by Zak Podmore
The push to make Bluff an incorporated town cleared another hurdle last week when Utah’s Lieutenant Governor’s Office released a comprehensive feasibility study analyzing Bluff’s local economy.
The 37-page report, which was compiled by Bonneville Research in Salt Lake City, concluded that Bluff is eligible for incorporation and that such a move would be economically feasible without increasing any taxes.
“An analysis of the fiscal, demographic and economic issues suggests that [Bluff] could become a viable and sustainable town,” the report stated.
Bluff is currently managed as an unincorporated service area within the county.
San Juan County’s firt permanent settlement has been incorporated in the past.
The study projects that sales and property tax revenue generated within the proposed town limits will exceed municipal costs over the next five years if services are maintained at current levels.
Brant Murray, co-chair of the incorporation committee, said, “We’ve worked on incorporation for a year, and it’s great to finally see the results of the study. We’re very excited, especially with the study saying no that tax increase is necessary.”
Last February, more than half of the registered voters in Bluff, and property owners representing nearly half of the assessed value of property in the proposed town limits, signed a petition to initiate the feasibility study.
Murray believes an incorporated Bluff would have more decision making power at the local and county levels, including the ability to create town planning and zoning codes.
“Right now we don’t have an official voice as a town,” said Murray. “We need to have a seat at the table for discussions in San Juan County.”
On August 8, the Lt. Governor’s Office will host a public hearing in at the Bluff Community Center at 7 p.m. The meeting will addresss the report, the election, and the incorporation process.
The incorporation committee says the meeting “will give residents the chance to ask questions about the feasibility study and express their opinions about the prospect of incorporating as an official town.”
Then on November 7, Bluff’s 265 residents will have the opportunity to vote on the incorporation proposal. Permanent residents who live within the proposed town limits and who are registered to vote will be eligible to participate.
If the proposal passes, town council elections will be held in June, 2018.