The Salt Lake County Commission is considering asking voters to decide whether they want their taxes raised to pay for overhead power-line burial.
The commission voted Wednesday to look into a November election on the matter after various residents expressed objections to a proposed overhead high-voltage power line Utah Power is planning to install along Fort Union Boulevard.County ordinance requires such lines to be buried, but last year the Legislature passed a law requiring burial cost to be borne by citizens rather than Utah Power.
Residents talked about various visual and health problems related with overhead lines.
But commission Chairman Brent Overson emphasized that the issue was solely how to pay for burial, because getting Utah Power to pay is "not an option available to us" given state law.
The commission has wrestled with whether to require only residents along the corridor to pay or whether to spread it out countywide.
Commissioner Randy Horiuchi noted that if the commission requires citizens not along the corridor to help out, they should rightly expect power lines in their neighborhoods to be buried as well.
"If people are willing to put their money where their mouths are, I'm in" regarding raising property taxes to pay for it, he said.
Various obstacles lie along the road to an election and property-tax hike. The funds wouldn't start flowing until 1999, meaning Utah Power would have to wait six months to a year to start construction of the line.
Utah Power attorney Gregory Monson said he wasn't sure the company would be willing to wait that long.
Taxes would be raised only for residents in the unincorporated areas, unless cities in the valley decided to go in with the county in the burial tax scheme.
Cottonwood Heights Community Council Chairwoman Karen Eyre said she has been in contact with various state legislators in an attempt to overturn the law and get Utah Power to pay for buried lines.