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City merger plans are done, now it's up to ballot box

Sun Advocate reporter

The plan is in place. The citizens will now decide.

During a joint session on July 16 the East Carbon and Sunnyside councils voted unanimously to forward a joint resolution for consolidation to Carbon County. The resolution will now be reviewed by county clerk/auditor Seth Oveson and placed on the Nov. 5 ballot.

"I feel like this merger has to take place," said East Carbon Council Member Darrell Valdez. "We live and work as one community. It's time we became one community."

With the plan in the county's hands, residents will now have the opportunity to review the merger proposition and discuss its meaning with area officials.

During the joint session, a public hearing was scheduled for Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m. The open consolidation hearing will take place at Bruin Point Elementary, which ironically sits on the invisible border that separates the communities.

In addition to the Oct. 2 meeting, each city also has plans to conduct their own public forums before the general election.

While the majority of officials agree that the merger is indeed necessary, there are questions that must be answered prior to the vote.

"My decision concerning this merger is going to depend largely on how city bonds are going to be paid back should the consolidation occur," said Sunnyside Council Member Shari Madrid.

Both councils have discussed payment obligations and the possibility of a special tax levy. However, East Carbon City Attorney Jeremy Humes explained that once the cities merged they would have the ability to review each bond. A special levy would only be necessary if a given bond could be shown to benefit only one city's population. Once the towns merge, it could be argued that each bond is now the responsibility population as a whole.

The problem here is that these decisions cannot be made until after the merger occurs.

"I want us to be sensible here. I want us to act like grown ups," said Valdez. "We can work this out. It's far past time we started getting along and helping one another. We need to help each other."

For the measure to pass, a majority of residents from each city would have to approve the consolidation. In 2004, East Carbon residents passed virtually the same measure but Sunnyside citizens rejected the plan by a margin of 105 to 65.

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