One of the ever contentious issues in the state of Utah, is the topic of city incorporation – particularly of the process of how communities become incorporated in the state.
In recent years the issue has come to a head in the Millcreek township, just south of Salt Lake City. Communities in that debate have been split between joining the capital city, splitting off and creating their own city, staying within the governance of Salt Lake County, or some hybrid of those various options.
The state has seen similar issues and concerns surrounding city incorporation both inside and outside of Salt Lake County and, although the issues surrounding each particular bid for incorporation may be different, one thing remains near universal across the state whenever the issue of incorporation comes up: contention.
Part of the incorporation process is a feasibility study to determine if the new city being created could actually function without unduly causing harm to any other communities.
Currently, this process is run through the county that the incorporated city would reside in. In some cases, this has caused conflicts of interest, if only because the new city is specifically trying to leave the very county government that has to determine if it is a good idea for a new city to be created.
In an attempt to alleviate this conflict, Representative Mel Brown (Republican – Coalville) is proposing HB 245 – Incorporation Process for Cities and Towns.
Under Brown’s proposal, the state – by way of the lieutenant governor, would be in charge of actually performing the feasibility studies for those who have reached the point where they are actually able to make such a request.
By moving the responsibly up to the state, rather than through a potentially biased county, Brown is trying to remove some of the politics associated with trying to establish a new city.
At issue is the question of if the state should take this power away from counties in the first place. There are several upset citizens who clearly feel that this is the proper policy decision to make; however this same policy change implies that a county is incapable of being fair – a very paternal action by the state.
It will be interesting to see how the legislature views this legislation – in general the legislature has not shied away from taking power away from lower governments; however the politics behind incorporation is an issue that affects many lawmakers, and a yes vote on such legislation might have repercussions come November 2016.
To contact Representative Brown, click here or call 435-336-3309.
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