A Murray official responded Thursday to claims by Granite School District that the city is eroding the district's tax base and snatching up commercial property while leaving adjacent residential areas.
City Council Member Greg Brown said the school district was not well informed on annexation issues currently being considered by Murray and was wrong about the city's annexation policies."The idea that somehow we would purposely erode anybody's tax base just isn't true. There was serious misrepresentation of the facts. Granite District was not informed," Brown said.
He referred to a Tuesday Granite board meeting in which district officials expressed strong concern about a proposal by Murray to annex property south of 54th South that is expected to include a major business/commercial development in the near future. The city, school board members said, has a history of annexing tax-generating property while leaving residential areas that have children attending Granite schools.
Granite officials said they would consider asking the Legislature to consolidate Murray and Granite school districts if the situation continues.
The school board also discussed potential effects on the district if the city annexed property between 54th and 39th South that contains Granite schools. However, Brown said such an annexation is not even being considered by Murray at present.
Brown said two potential annexations are under active consideration. A hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 in Hillcrest Junior High School, 126 E. 53rd South, to allow public comment.
One proposal involves property bounded by the North Jordan Canal on the east, I-215 on the north, Redwood Road on the west and the West Jordan City boundary on the south in a meandering line that follows Winchester Street.
The second involves a tract bounded on the north by 54th South, on the west by Redwood Road, on the south by I-215 and on the east by North Jordan Canal. It is on this tract that the Estes Corp. plans major development.
Granite officials acknowledged they had based their discussion Tuesday on a map contained in a Murray City study, prepared by an independent consultant. The study looks at many possibilities for the future. The map included areas that are not being discussed in Tuesday's hearing.
Carl Christiansen, Granite staff associate, said he told the board areas north of 53rd South are not presently being considered for annexation by Murray. The district is concerned also about the potential for future annexation of unincorporated county areas where they have schools and about protecting the tax base that must support those schools.
"The study is intended to guide city planning for the future," Brown said.
A spate of annexations and incorporation efforts in southwest Salt Lake County has complicated planning for municipalities in the area, he said. Murray put the proposed Estes area annexation on hold this spring while Taylorsville-Bennion residents held an incorporation election, which failed, he said.
Residents and property holders in both areas being considered Tuesday support annexation, he said. On average, the areas had more than 60 percent sign petitions favoring annexation.
Regarding Granite's claims that Murray would realize a significant revenue windfall from commercial development in the proposed annexation area, Brown said estimates of the cost of services the city would have to provide almost match potential tax income.
The city would lose money in property taxes during the development period and would only break even after the development was complete. The break-even would depend on sales tax revenues, which are not part of school district funding.