Salt Lake County unveiled what it's calling a "neutral" website on the Millcreek incorporation question Thursday, using the occasion to formally promote an Oct. 11 public meeting to discuss the pros and cons of making the eastside community the valley's 17th city.
Representatives from both sides were satisfied that the website www.millcreekballot.com is "fair and balanced," providing proponents and opponents with forums to state their positions about what would be good or bad about turning the unincorporated township into a city of nearly 65,000 people.
And, they agreed, for those who are uncertain which way to vote when the measure appears on the Nov. 6 general-election ballot, the website's inclusion of a 2011 study of the feasibility of incorporation may help sway minds.
For as city supporter Jeff Silvestrini sees it, that study concludes that incorporation is feasible, especially if its predictions on the city's revenue stream are overly conservative and sales-tax receipts exceed projections.
But opponent Tom Love reads the feasibility study in a different light, citing its analysis that city revenues will decline slightly after an OK beginning, particularly if city officials opt not to use the Unified Police Department (UPD) and Unified Fire Authority (UFA) for public safety.
Silvestrini said a new city's leaders were likely to continue receiving police and fire coverage from those service districts, even if they do look at whether Millcreek might be better off forming its own departments or contracting with other cities for services. "A future city council won't make dumb decisions," he said.
"Jeff can't make that promise," responded Love, noting that some incorporation proponents (including Republican mayoral candidate Mark Crockett and Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore) had publicly advocated alternatives to the UPD and UFA. "That [stance], to the anti-side, is alarming."
That's why it's good to have a neutral site undecided people can turn to for information, said County Mayor Peter Corroon, pledging that "Salt Lake County supports self determination."
His senior adviser, Kimi Barnett, has spent the past couple of months working with Love, Silvestrini and the consulting company Redirect to develop content for the website, everything from the ballot language itself to position statements by both sides and a "frequently asked question" section that allows each to offer differing interpretations of the facts.
"This is a civil dialogue," Silvestrini noted, to Love's agreement. "We're neighbors now and will be after it's over. There are different views. This will help people understand the issues to make informed decisions."
To advance that goal more, Millcreek residents should soon receive a flier in the mail about the county-sponsored meeting 6-8 p.m. Oct. 11 at Skyline High School.
To educate residents about the proposed incorporation, Salt Lake County has helped establish a neutral website www.millcreekballot.com.