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SB199 • After years of boundary disputes driven by incorporations and annexations, lawmakers passed a bill that preserves the boundaries of the six existing townships in unincorporated Salt Lake County and gives residents in each of those townships a choice this November — to become a city or a metro township. Whatever choice they make, each area then can select a representative to serve on a board that will govern a special services district that will deliver municipal services, such as snowplowing and animal control.

People living in unincorporated areas that are not part of townships, largely in pockets around Sandy, would have the right to stay unincorporated or to annex into an adjacent city.

The bill's House sponsor — Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns — said more than a year's work has gone into developing the legislation, which will make it possible for the unincorporated communities to pursue economic-development initiatives while preserving the public's right to self-determination. In the past, many of the unincorporated area's tax-generating commercial properties often were annexed into neighboring cities.

"We tried to do development, and the minute we did and it became successful, cities would come in and cherry-pick the development and take the revenue out and leave the rest behind. … They take it away and you're left with just residential. It's awfully hard to fund a city on just residential."

Some opponents objected that the bill created another layer of government and was too complex to digest at this late date in the session and asked for more time for study.

If the governor signs the bill, the registered voters in the county's six existing townships — Millcreek, Magna, Kearns, White City, Copperton and Emigration Canyon — will receive a ballot in the mail this November.

­— Erica Palmer