EMIGRATION CANYON'S POWERS AND DUTIES
The following is a brief summary of the various canyon entities providing government-type services in the canyon. It is intended to show how each inter-relates to the others and describe the areas of concern and control.
The Emigration Canyon Metro Township is a Utah municipality. As such it is a governmental entity with general police powers. It can, within its jurisdiction, create and enforce laws; and it has limited taxing power. It was created by a vote of the residents of Emigration Canyon in 2015. The Township is governed by an elected council consisting of five members, one of whom is selected by the others to be the mayor. The Council is the legislative body of the Township. The mayor is the chief executive officer of the Township.
The Township has all of the municipal powers available to Utah municipalities under the Utah Municipal Code with the exception of certain taxing powers. It does not have the power to enact a property tax or municipal energy taxes (sometimes called franchise taxes).
The Township council has the authority to enact laws and ordinances to carry out its responsibilities such as land use and development regulations (zoning). As long as these laws are not inconsistent with the Utah Municipal Code and other state statutes.
The Township is a member of the Greater Salt Lake County Municipal Services District. This District provides six municipal-type services to the residents of the Township. The Township is also participating member of the Unified Police Department and the Unified Fire Authority located in Salt Lake County.
The Emigration Canyon Planning Commission is a board created and appointed by the Emigration Canyon Metro Township Council. The Township is required by state law to have an ordinance establishing a planning commission. The ordinance defines the number and terms of the members, and alternate members if any and the mode of appointment. The ordinance also establishes rules of order and procedure for use by the planning commission and the procedures for filling vacancies and removal from office. The Metro Township Council has the power to amend and change this ordinance from time to time as it feels is in the best interest of the Township.
The ordinance also details the authority of the Planning /Commission. Not all planning commissions in Utah will have the same power and authority. The Utah State law requires the Planning Commission to have some minimal duties and authority. These duties include making a recommendation to the Township Council for adoption and amendment of the general plan and making recommendations to the Township Council on the adoption or amendment of land use regulations, zoning maps, or official maps. No other powers or duties are required to be given to the Planning Commission by the Metro Township Council. The planning commission does not have any other inherent powers.
The Planning Commission is not a policy-making body. It recommends policy to the policymakers. The requirement of state law is that the planning commission is to be involved in making recommendations to the Metro Township Council regarding certain land-use regulations. If the Metro Township Council does not accept the recommendations, there is nothing the planning commission can do. The state code specifically provides that the Council can adopt a recommended ordinance, reject it, or revise it.
The ordinance and code adopted by the Township Council have given the Township Planning Commission a role as the Land Use Authority for the Township in some land use matters such as the granting or denial of conditional use permits. A Land Use Authority is the individual or body that makes the decision as to whether or not a permit or approval is given to a land use applicant. When the Planning Commission is acting as the Land Use Authority it must follow and implement the Township code, ordinances, and state law. It is acting in an administrative role. Administrative functions are usually not discretionary. Utah law specifically provides that a land-use applicant is entitled to approval of his or her application if the application conforms to the local law and if all fees have been paid.
The Greater Salt Lake Municipal Services District (MSD) is the service provider for the Emigration Canyon Metro Township. The MSD receives its funding from the Metro Townships and Unincorporated County and contracts with agencies to provide Public Works, Animal Services, Planning and Development, Engineering, Parks, Justice Courts, Municipal Prosecution, and Indigent Legal Services. The Greater Salt Lake Municipal Services District (MSD) also provides municipal services to the other Salt Lake County Metro Townships and to the unincorporated communities of Salt Lake County.
MSD funding comes from the Metro Townships and the unincorporated communities through sales tax, Class B and C highway funds, fees, grants, and other revenues.
The District’s Board of Trustees currently contracts for services with Salt Lake County. The Board sets service levels, allocates funding, and establishes policies. The District’s General Manager carries out the direction of the Board.
The difference between the MSD and the Emigration Canyon Metro Townships is that the Township is an independent municipality that is a member of the MSD. The Township’s elected Mayor and Council represent the interest of the citizens of the Metro Township. The Mayor of the Township sits as a member of the MSD Board of Trustees.
The MSD’s role is to evaluate the needs of all the Metro Townships and Unincorporated County and to use the funding to accomplish those needs. The MSD is the service provider and they oversee all contracts with agencies to provide the services. The MSD Board of Trustees also has sole property tax authority over the District (5 Metro Townships and Unincorporated County).
The Emigration Improvement District (EID) is a local district created under Utah Law. As such it is an independent governmental entity. It is governed by a Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees is not appointed by the Metro Township nor does it answer to the Metro Township Council or the MSD. The EID is the culinary water provider for portions of the Metro Township area. As such it has the power to establish rules and regulations that govern this service including setting rates and fees. The EID also has the power to establish a property tax to help fund the services it provides. The Metro Township Council does not have any veto power over the rates, fees, and taxes established by the EID.
The Emigration Improvement District's (EID) role in planning and zoning is limited. The EID does not have any power to adopt land-use control ordinances or approve or deny any land use applications. As a culinary water provider, its input will be sought by the Township Council and Planning Commission when general plans are adopted or implemented. This input needs to be provided so that both the EID and Township can plan for their futures. The Township’s plans will affect future demands on the EID for services and EID’s capacity will affect the Township’s ability to allow future growth.
The Emigration Canyon Community Council is a body established by the Metro Township code that the Township inherited from Salt Lake County. This code section can be changed by the Metro Township Council if it desires but it has not yet done so. Utah state law does not require any county, city, town, or township to create or provide for community councils but allows them to do so.
Under the current Township code, the Community Council’s role is to provide a mechanism by which citizens can organize to formulate and present recommendations on actions within the authority of the Metro Township. The current Township Code provides the manner and method of selecting members of the Community Council and establishes minimum roles for the Community Council in public matters. These roles currently include making recommendations on municipal services and on planning and zoning matters.
The current Township Code also provides that members of the Community Council will be recognized as volunteers in the community and requires the Community Council to hold its meeting in an open and public manner. It also provides a mechanism for the Township to fund some of the Community Council activities.