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CROWD FAVORS INCORPORATION FOR A MORE PERFECT UNION

SHARE CROWD FAVORS INCORPORATION FOR A MORE PERFECT UNION

Residents say Salt Lake County's neglect has awakened a sleeping giant in search of self-rule and a new city called Union.

Union residents filled a large auditorium Monday night at Union Park Middle School for a public hearing about the proposed incorporation of their community. They jeered the county commissioners and cheered on resident after resident who spoke in favor of incorporation."We would get control over our own tax dollars. We have no control now. The county doesn't care one hoot about you and I," said resident David Green in a statement that was typical of the others.

Green, like many of his neighbors, pointed to county commissioners' approval of the Hermes Associates Inc. expansion at the Family Center at Fort Union. Despite opposition from residents, the controversial redevelopment project was allowed to proceed. Hermes has said publicly it opposes the incorporation drive.

"Hermes runs the commission," Green told the audience in front of the three commissioners.

Gayle Godfrey, a member of the community council, elicited applause when she said that residents need to "remember in November" who voted for and against the Hermes project.

She noted that Commissioner Randy Horiuchi voted for the project while Commissioner Jim Bradley opposed it. Both Democrats are up for re-election. Republican Brent Overson also supported the project but isn't up for re-election this year. None of the three responded to the heckles.

Commissioners, who will make a final decision about whether the incorporation measure will be placed on the ballot and what the boundaries will be, said Monday they were committed to allowing the election.

"This will be a fair and legitimate incorporation procedure. It will be thoughtful and justifiable," said Bradley.

Bradley said there would be only minor changes, if any, to the proposed incorporation boundaries. Horiuchi said there would be no effort to take the Family Center out of the proposed boundary.

"I think you need to decide your own future," Overson said.

Residents who spoke said that Union voters are left with two choices, either be swallowed up by the nearby cities of Sandy and Midvale through annexation or become a city and rule themselves.

Kelvin Green said he would be willing to pay more taxes in return for self-determination. A consultant's report about incorporation shows that the city, supported by a strong tax base, would be feasible. However, the report shows a shortfall in the first year's budget and suggests raising franchise taxes.

While no one spoke against the incorporation, some raised questions about the proposal. Elgin Hokanson, a former state representative from the area, raised concerns over water service to an incorporated Union. Sandy city purchased the Union-Jordan water company in the 1970s and now sells surplus water to Union residents. Hokanson worried about whether Sandy can or will continue to provide water to the area.

Others also raised concerns about the county's commitment to fund the widening of 7200 South if the area is incorporated.

The public comment period for the Union incorporation will remain open until Wednesday, Aug. 17. Written comments may be submitted to the county commissioners until then. Commissioners said they will release their final decision on the boundaries for the ballot measure during an evening meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 31.