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COUNTY TO APPEAL COTTONWOODS RULING

SHARE COUNTY TO APPEAL COTTONWOODS RULING

For those pushing for the right to vote on incorporation of The Cottonwoods, elation over a judge's ruling that ordered Salt Lake County to hold an election on the issue may prove short-lived.

Salt Lake County Commissioner Jim Bradley said Thursday morning the county has decided to appeal the judge's decision."It is our opinion that we used sound judgment in our initial decision to not allow an election to be held for the incorporation efforts in The Cottonwoods," Bradley originally said. "Our decision was based on legislative authority that gives us that power and based upon the inequity that would exist between the revenues generated and expenditures required to provide services."

If The Cottonwoods were allowed to incorporate, taking sales tax revenue from the Cottonwood Mall with it, other service areas in the unincorporated county would suffer, Bradley said.

The commission's earlier decision was "based on sound judgment regarding fairness and equity to all citizens in the unincorporated county," Bradley said.

Deputy County Attorney Gavin Anderson said the county will appeal to the Utah Supreme Court within the next week or so.

On Wednesday 3rd District Judge Homer F. Wilkinson granted the incorporation proponents' motion for an extraordinary writ and ordered the county to hold an election on the incorporation before Jan. 7. The county also will seek a stay on the ruling ordering it to hold the election by that date.

Proponents of The Cottonwoods incorporation effort hoped the strength of Wilkinson's arguments would dissuade the county from appealing the decision.

"Evidently it wasn't," said Barry Topham, a member of the executive committee of Neighbors for The Cottonwoods. "We think it is an unfortunate thing to just prolong this. We feel the law is on our side and the right also. The county commission form of government is very un-American because it's not representative and they've taken a very un-American action in trying to prevent us from voting on this."

The Cottonwoods would include the area bounded roughly by the Murray-Holladay Road and Casto Lane on the north, Highland Drive on the west and I-215 on the east and south. The proposed city would have 6,800 residents.

It would largely be funded by two commercial enterprises - the Cottonwood Mall and Creekside Plaza.

Back in August, county commissioners were all for the right of self-determination. During a public hearing on the proposal, Commissioner Brent Overson said "we will have a vote. We're not here to determine your destiny, you need to determine it yourself."

Then the county took a look at the numbers.

A feasibility study showed the proposed city would have a revenue surplus of about $1.4 million.

Based on that finding, the commission voted unanimously in September not to schedule a vote on the incorporation proposal, relying on wording in state law that allows it to deny an incorporation request if creation of a new city would be "detrimental" and "contrary to the public interest."

"It's a major inequity to have a small area like that incorporate and include a major retail outlet like the Cottonwood Mall," Bradley said Wednesday. "What that does is take money away from the rest of the county. That would mean that every citizen in the unincorporated county would be sacrificing about a dollar-plus for residents of that city. That's just not fair."

Topham said his group doesn't think the new city would have revenues anywhere near the amount put forth by the county.

"We may be taking some sales-tax dollars the county doesn't want us to take, but the property taxes that are paid by residents out here are so incredibly high compared to the rest of the county that the area is still going to be contributing far more property tax money than we receive back," he said. "We're still going to be a cash cow for the county."