Municipal Incorporation Records
This research guide is designed to help researchers understand the process of municipal and local government incorporation. See Incorporation Records for information on incorporated businesses.
Before Utah statehood, municipalities were incorporated through the Territorial Legislature. The legislature passed laws recognizing an area as a city or town, defining its geographic boundaries, setting the municipality's population classification, and acknowledging that incorporation’s municipal powers. Early settlements such as Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Provo were incorporated in this way and their incorporation charters can be found in the published Utah Compiled Laws of 1907.
The Incorporation Process
Today, citizens may start the process of forming a municipal incorporation by filing a request for an area Feasibility Study with the Lieutenant Governor’s office, creating a petition to incorporate, and gathering enough signatures from tax-paying citizens to trigger an election referendum. Once those signatures have been verified by the county clerk a notice of election for municipal government positions is posted.
Prospective candidates for town council, mayor, city attorney, and other elected positions, as outlined in Utah Code §10-3-2, file with the county clerk to get on the local ballot. Once majority winners are declared, the election results, along with the verified petition to incorporate, and a detailed map of the area petitioning to incorporate may then be sent to the Lieutenant Governor’s office. The Lieutenant Governor’s office may either accept the petition and allow incorporation or veto it. If it is vetoed, the petitioning group may restart the incorporation process with an amended petition.
Changes to Incorporation
Changes in classification (first class city, second class city, township, etc.) due to population increases or decreases, changes to zoning and/or boundaries, and disincorporation or consolidation with another municipality require that a city or town amend their original incorporation documents. This is done by submitting an amendment to incorporation to the Lieutenant Governor’s office, along with supporting documentation such as re-drawn boundary lines, census data reflecting the correct population count, or petitions to disincorporate. Like petitions to incorporate, petitions to disincorporate require a majority vote of all tax-paying citizens within the municipal boundaries.
Accessing Municipal Incorporation Records
Incorporation documents are primarily found in the Lieutenant Governor's City and town information files, now also available online. In addition, selected municipalities are included from county incorporation record series (which are mostly for business incorporations). The collection is organized alphabetically by municipality name and then separated into “Incorporation” and “Amendments to Incorporation” for easier browsing. To research older municipalities, review the Utah Compiled Laws of 1907 (available in Utah Government Digital Library).
|City and town information files (incorporation papers)||View Online||Series 20220|
|Piute County (Utah). County Clerk|
|Incorporation case files||View Online||Series 3761|
|Uintah County (Utah). County Clerk|
|Incorporation case files||View Online||Series 5015|
|Washington County (Utah). County Clerk|
|Incorporation case files||View Online||Series 17893|
Written and compiled by Avalon Snell
Originally published in August 2020
Page Last Updated August 26, 2020.