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Given a second chance, Millcreek residents decided that being a city is a good idea.

Although final counts won't be revealed until the Nov. 17 canvass, ballots counted Tuesday night showed that advocates of Millcreek City rolled to a 2-to-1 victory over proponents of the area becoming a metro township.

The other five townships involved in the Community Preservation election — Magna, Kearns, Copperton, White City and Emigration Canyon — opted against incorporation in favor of becoming metro townships, according to unofficial returns.

In the south valley, the Willow Creek area voted resoundingly to remain unincorporated and not join neighboring Sandy.

Willow Creek was among two dozen islands whose residents turned their backs on annexation to Sandy and voted to stay unincorporated. Ten islands favored uniting with adjacent cities, according to Tuesday's count, while ties or no votes were cast in five islands.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, who shepherded the complex Community Preservation bill through the Legislature, called the election "democracy at its finest."

He pledged the county will support the majority vote and "continue to deliver high-quality municipal services at an affordable cost. We will work closely with all these new local governments to ensure they guide that effort going forward."

Millcreek attracted the most interest because it was the largest township in terms of population (nearly 60,000) and geography. A financial analysis conducted for Salt Lake County by Zions Bank also showed it had the tax base to support itself.

In addition, the community has been a hotbed of political activism for years. Three years ago, an attempt to incorporate Millcreek as the county's 17th city failed by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin.

But proponents of cityhood kept their organization together — working closely with McAdams to get the Community Preservation bill passed — and mounted a well-financed campaign that dotted neighborhoods with pro-city lawn signs and sent glossy mailers to thousands of homes.

Pro-city forces also voted decidedly against joining the municipal services district, rallying behind the argument of Fred Healey, chairman of Millcreek Neighbors for Representative Government.

"The [district] doesn't make sense for Millcreek," he maintained. "Our tax revenues are greater than the cost of our services. We need no subsidy. There's no reason for Millcreek to give up our independence and pool our taxes with the other townships."

Even so, Millcreek will become part of the municipal services district for the next year, with the County Council acting as the board of trustees.

But after the new city elects a mayor and four City Council members next November, that group will decide where the city will get its planning and public works services starting in 2017 — by supplying their own, or contracting them from the service district, other cities or the private sector.

In the communities that will become metro townships, each will be divided into five districts of similar populations. Next November, township council members will be elected from each district.

They, in turn, will select a chairperson to represent the area on the municipal services district board.

That board — which also includes the county mayor, two County Council members, representatives from each metro township and any cities that choose to join — will determine the level of services delivered to the metro townships and to the unincorporated islands

Island residents will be represented by the mayor and County Council members on the board, which will not be seated until Jan. 1, 2017.

mikeg@sltrib.com These are the unofficial results of the community preservation vote in Salt Lake County. X-unofficial winner.

TOWNSHIP CITY METRO TOWNSHIP

Copperton 37 X-136

Join service district? (yes) X-146 (no) 27

Emigration Canyon 20 X-537

Join service district? (yes) X-519 (no) 36

Kearns 870 X-1,855

Join service district? (yes) X-2,026 (no) 670

Magna 964 X-1,531

Join service district? (yes) X-1,941 (no) 536

Millcreek X-8,711 4,433

Join service district? (yes) 4,507 (no) X-8,534

White City 165 X-794

Join service district? (yes) X-838 (no) 126

Willow Creek annexation (yes) 103 (no) X-411

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