In 2008, many residents of Stansbury Park were unhappy with decisions being made by the county. A community meeting was held about the possibility of becoming a city.
We were told by some residents that our commercial tax base was too small and we could not afford to do it. No one actually took the time, however, to run the numbers and a feasibility study was not conducted.
I, like most everyone else, just took what was said at the meeting at face value and assumed we needed a larger population and more businesses before we could incorporate and have more control over our own destiny.
Eight years have now passed. We have grown even larger in population, but we still have a fairly small business base. However, we discovered in 2012 that the county was misusing our unincorporated tax dollars. The next year, the county told us it would pull PILT revenue from the municipal service fund.
The county also started charging aggressive administrative fees to unincorporated residents, and added a sixth municipal property tax on Stansbury Park.
Stansbury residents appealed to their county elected officials for relief, but were told that new taxes were needed because we do not pay our “fair share.” We were told that Tooele and Grantsville residents were subsidizing services for Stansbury Park.
Since our appeal fell on deaf ears, a few of us investigated county and state records to verify what we had been told. That investigation revealed some interesting facts. We learned that: Stansbury Park pays the highest taxes in the county, higher than every city; we had already been paying our “fair share” for the services we were receiving; county budgets and state law make it so city residents cannot subsidize Stansbury Park; and Stansbury Park residents must pay for all of their municipal services whether Stansbury Park has a commercial tax base or not and whether it is incorporated or not.
We were encouraged to discover that the high municipal administration fees Stansbury residents pay for employees at the county can pay for city employees when we incorporate. We also found that Stansbury Park’s allocation of gas tax and sales tax will pay for our roads and public safety.
Another surprising thing we learned in our investigation was that three of the top four highest taxed communities in the state are unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County: Magna, Kearns and White City. These three communities all had the same excuses to not incorporate. They never worked to build a tax base, and annexations from neighboring cities had already claimed potential tax revenue.
These communities now find themselves land-locked and fully developed with no options to improve their tax situation. In other words, they thought they were getting a “good deal” staying unincorporated, but now find that they waited too long and must pay the highest taxes in the state.
Stansbury Park is not saving money by staying unincorporated. Rather, we are missing out on opportunities. Like 2008, those opposed to incorporation are still making the same arguments founded upon nothing but speculation and conjecture. They still say now is not the time to incorporate. Well if not now, then when?
We need to incorporate now to build our tax base, protect what we already have, and take control of our future. If you want to see what the independent and non-biased experts actually have said about these issues, please review the feasibility study and draw your own conclusions. That document, and further information about incorporation, can be found at www.incorporatestansburypark.com. Vote “yes” for Stansbury Park.
Wade Hadlock is a Stansbury Park resident. He is the sponsor contact for the Stansbury Park incorporation petition.