If you're drinking Sandy water, chances are you'll soon be washed onto the city's tax rolls.
Sandy City has unveiled a comprehensive plan to annex several of the unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County it now services with water and fire protection. City officials said people who join the city likely will pay higher taxes but smaller water bills.Some county officials are worried Sandy's plans may be little more than a land grab. But Sandy planners say they are just trying to make their city whole.
"We are trying to make a total community, not land grab for a tax base," said Sandy City Planner George Shaw. "The city boundary and the service area go together. We are just trying to match the two. And we are doing it within the state statutes."
County leaders want to hear the reasoning behind any annexation move before they'll agree not to try to halt the expansion.
"If our mission is to be territorial and the job we do as mayor is measured by how far we expand the city, then I think we have problems," said County Commission Chairman Jim Bradley.
Bradley said the county and cities have to cooperate to provide services, even if service boundaries sometimes overlap.
"Logical expansion is OK," Bradley said. "If they can show that this will make for better service delivery, then I'll be the first one behind it. But I really don't understand expansion for expansion's sake."
Granite Community Council members, representing an unincorporated area bordering Sandy, recently asked the County Commission to stop Sandy's "aggressive annexation" of unincorporated areas - particularly theirs.
Granite officials opposed Sandy annexation of an undeveloped area known as the Ridge, 2200 East between10700 South and Dimple Dell Road. But the county didn't oppose that annexation.
The county "would have a hard time going into the boundary commission straight-faced opposing the Ridge's annexation," said Sandy Mayor Larry Smith. "It's an area of Sandy City that is served by the city water system, with fire protection."
Smith said none of the proposed annexations will give Sandy a financial boost.
"Ninety-five out of 100 annexations that Sandy is involved with have a negative economic impact on the city," he said. "Almost all of the annexations that we do are residential property."
He said that on the average, it costs the city three times as much to service residential property as residential property produces in taxes.
The city has a dual pricing structure for water. People who live outside the city limits pay more than do Sandy residents.
"Any of those areas that are being serviced by Sandy City water will have an economic cost advantage by being in the city. What little bit of tax increase they will have with Sandy taxes, compared to the unincorporated taxes will be more than offset by the lower cost of water."
Smith said Sandy's bread and butter comes in commercial centers - primarily retail centers.
"To my knowledge we have never annexed anything that's already been an operating business in the county."
That's not to say Sandy hasn't tried.
Residents of White City, an unincorporated island in the middle of Sandy, successfully fought the city's attempt to annex a commercial corner in their area. The battle, which resulted in a lawsuit between the county and Sandy, will be settled at the County Boundary Commission on Wednesday.
To annex or not to annex . . .
Areas that Sandy would annex if petitioned to:
- Several islands inside the city - with the exception of White City. Most are residential areas that existed before Sandy was incorporated.
- Union-Jordan area (State Street to 1300 East and north to I-215.) Most areas are developed.
- Little Cottonwood Basin Area (north bluff of Little Cottonwood Creek Valley.) Sandy made an agreement with Salt Lake City it would not annex north of Little Cottonwood Creek Road.
- Dimple Dell Park area (near 10500 South from 1300 East to 3100 East.)
- Granite area (mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, near 3500 East and 9800 South).