As a former community council chair, I am writing on behalf of other former chairs and members of Millcreek's community councils, past and present, who believe that voters on Tuesday should support Millcreek Township's incorporation as a city.
As committed advocates for our township's residents regarding zoning and planning, as well as issues affecting their property, taxes, and quality of life, we have insight into Salt Lake County government that makes our support of Millcreek's incorporation genuine, informed and urgent.
It alarms us that residents are receiving so much negative misinformation regarding what "might" happen if Millcreek incorporates. If residents knew the truth of the matter, if they realized that changes all around us have made the status quo a negative deal for Millcreek residents, no one would let this rare opportunity to become a city slip away.
The status quo being part of the unincorporated county means we in Millcreek pay substantially higher property taxes than neighboring cities pay. It means we don't make decisions regarding where and how our hard-earned tax dollars are spent (or saved), and don't have any elected officials whose top priority is Millcreek. Thus, too many of our needs go unanswered.
We should stop paying more taxes than we need to pay. While some suggest that, as a city, we might pay higher taxes someday, the fact is we are now paying higher taxes than ever before. And, when you make an accurate comparison of taxes for the same services with similarly priced homes in Holladay and Cottonwood Heights, you'll see that we pay much more than residents of those cities even when you add in applicable franchise fees. Paying more for the same services is neither fair nor necessary.
Shouldn't Millcreek residents be the ones deciding how our community looks and runs? Shouldn't we decide how development is handled, where and when to install sidewalks, fix roads and increase safety, when to spend and when to tighten belts?
Currently we pay extra taxes for the county to be our "city" government. But unlike cities, we don't have anyone who advocates for us alone. Since residents all over the valley elect the county mayor and council, these officials answer to those voters, not us. Millcreek residents should have the power to vote in (or out) all of their elected officials because that provides accountability. That's how democracy was designed to work.
Millcreek generates more than enough tax revenue to prevent higher taxes and fees once we become a city. The Utah Tax Commission just reported revenue figures from local option sales taxes in the unincorporated county, which were up 13.5 percent for the year to date. To put that in perspective for Millcreek, actual receipts show we are now $1.3 million, or 15.7 percent, ahead of the revenue projected in the county's feasibility study for an incorporated Millcreek. That equates to a 10 percent budget surplus.
It's time for Millcreek residents to have the same benefits that neighboring cities enjoy. It's time to put our revenue to work for Millcreek's families, friends and neighbors, with locally elected officials to put their needs and priorities first. That's the power of a city.
We urge you to look at facts and not be swayed by scare tactics. Vote to be the City of Millcreek.
Leslie Riddle is a former East Mill Creek Community Council chair and current member of the Millcreek Planning Commission. Her views are shared by former Community Council chairs Aimee McConkie, Jay Griffith and Derrick Sorenson and 11 past and present members of the council.