Timely annexation makes

sense for Moroni

 

Annexation can be a good thing. In fact, if a city wants to control the environment in which its citizens live, and to chart the location of future growth, timely annexations are essential.

In that vein, Moroni City, taking one step at a time, should annex Sanpete Steel, the residential neighborhood north of North Sanpete Middle School, the school itself, and ultimately, the Norbest plant.

What is a city anyway? It’s a concentration of homes and businesses, with a municipal government that provides water, sewer, parks, police and other services.

Besides providing services, municipal governments, through planning and zoning, regulate land use so everyone in the community can enjoy peace, safety and a good environment.

There’s one other dimension: Homes and businesses share in the costs of city services and city government by paying property taxes, sales taxes and user fees.

In Moroni, the city boundary runs through the middle of the Sanpete Steel property. The steel plant already gets water and sewer from the city.

The split jurisdiction means if the company expands, as it plans to, it could be subject to two sets of development regulations, one city and one county, and could be required to deal with two separate planning commissions. That doesn’t make sense.

Likewise, the subdivision that extends to the east of the city gets water, and many of the homes get sewer services from the city. Certainly, residents of the subdivision use city streets and parks. And if they call the police, a Moroni City officer is likely to respond. The development is urban in character, the kind of landscape a municipality, not a county government, is set up to regulate.

If Sanpete Steel and the residential area were annexed, North Sanpete Middle School, which right now is in the county, but which also receives utilities from the city, would be almost surrounded by city land. Again, that doesn’t make sense. And it’s against state law. The law says you can’t have unincorporated “islands” or “peninsulas” within cities. The school needs to come into Moroni City.

Norbest—including the processing plant, feed mill, corporate headquarters, hardware store, factory store, and yes, the waste lagoon—is a much bigger elephant to swallow. But the principle is the same.

The plant is adjacent to the city. A facility of Norbest’s type and scale will inevitably have impacts on nearby property; in other words, on residents of Moroni. It makes sense for the city, not a fairly distant county government in Manti, to have jurisdiction.

If Moroni City annexed Norbest, it would be legally responsible for providing water to the plant, something it is not in position to do. Norbest supplies its water from its own wells and uses much more water than all of Moroni City.

But surely a solution could be negotiated that would benefit both parties, such as the city buying the wells, or the plant agreeing to forego municipal water in return for certain tax breaks.

Getting back to finances, it’s difficult for a city to cover its costs from residential property taxes alone. It needs businesses and industries, which are taxed at a higher rate than homes, to bring in larger volumes of revenue. And it needs sales tax.

For the social, economic and aesthetic future of the city, Moroni needs to annex properties that abut its boundaries, are built up, and are best governed by a city rather than the county.