Vineyard residents decided to incorporate their area as a town so they could call their own shots, but some authorities fear the loudest voice will belong to the town's main source of revenue - Geneva Steel.
"They will need to keep in mind that even though Geneva employees don't live there and will not be on the City Council, the company will have a major influence on the policies of the town," said Homer Chandler, director of Mountainland Association of Governments. Chandler did a feasibility study on whether the area could survive as a town, and he has advised organizers on the risks of their plan.Resident Rulon Gammon has been selected mayor, and four council members have been chosen. Gammon said Vineyard boasts 148 residents "when everyone is home" and covers 2,805 acres, with 1,460 acres - 52 percent of the land - owned by Geneva Steel.
Jack Bollow, Geneva Steel spokesman, said Geneva could not possibly force the town into setting policies favoring the company.
"It's kind of far-fetched; we are like any other company in that we don't get to vote. Like every interested party, we will provide input to the City Council when we feel it is appropriate, but the residents will make the decisions."
But Geneva is not exactly like "any other company." Revenues it provides could account for as much as 80 or 90 percent of the city's budget - projected at about $70,000 the first year. Some authorities fear that keeping Geneva happy will be a very high priority.
"There are some concerns, but I would hope the residents, mayor and council would not allow themselves to be swayed from what is best for Vineyard," Gammon said. "I feel very comfortable working with the people at Geneva at the present time."
Gammon said the main challenges facing Vineyard's new officials are financial. The city will be required to provide water, power, sewer, streets and emergency services. Gammon said many city services will be provided by outside contractors.
"It's not really cost-effective to have a whole streets department if you only have 5.8 miles of streets. The same is true in other areas."
Chandler's report showed the town would have enough revenue to pay for needed services at its present level of development, but any growth would stretch the budget past capacity.
Gammon said the city will have to cross that bridge when it comes to it.
He hopes various city and county officials who strongly opposed the incorporation will be willing to work with the new town, he said. He was especially hopeful he could create a good relationship with Orem. Officials there have expressed doubt in Vineyard residents' ability to create and run a town, a job they see as highly complex.
Vineyard will probably want to contract some services from Orem, and may request that Orem de-annex an area surrounded on three sides by Vineyard.
Gammon said new officials will continue to seek guidance from Mountainland Association of Governments, and are getting advice from Genola officials. Genola is of similar size and will be used as a model for Vineyard.
Town officials expect the incorporation process to be completed within the next few weeks.