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After some frustrating delays, community council officials have been authorized to distribute officially sanctioned materials explaining ramifications of November's election on the future of Salt Lake County's unincorporated areas.
These materials headed for neighborhood delivery will supplement information about the "Community Preservation" election on the county's website http://www.slco.org/community-preservation/ that has been updated to include comparison charts that "identify key differences in the choices township and unincorporated island residents" face in the Nov. 3 vote.
"This was a huge accomplishment," Associate Deputy Mayor Kimberly Barnett said Tuesday of the comparison charts, while updating the County Council about progress in getting the word out about the election, now less than five months away.
"This provides an easy, side-by-side comparison of how things work today and how they would change based on [the reader's] vote in November," Barnett said. "There are two types an abbreviated one, or if you want a bit more information, a detailed comparison chart."
County officials hope easy-to-read charts such as these will help the 160,000-plus residents of the unincorporated areas understand the issues in this never-before-tested solution to ending decades of municipal border wars fueled by annexations and incorporations.
On Nov. 3, residents in each of the six townships will be asked: Do you want to be a city or a metropolitan township? Then they will be asked if the metro township should join a municipal services district being created by the county to provide public works services such as snow plowing and animal control.
The status quo would essentially be maintained if all the township votes favored metro township and joining and running the municipal services district which looks to branch off from the county in much the same way that deputies and firefighters left with the formation of the Unified Police Department and Unified Fire Authority.
If a township opts to become a city, said McAdams spokeswoman Alyson Heyrend, it still will be included in the municipal services district until its elected city council decides to get out.
In the islands, residents will be asked if they want to stay unincorporated or to annex into an adjacent city.
"It's important to educate our citizens on this huge decision," said County Councilman Steve DeBry. "A lot of people will be drilling down and educating themselves, but a lot won't."
Community council leaders across the Salt Lake Valley have taken on the role of leading the grass-roots education effort. Two weeks ago, they voiced frustration at the time it was taking for a county external communications team to sign off on educational materials developed at the community council level.
Barnett said those issues have been worked out community council representatives in attendance did not object to that characterization and materials bearing the county's logo are back in the neighborhoods for door-to-door dissemination.
"Producing easy-to-understand, neutral and consistent information is difficult but critical work," she said, "as we help residents prepare for the November election."
Added County Councilman Max Burdick, who has been heavily involved since most of the unincorporated islands are in his district: "I don't think any of us realized how much work there was to do."
And there's plenty to do still.
Heyrend, who leads the communications team, said a consultant will be hired soon to do fiscal analyses of the options facing residents in each township and island. That information should be available before a series of town hall meetings in September.
Meanwhile, a second public hearing will be June 30 in the County Council chambers to address the boundaries of the townships and islands as they will appear on the ballot.
An overflow crowd showed up for the June 3 hearing, with residents protesting against proposed reductions in the size of Magna, Copperton and Millcreek townships and offering mixed opinions about whether the Willow Creek island should stay unincorporated, annex to Cottonwood Heights or Sandy, or be divided between those two cities.
County Council members have about two weeks after that hearing to finalize the boundaries.