MILLCREEK TOWNSHIP — Tonight, we meet the potential in-laws.

I'm a little nervous about how this is going to go. South Salt Lake City is more established than we are. We're a free-spirited clan. We've been on our own for so long now that it's difficult to comprehend the notion of a union. That's part of the charm of our Millcreek Township family.

By legislative decree, however, townships will expire in 2010. That means we either form our own city, annex to an existing city or vote to stay unincorporated.

I feel no great compunction to get hitched. Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and the Salt Lake County Council serve our needs well. I have great confidence in the Salt Lake Sheriff's Office for my law-enforcement needs. Animal Services has been pleasant to work with on the occasions I've had to bail my dog out of doggy jail. My trash is picked up on schedule, and the road crews do a fantastic job of plowing the roads in the winter and repairing the roads in warmer months.

What can I say? I operate under the "If it ain't broken, don't fix it" philosophy.

Yet we have to be pragmatic about how much it would cost to continue to do our own thing, either as a city or the unincorporated county. Starting a city would would mean a substantial tax increase to maintain our current level of municipal services.

As a potential marriage partner, we're likely viewed as the high-maintenance type. We cut a large swath across the east side of the Salt Lake Valley. But we don't have a lot of businesses, aside from some retail, restaurants and a few office and professional buildings. For the most part, we're a bedroom community, the 65,000 or so of us. However, our population renders us an attractive marriage partner because the state, in part, uses city population figures to apportion sales tax. South Salt Lake city's population is now about 21,000.

Then again, our own city of 65,000 could wield some economic clout as far as sales tax is concerned. But that benefit would be impacted by the steep start-up costs of a municipal government. And sales tax revenues are subject to economic fluctuations and, therefore, a less predictable revenue stream than, say, property taxes.

Our South Salt Lake city suitor has a good deal of industry, so much so it is dubbed "The Center of Industry." It's attractive in the respect that such a union would be achieved without a huge tax increase. We're all served by Granite School District, so that's not an issue.

But there are many other questions regarding what agencies would provide "Millcreek City" its law enforcement, public works and animal services, to name a few. Will Millcreekers inherit South Salt Lake's agencies? Or, as is the case in all good marriages, will there be give and take on these issues?

Would City Hall remain in what is now South Salt Lake city or would it be moved to a more central location? What will be the common identity of Millcreek City? Could such a sprawling city develop a sense of community, which city dwellers tell me is one attractive aspect of living in a bona fide city?

And will South Salt Lakers feel swallowed whole by 65,000 Millcreekers in terms of their governance? It's a leap of faith for South Salt Lakers, that's for sure.

For what it's worth, I don't view this as a shotgun wedding. It appears that all of the players are taking a measured approach to this proposal, which is smart. If this is to work at all, both sides would have to go into this arrangement willingly.

And there's always the possibility that Millcreekers, who have long cherished their independence, may elect to go another direction.

A meeting on the future of Millcreek Township will be held tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. at Skyline High School, 3251 E. 3760 South. It sounds like we have a lot to talk about.

Marjorie Cortez, who has promised herself to keep an open mind about this and any other municipal proposal, is a Deseret Morning News editorial writer. E-mail her at [email protected]