Making Bennion a city is feasible, a new study says, and Salt Lake County commissioners will conduct public hearings and then decide whether to call an incorporation election for the area's 20,000 residents.

Commissioners have tentatively scheduled public hearings for Dec. 8 and Dec. 21. They will decide within two weeks following the hearings whether to call a vote for sometime late next spring.The earliest date the 4.5-square-mile area could become the Salt Lake Valley's newest city would be July 1990.

The study, conducted by Phase II Consulting, says incorporation is "certainly feasible." Bennion generates more than enough tax revenue to cover the cost of providing services and has a relatively strong sales tax base, the study says.

Taxes for the average Bennion household could drop as much as $47 annually if residents approve incorporation and the city contracts with the county or a neighboring city to provide municipal services.

However, household taxes on average could go up as much as $187 per year if Bennion City were to provide those services for its residents, the study says.

There are other factors that would determine just how much taxes could go up or down should Bennion incorporate, including, the specific boundaries of the proposed city as set by commissioners; local business growth; and whether the state turns over to cities an additional locally generated sales tax revenue as scheduled in 1990.

The incorporation petition proposes Bennion boundaries generally from 54th South on the north; West Jordan on the south, Murray on the east; and 40th West on the west. The study examined that boundary configuration and two other slight variations.

In all three scenarios, taxes for Bennion residents would generally drop if city services are provided through contracts with another government entity but would generally increase if Bennion provides its own services.

Last March, voters in Taylorsville-Bennion defeated a proposal to make that area a city, but Bennion residents secured enough signatures on a new incorporation petition to bring the matter before the county again.

The Bennion area provides Salt Lake County with about $2.7 million in tax revenue annually, while it costs the county about $2.5 million to provide services to the area.

Because the county would lose that surplus revenue if Bennion incorporates, it would have to cut municipal service delivery expenses by $200,000 or raise taxes for households remaining in the unincorporated county to balance that budget. The study estimated the possible tax burden increase at between $5 and $9 annually for a $70,000 home in the unincorporated county.

If an election were called and voters rejected incorporation, there is no guarantee the status quo would be maintained, the study says. Not only could county services be reduced or tax rates raised, but various parts of Bennion could be annexed to West Valley City, Murray and South Jordan - all of which have included parts of the proposed city in their annexation declarations.