The hub of Salt Lake County has a little image problem.

The only time the city of 12,000 makes it into the Utah media is when something lousy happens - like a homicide at the storage center or an explosion and fire at a lumberyard."We've had a lot of publicity. Some of it not so good," Mayor Everett Dahl said during Tuesday night's City Council meeting. Aside from the murders and fires the mayor mentioned, he added "Vietnamese eating carrots out of our arsenic fields," also known as the Sharon Steel site, to the list.

Yes, Midvale has an image problem. And Utah's second-oldest city is considering hiring a public relations firm to help boost the community in the eyes of non-Midvale residents.

"Part of our economic development plan . . . involves a good image, pride in the city, a clean city and well-maintained services," Dahl said during a tour of Midvale.

A tour of the city is one way to let the word out about Midvale, where residents have been free from property tax increases since 1975 and the houses come with sewer hookups, sidewalks and street lights.

"In a lot of ways, we're the best-kept secret in the valley. And that's what we're working against," said Skip Criner, the city engineer.

And that's where Panek & Porter come in.

The Sandy-based public relations and advertising firm is pitching a 90-day trial run with Midvale to arrange publicity for the upcoming Cinco de Mayo (May 5) celebration with its sister city of Piedras Negras, Mexico, and promote the good aspects of the community.

But getting the word out about specialty shops on historic Main Street or the Utah Ballet's performances in Midvale takes professionals with an established pipeline to the right people, said Dale Porter.

"We're just a tool to make it happen more effectively," Porter told the council, which was interested, though skeptical about hiring a PR firm.

Pantek & Porter would charge $37.50, or half its normal hourly rate, for the 90-day trial. No decision is scheduled on the proposal.