporated township areas will be asked this November whether they want to become a city or a so-called metro township. That’s a municipality that has fixed boundaries and a local elected council, but will continue benefiting from a shared tax base.

Rick Riley lives in Emigration Township. He’s been involved in the creation of the legislation and would like his community to become a metro township

“We’re asking for a hybrid form of government,” Riley says. “That’s because it fits our specific needs. It fits the specific needs for 160,000 people.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says unincorporated areas are dying a death by a thousand cuts as high revenue areas are annexed by adjacent cities, shrinking the tax base that funds regional services like snow removal, police and fire.

“They’re going to have some local control over the decisions that affect the nature and character of their neighborhoods,” McAdams says. “But they’ll also still be able to receive the high-quality regional services.” 

People living in unincorporated areas that are not part of a township would vote whether to remain unincorporated or to annex into a city.

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