There has been a great deal of misinformation circulating about a proposal that has been vetted for the past seven months with residents of unincorporated Salt Lake County. After listening to numerous community groups, Mayor Ben McAdams has put together a remarkably effective and efficient improvement to county governance and structure for all the unincorporated areas. From our vantage point, he has been deliberate and methodical in seeking ideas across a wide spectrum of citizens.
Basically, his plan separates valley-wide regional services (unified police, unified fire, road maintenance, aging services, animal services, etc.) from the local municipal services (economic development, sidewalk improvements, planning and zoning, etc.) within the unincorporated areas of the county. Two separate elected government bodies would manage two separate budgets. The municipal services budget would be overseen by elected local representatives from each community within unincorporated Salt Lake County.
Without adding duplicate layers of government bureaucracy — as a new city government does — the mayor has focused county resources on services that benefit from valley-wide economies of scale while putting local communities in control of local issues.
This means that Mt. Olympus, Canyon Rim, East Mill Creek and traditional Millcreek remain as the separate and unique communities that residents value. The beauty of this approach is the retention of elected officials — accountable to their neighbors — to oversee each area: county representatives to manage regional services on the one hand, and local neighborhood government representatives to oversee neighborhood concerns.
His plan has bipartisan legislative support, as well as a vote of support from 70 percent of the community councils in the unincorporated area. Many people that had previously supported the effort to incorporate Millcreek now support this plan for the simple reason that it addresses their concerns.
It’s just common sense to manage our rapidly growing county, as it has increasingly become “wall-to-wall cities,” yet allow local communities to maintain their identities and neighborhood control. Currently, the same planning and zoning rules apply to Copperton, Emigration Canyon and Mt. Olympus Cove. The mayor’s proposal ensures local control by distinct communities minus the extra cost and redundancy of yet another layer of government.
Mayor McAdams has not proposed a “mega-city” that cobbles together the unincorporated areas, contrary to how some vocal critics characterize it. When viewed through a neutral lens, most of us see a good plan that will do what is right for all residents of the unincorporated county.
That is why a majority of us support Mayor McAdams and his “can-do” attitude, helping to end Salt Lake County’s own version of the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys, while saving taxpayers money, cutting red tape and promoting transparency and accountability to how our tax dollars are spent.
Glen Worthington is a lifelong citizen of East Mill Creek and a concerned citizen acting to leverage effective government services. Roger Dudley, also from East Mill Creek, was a leading voice in the recent Millcreek incorporation debate.