Although the state has ruled that the city cannot include the annexation issue on the November ballot, city officials are plotting their next move.
The City Council decided to broach to city residents the subject of whether the city should pursue annexation by printing polls in the Sentinel newspaper and including surveys in resident water bills. However, the City Council is still open to suggestions to help accurately gauge citizen sentiments on the years-old issue, Council chairman Boyd Marshall said.In the meantime, Mayor Randy Fitts is preparing an educational campaign that will bring him to small meetings on neighborhood blocks to address the pros and cons of annexation. Fitts predicted the meetings would start at the end of August or the beginning of September.
Two annexation scenarios are being considered: Area 1, which would stretch the small city's boundaries from 3300 South to 3900 South and add the area between 700 East and the Jordan River; and Area 2, which would expand the city limits even further, creating a jagged southern border along Cottonwood Creek, approximately 4300 South - immediately north of the Murray border.
The combined total of the two areas is 3.7 square miles. South Salt Lake now comprises 4.5 square miles.
The Council voted 6-1 in April to put the annexation issue on the November ballot in a nonbinding vote. Councilwoman Judy Sie-bach was the lone dissenter, rationalizing her objection by saying she doesn't think the ballot is the best way to get information to and from citizens.
But in a seeming setback to their plans last month, municipal ballot printer Vernon Carr told city recorder Karen Rynearson that putting the opinion question on the ballot would be illegal, thanks to SB27, passed during the recent legislative session. The Council reviewed a letter from the state elections director - confirming Carr's opinion - during its work meeting Wednesday.
In the letter dated Aug. 9, election director Kelleen Leishman explains: "There was clear legislative intent (in SB27) to prohibit local governments from placing non-binding opinion issues on the ballot." Carr said legislation's purpose is to prevent government from spending public money toapprove or reject issues.
South Salt Lake officials aren't letting the new state law interfere with their plans, though.
"In actuality, (the survey) would draw more people out than the ballot," Councilwoman Cheryl Owen, said.
A summary of the annexation's pros and cons is expected from Phoenix-based consultants Economic Strategies Group next week. Fitts said he will use the summaries - a condensed version of the 44-page analysis prepared by ESG last December - during his meetings with citizens.