I was going to post this comment on one of the newspapers before remembering the word limit on Deseret News and the general disrepute of the sickeningly leftist Salt Lake Tribune.
Both sides are spreading fear — and both sides’ fears have some legitimacy.
There’s the historically supported fear of annexation, with Mill Creek already having shrunken away over the decades as jittery voters, perhaps sold on the “if it isn’t broken” argument, sat on their hands amidst more ambitious neighbours; and today, some underinformed areas are again minded to split off (most immediately, to Holladay), partly due to the socially and economically centralising effect of incorporation. City opponents press a truly uninspired argument that because of a slightly lengthier, bilateral procedure for annexation, annexation therefore will not occur. This strange confidence in township preservation stands in the face of modern urbanisation pressures, and the malleability of procedure under such pressures.
Then there’s the equally demonstrable fear of rising taxes or fees subsequent to incorporation. Expenses will certainly rise with “duplicate government”, but that duplication is limited to executive and judicial administration, not doubled city services; and those expenses are rather insignificant in the total budget. Also, that very administrative duplication accounts for the greater responsiveness hoped for with closer government. Still, the risk of public employment bloat remains, whether here or (especially) in the larger county.
Taxes and fees will rise over time — how much, and what for, are the real points. Rates will not somehow be locked at present levels by incorporating. Neither will they magically remain static by staying with the overspending county (with its hefty recent budget shortfall draining reserves and flabbergasting Ms. Iwamoto). The county is well rated, but fond of bonding (though Mill Creek City may also bond). The county openly admits an upward drift in employment expenses will -someday- threaten the budget. If a few pro-incorporators see a potential job opportunity, still, the most strident voices against incorporation appear aligned with the county leaders who feel most threatened by revenue loss. Even in this article, that side compounds its legitimate fears with such ridiculous claims as a shadowy “unknown agenda” lurking behind city formation, a mischaracterisation of annexation plans as unilateral and thus imaginary, and a greatly exaggerated threat of duplication leading to spending hikes. Pro-incorporators have the feasibility plan showing only a slight projected cost increase, stabilising over the next few years, to which they add the plausible arguments that re-contracting may possibly save money, and that the feasibility revenue was underestimated according to a later audit.
64,000 people, what would make one of the largest cities in the state, cannot remain an anonymous island forever. If we pass it up this time, we’ll just look back in embarrassment when the next vote comes, maybe larger in number from natural growth, maybe smaller from boundary attrition, stupidly admitting that the county too has raised our costs, and perhaps still waiting on overdue road upgrades and other projects, but still scaring each other with ghost stories of the horrors of other cities. We’ll be no better off, and the question of incorporation will not go away. Or, if we can manage to remain amorphous for long enough, we’ll look back at how our island was eventually engulfed anyway by neighbours. It may take a decade or even several, but one way or another, we’ll belong to a city in the end. It might as well be Mill Creek instead of a focally distant one.