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It's decision time for Millcreek township residents

Published: Saturday, Nov. 3 2012 4:43 p.m. MDT

Motorists drive on 3300 South in Millcreek Township Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. Millcreek Township incorporation will be on the November 2012 ballot.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

MILLCREEK — Residents of four communities will decide Tuesday whether Millcreek township should become Utah's 10th largest city.

Residents of Canyon Rim, East Millcreek, Millcreek and Olympus Cove are being asked to choose between establishing a city or remaining under the Salt Lake County Council. They're also being asked to select a form of government should voters decide to incorporate the township.

Those in favor of incorporation say Millcreek, home to some 63,000 people, needs to become a city because it needs more say in its future development and to get a better handle on fees and taxes.

Opponents say the current system isn't broken. Salt Lake County does a good job of providing municipal services to the township and people receive ample representation on the County Council by one representative that lives in the area, in addition to three at-large members of the nine-member County Council.

Advertising executive Tom Love, who has lived in the township 16 years, is so dead set against the incorporation movement that he and his business Love Communications have donated more than half of the funds to fight the ballot question, according disclosures filed with the state elections office.

Love Communications and its president, Tom Love, contributed a combined $17,840 to the effort to defeat the ballot initiative. Most of the contributions were financial, although $2,000 were categorized as in-kind donations, according to the report.

Love said he is so committed to the cause of preserving the township that he offered to front the money so the campaign could meet deadlines to book billboard space, order mailers and print lawn signs.

His opposition boils down to this: "I don't want more government, more people meddling in my life, and I don't want those people (those behind incorporation) in control," he said.

As for being the largest donor on either side of the question, Love said it was a practical matter of meeting deadlines. "I'm flattered if anyone thinks I'm a super PAC. We're really a total grassroots effort," he said.

Total contributions to the political issues committee Protect and Preserve Our Millcreek Townships as of Oct. 30, were about $28,900. To date, about $23,200 has been spent by the campaign, mostly for signs, campaign literature, mailers and billboards.

Backers of the question, which would create the fifth largest city in Salt Lake County, have contributed about $41,200, spending nearly $40,900 according to a state report dated Oct. 30. One individual donor, John W. Champion, Jr. contributed $5,600. Jeff and Jemina Keller contributed $2,300, while Jeff Silvestrini and Kristine Eccles contributed $1,000 each. The rest were smaller individual contributions ranging from $10 to $700.

Silvestrini, longtime chairman of the Mount Olympus Community Council, said he believes the township would fare better in terms of controlling taxes and managing planning and zoning functions by forming its own municipal government. 

Holladay City, for instance, pays less for law enforcement services than residents of the unincorporated county, who are assessed property tax by a law enforcement special district. Holladay contracts for its service, which is also provided by Unified Police Department.

"Is Millcreek getting a higher level of service? Is it an efficient delivery model, or are we paying more than our share? If we had our own government, we would explore that," Silvestrini said.

Retaining the services of the UPD and the Unified Fire Authority was the primary reason Love got involved with the campaign to preserve the township, he said.

If Millcreek became a city it would be able to explore other options for services or obtain them on a contract basis from existing providers. 

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