As my car is currently parked in Millcreek Township; So, I decided to crash the township information meeting at Skyline High School on 3/18/2008.
A township is a new political entity created by HB40 a few years back.
Salt Lake County followed the traditional western settlement path. The valley was laid out with a dozen distinctive downtown areas. Small towns formed around the area. These areas grew into identifiable cities such as Murray, Midvale, Magna. Salt Lake City was the heart of the valley and the population center. The area around the established towns were administered by the county.
During the Great Leap Forward of the 60s and 70s, cities started becoming more progressive. They raised taxes and passed new restrictive zoning laws. The result is that the cities stopped growing, and the unincorporated areas boomed.
It is actually quite absurd. Most of the high density housing in the Salt Lake Valley is in unincorporated areas.
In the last 30 years, the unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County grew at a rate substantially faster than the cities in the county. Salt Lake City has a lower population than it did in 1976 when my family moved into this area. This area called Millcreek Township is Southeast of Salt Lake City. While Salt Lake City shrank, the population of the Millcreek Township area ballooned to 60,000.
The fact that people voted with their feet and fled incorpated areas should tell us something about city governments.
Anyway, in recent years, the cities in the Salt Lake County went on an annexation frenzy. To the consternation of businesses that made investments in the unincorprated areas, the various cities of Salt Lake County started annexing any property that generated tax revenues. The businesses being annexed were upset at the process. The cherry picking was likely to saddle the county with all of the people living in high density housing, but with no tax base to pay for services.
To give some breathing space, HB40 simply froze all of the city borders in the County. The unicorporated areas were declared townships. The Millcreek Township was so called after one of the neighboorhoods in the township.
Millcreek Township has no indentifiable downtown. Most people in the area address their mail as "Salt Lake City;" So, there is actually a very interesting dynamic: Here is a group of 60,000 people who opened the mail last week and found that they were living in a new thing called Millcreek Township, and that the township might soon become a city.
In the upcoming years, the people in this area have to decide if they want to turn Millcreek Township into Millcreek City, join other cities, or try to find a way to stay unincorporated.
One interesting proposal would be for South Salt Lake (about 20,000 people with a decent industry base) to merge with Millcreek. It is an intriguing proposal as South Salt Lake would give up its identity for a grab at the unincorporated areas. Millcreek Township would then get a little section of State Street and Main to call its own.
One voice in the crowd suggested the area merge with Salt Lake City. I doubt the people would want the big tax increase, and restrictive zoning that would follow.
I think there will be a push for the area to remain a township. However, it is absurd to have a different type of municipality in the state to serve the unincorporated areas. Simply becoming a city with no downtown is logically similar to the current township.
Regardless, it is an interesting process to watch.