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.
Salt Lake County
Regional Development Announces Blake H. Thomas as Municipal Economic
Salt Lake County Division of Regional Economic Development announced that it has hired Blake H. Thomas as the County’s Municipal Economic Development Director, a new position that was created this year to help serve the economic development needs of the newly formed Metro Townships and other
municipalities in the county. Thomas previously served as the Regional Economic Development Manager for the County, where he oversaw the review process of all tax increment financing proposals.
“Salt Lake County is growing at an exponential rate and it is important that municipalities and the regional government work together to ensure that economic growth is done in ways that improve the lives of our County residents,” said Stuart Clason, Associate Director in the Department of
Regional Transportation, Housing and Economic Development. “Blake has done an exceptional job in managing his current responsibilities, and I’m confident he will be a successful liaison between the county government and our municipal partners.”
Prior to his time at the County, Thomas worked at the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, where he was the expert on renewable energy and alternative transportation. Thomas holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Utah State University, where he was awarded Graduate Researcher of
the Year honors.
“I’m excited to move into this new role within the Division of Regional Economic Development and I look forward to working with municipal partners to ensure that Salt Lake County continues to be a thriving metropolitan region for businesses, for residents, and for quality of life,”
Thomas started his new role on October 25, 2017.