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Unincorporated Residents to Settle Boundary, Governance Battle This Election

Salt Lake County

Salt Lake County is asking residents of unincorporated areas to decide on Election Day whether to become a city or a “metro township”.

The outcome of this election is expected to help relieve years of unrest in communities like Millcreek, where residents tried in 2012 to become a city. That measure failed.

Now, Salt Lake County Township Executive Patrick Leary says a new form of government called a “metro township” would ensure boundaries are frozen and taxpayers have a say on local decisions even if they decide not to become a city.

“County government as we know it actually will be getting out of the business of this, but the service delivery will benefit from that shared services,” Leary says. “That’s really the crux of the matter for us.”

A metro township allows communities to elect a city council and continue using county municipal services like snow removal, but it can’t levy taxes. A city must rely on its own tax base to provide services or contract with the county.

Hugh Matheson is with a group that advocates for Millcreek to become a city. He says either way it’s a great step forward for Millcreek and the other townships because they’ll have more autonomy, but…

“We prefer city because cities work well, and cities give local people, local power over local issues,” Matheson says.

“The message of leave us alone, if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it resonates,” says Roger Dudley.

He’s with a group that would like Millcreek to become a metro township. Dudley worries the community doesn’t have the tax base to support itself.

Residents still have time to cast a vote. Mail-in-ballots can be dropped off at polling locations on Election Day. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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