On Tuesday, May 2 for the third time in recent years - the residents of Bennion in Salt Lake County will vote on incorporating the community into a city. Let's hope this is the last time and that if the idea is rejected, the backers of incorporation will finally take "no" for an answer.
It's barely been a year since residents voted down a proposal to make the Taylorsville-Bennion area a city, the same outcome on the same question as a previous attempt in 1982.After the latest defeat, die-hard incorporation proponents looked at the results and saw that a majority of the votes rejecting the idea came from Taylorsville. They redrew the proposed boundary to include Bennion only and launched another incorporation try.
The proposed city would have 20,000 inhabitants - about half the size of last year's Taylorsville-Bennion plan. It would be bounded by 5400 South on the north, West Jordan on the south, Murray on the east and 4000 West on the west.
Arguments for creating the city are the same as in the previous vote, namely a defense against annexation by neighboring cities, a desire for government closer to home, community identity, and the belief that incorporation can produce lower taxes.
Those arguments failed to convince a majority of voters in 1988 and they have not become more compelling since. Yet residents are getting weary of the repeated elections and backers may be counting on a certain apathy to aid their incorporation drive.
Opponents say remaining an unincorporated area has its advantages, chiefly a satisfactory level of county services at acceptable cost. They argue that a new city would have to provide the same services and cope with some additional ones as well, such as another layer of government.
Salt Lake County officials are not pleased with the multiple elections. First, they cost money and, second, the continued trend to incorporation is breaking the county into little pieces, slicing away the unincorporated tax base, and making it harder for officials to effectively govern.
If the county really must become a wall-to-wall incorporated area, it would be much better to make that happen under a larger plan that deals with all the issues - instead of having a gradual Balkanization that ends up costing everyone more money.
Bennion voters should turn down the latest incorporation attempt. And county officials should tackle the problems of neighborhood representation that have led so many communities to consider becoming cities even if the reforms involve a new type of county government.