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AMERICAN EXPRESS ADMITS IT’S HELPING FUND OPPOSITION

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The mystery is solved - somewhat.

Citizens Against Incorporating Taylorsville-Bennion is comprised of five or six businesses in the area that fear higher taxes in a new city.The firms have hired Utah Lobbying Inc., a government consulting business operated by Rob Jolley, to help them launch a last-minute attempt to dissuade residents from voting to incorporate.

While Jolley refuses to identify the businesses that hired him, the Deseret News confirmed Monday that one of the firms is American Express.

Mark Day, spokesman for American Express, said that while the company was not taking a public stand on the incorporation, it donated money to the opposition campaign.

Jolley said the businesses came together about two weeks ago to fight incorporation. He said the firms don't want to be identified because they don't want to jeopardize future relations with a possible new city government.

Residents of Taylorsville-Bennion go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether or not to form a city.

Jolley filed a notice with the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office Sept. 8, saying that a political issues committee had formed to oppose incorporation.

Incorporation proponents have not filed a political issues committee notice, as required by law. The ordinance states an issues committee that spends $250 or more to back or oppose a cause must file notice with the County Clerk's Office 14 days prior to the election.

Bob Bedont, a spokesman for the incorporation committee, told the Deseret News the group planned to register as a committee Monday.

"This is just a volunteer community group," Bedont said. "It was just one of those things that were oversighted. We're remedying the situation."

Bedont said incorporation supporters include businessman James L. Sorenson, Utah Power, Hardee's, Harmons, Albertsons, Winder Dairy and Kinko's.

The notice must include itemized statements of money received and spent by the committee. Groups or individuals who donate more than $50 must be identified in the statement.

Neither group met the filing deadline as required by law. The situation also illustrates a loophole in the county's disclosure ordinance: Neither group is required to identify who their supporters are until a month after the election.

County Clerk Sherrie Swensen says she is required to take action against violators of the law only if she receives a complaint. As of press time Monday, no one had complained about the proponents' failure to register.

If Swensen receives a complaint, the proponents will have five days to file notice with the county.

Jolley said the businesses' action is motivated by fears that if Tay-lors-ville-Bennion becomes a city, it will seek to provide its own services. That would require higher, and possibly new taxes, Jolley said.

A feasibility study showed that at current taxing levels, the proposed city would run a $3 million deficit in 1997 if it offered all services on its own.

"For Taylorsville-Bennion to successfully incorporate and provide services citizens are currently receiving, they'll have to increase taxes significantly," Jolley said.

Proponents of incorporation say they plan to provide a handful of services and contract for the rest. The study shows that under that option, the city would not need a tax increase and would have a surplus of about $2 million.

Jolley said the businesses will spend a total of about $12,000 in their effort to derail incorporation.