Residents of Bennion will have to wait two more weeks for Salt Lake County commissioners to decide whether to call a special incorporation election that could make the community of 20,000 a city.
Commissioners held a second public hearing on a Bennion incorporation petition Wednesday and by law now have 14 days to decide whether to call the election for next spring.Following the hearing, commissioners allowed outgoing Commissioner John Hiskey - who will finish his term of office Jan. 3, before a decision on the special election is made - to voice his concerns on creating a new city.
Hiskey urged commissioners to exercise caution in considering the incorporation petition. He also encouraged backers of Bennion incorporation to allow the county to study incorporation in the context of a broader issue - how to most efficiently provide municipal services to the 270,000 people living in unincorporated areas of urban Salt Lake County.
"I'm not sure cities of 20,000 residents are the answer," Hiskey said. "At that rate we'd have to create 10 more cities. Wouldn't it be beneficial to step back and try to resolve the broader issue?"
But state law appears to limit to one the reasons for which counties can refuse to call an incorporation vote: a withdrawal of the incorporation petition by a majority of the petition signers. There has been no indication Bennion incorporation proponents are willing to withdraw their petition.
That means commissioners may oppose holding an election - which would be scheduled just one year after voters in Taylorsville-Bennion rejected incorporation - but be forced to call a vote anyway to comply with state law.
Last March, Taylorsville-Bennion voters turned thumbs down on an effort to make that area of 40,000 residents a city. But Bennion residents gathered sufficient signatures on a subsequent incorporation petition that has boundaries of the proposed city redrawn to include only Bennion.
Opponents of Bennion incorporation speaking Wednesday said that the new city would certainly slap a 6 percent franchise tax on residents' utility bills and that projected first-year revenues of $2.7 million would fall short of estimated city start-up costs of $3.1 million.
A Kearns Town Council representative also protested the "encroachment" of proposed Bennion City boundaries into parts of Kearns. The proposed city has a limited tax base and isn't feasible unless it snatches desirable commercial areas from other unincorporated communities, opponents charged.
But incorporation backers countered that a special election would not waste taxpayers' money because Bennion voted solidly in favor of incorporation last March. Proponents also cited a feasibility study that said the city has a good tax base and that Bennion City residents could enjoy lower property taxes.