Municipal economic development means working collaboratively with Salt Lake County’s metro townships and cities to meet their respective needs. Our partners receive assistance in formulating and executing economic plans that play to our client’s strengths. Our team also works to attract jobs and cultivate resilient communities through financing redevelopment activities.
Historically, townships were at the will and whim of neighboring cities and the county. Bordering cities could annex lucrative commercial areas from townships, which was beneficial to the municipality, but stripped many of the economic engines from the townships. This increased the burden on township residents, which were stuck footing the bill for municipal services without the help of sales and other tax streams.
To shore up community boundaries and tax base and to prevent such annexation from occurring in the future, the legislature passed Senate Bill 199, the Community Preservation bill, in 2015. SB 199 was developed by a committee of township and unincorporated county residents to allow for greater autonomy in governance in townships and unincorporated parts of the county. The bill allowed for townships residents to vote in November 2015 on whether to incorporate as metro townships or as cities.
This change gave new metro townships autonomy by creating a five-member metro township council elected by the residents and providing a seat on the Municipal Service District Board of Trustees for each metro township. The change also provided boundary protection, meaning that land could not simply be annexed away from metro townships as it had been in the past.
Furthermore, Metro Townships were granted authority over planning and zoning, business licensing, and street maintenance and lighting as well as authority over local option sales tax and some authority over property tax. For many services, Metro Townships contract with Salt Lake County through the Municipal Services District. And while there is some level of autonomy, local township councils do not have the authority to impose utility taxes nor the ability to directly spend taxpayer dollars. While sales tax rates are determined by the Metro Township council, revenues are collected and expended by the Municipal Services District, which is governed by a board, comprised of the Mayors of the Metro Townships and a county council representative.
In January 2017, five townships transitioned to metro townships: Copperton, Emigration Canyon, Kearns, Magna, and White City.