MILLCREEK — Even as the votes were tallied and the possibility of defeat was becoming apparent, some backers of Millcreek incorporation were contemplating another attempt to place the matter before voters in the future.
"We need to have a legal entity. By incorporating, we give ourselves a voice in the issues that come up in the community," Mary Ann Strong, an incorporation proponent, said Tuesday night.
"There's a new day tomorrow. We'll have to try again."
Newly elected county leaders say the takeaway of the defeat of the incorporation vote is that the administration and Salt Lake County Council need to ensure that people in Millcreek Township receive due representation and that steps are taken to further cut the costs of services.
Salt Lake County Mayor-elect Ben McAdams said he intentionally took no position on the question, which would have created the fifth largest city in the county. But he committed to work to ensure a smooth transition if voters decided to establish a city or take steps to help control costs if they remained in unincorporated Salt Lake County.
"I want the community to know I will do everything I can to make them feel their interests are represented," McAdams said. "I have an open-door policy. I plan to be very visible as mayor. I'm anxious to be their mayor."
McAdams said he particularly wants to move forward with proposals to further consolidate services such as public works and animal services. An analysis by Zions Bank, the county's financial adviser, suggests the per-household cost of animal services could be cut by half by consolidating services.
All stakeholders could experience lower costs through "economies of scale."
Sam Granato, elected to represent County Council District 4, which encompasses much of the Millcreek Township, opposed the incorporation effort.
However, Granato said he had developed such amicable working relationships with the two leaders of opposing camps that both men had endorsed his bid for County Council.
"I think that gave a strong message I can bring people together," he said.
People in Millcreek Township need a break from the divisiveness of the incorporation debate, Granato said. One of his immediate goals is to help people close ranks and to be a strong advocate for the council district.
"I want to be a voice of reason and have common sense," Granato said Wednesday.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said it was regrettable that the Unified Police Department was a pawn in the political fight over incorporation because he believes "the vast majority of people who use our services support our services."
Moving forward, elected officials throughout the county need to take part in conversations about how to best provide services and contain costs.
"Now we can quit talking about what patch is whose patch and talk about how we're going to improve services," Winder said. "As the leader of the county, (McAdams) needs to have some real conversations about what the county is going to look like in five to 10 years."
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