September 19, 2008
Officials Want Millcreek Residents to Vote on Township Status
By Rebecca Palmer Deseret News
A handful of city and county officials discussing the future of Salt Lake County townships wants to single out Millcreek for a special election in two years to ask residents to vote on whether their area to remain a township.
They made their proposal Thursday at a meeting convened by Salt Lake County, at the county offices. Other city and county officials, mainly from the Salt Lake Valley's west side, would like all of the townships to remain as they are. They proposed repealing a 2005 law that would dissolve the township boundaries in 2010.
A survey mandated by the 2005 law did not produce clear results in regard to the Millcreek, although the survey was sufficient for every other area in the county, said Holladay Council Member Lynn Pace, who led the charge for an election. His group wants a yes-or- no vote in 2010 on whether Millcreek residents want to be in a township.
Members of the opposing camp said the survey was clear enough, and Millcreek shouldn't be treated differently than any other area.
The survey was finalized in August by the Center for Public Policy at the University of Utah. The study found that more than half of township residents countywide want their areas to remain townships.
In Millcreek, only 49 percent of residents preferred the township over annexation, incorporation or boundary dissolution.
But Pace said that was not a large enough percentage to warrant making Millcreek a permanent legal township.
"The survey doesn't have the legitimacy to put the issue to bed," he said.
The Utah League of Cities and Towns agrees, said Lincoln Shurtz, the league's director of legislative affairs.
"The problem is, you don't have conclusive information, and you're making a decision on it," he said, adding that the league would put up a fight in the Legislature against a bill that would leave all the townships as they are.
Pace denied claims that Holladay wants to annex Millcreek, saying that would "sink the boat" of Holladay by creating additional financial burdens.
Rep. Phil Riesen, D-Salt Lake, is in favor of holding off on legislation until the stakeholders agree on a solution.
"If you can find a consensus about something, it's much easier to get it done than putting boxing gloves on and fighting it out," he said.
Riesen also said the Senate was very unlikely to approve a general vote on the townships, because lawmakers expected the 2005 legislation to solve the townships issue.
Both camps of city and county officials plan to propose solutions to a working group in three weeks. The smaller group will then report to the officials, who will make a recommendation to the Legislature.
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