Bennion incorporation foes are vowing to organize and work to defeat a May ballot measure that could make the south-central Salt Lake Valley community a new city of nearly 20,000.
Incorporation opponents will face not only a fight against the well organized backers of the Bennion City proposal, but the ignorance and possible apathy of Bennion residents - many of whom don't understand why incorporation is being voted on again so soon after voters rejected it last year."We're not organized yet, but we're trying to organize so we can defeat this (incorporation attempt)," said incorporation opponent Richard Kniss. "Many people are simply uninterested in another incorporation vote. They're saying `we just had an (incorporation) election, so why have another one?' "
Voters in Taylorsville-Bennion rejected an attempt to incorporate the area as a city of 40,000 last March. An earlier Taylorsville-Bennion incorporation proposal also was voted down in 1982.
But soon after the election last year, incorporation backers in Bennion circulated a new petition proposing formation a smaller city.
Enough signatures were gathered to bring Bennion incorporation before Salt Lake County commissioners. Commissioners on Thursday called for a special election for Bennion voters on May 2 to decide whether the area - generally bounded by 54th South on the north, West Jordan on the south, Murray on the east and 40th West on the west - will become a city.
Mike Zundel, vice chairman of the Bennion Residents For Incorporation committee, said there are three good reasons to form a new city.
"Bennion traditionally has been an area with its own name and identity, and many people are concerned about maintaining that identity," Zundel said. "Incorporation makes good economic sense. A feasibility study has shown residents can expect an overall tax decrease. And there is the issue of self-government."
But Kniss said a new Bennion City's tax revenue would come up as much as $1 million short of the city's start-up costs. In response to such a deficit, city leaders would surely impose a franchise tax of up to 6 percent on residents' utility bills, he said. Bennion residents currently pay no franchise tax.
Commissioners also expressed reservations about Bennion incorporation, wondering if another small city would further contribute to the "checkerboard" effect of meshing cities and unincorporated areas of the county, which complicates municipal service delivery to unincorporated areas.
But commissioners scheduled the election despite their concerns, mostly because refusing to call the vote could have led to a court fight over the county's power to deny incorporation petitions - an area where state law is unclear.
Commissioners, however, did change the petition's proposed northern boundary slightly - moving it to the center line of 54th South. The boundary as proposed by petitioners would have taken in properties on the north side of 54th South, too. The change straightens the boundary for the future purpose of facilitating service delivery by the respective jurisdictions, should incorporation be approved.