If last year's election season inspired you to be more involved in your local government, make a resolution to follow through. It may be easier than you think.
Summit County and Park City Municipal Corp. each has numerous volunteer advisory boards and commissions. Some are looking for new members right now; others have members whose terms will be ending in the spring and summer.
Typically, the only requirements are that applicants live within the board's jurisdiction and are willing to commit to attending the weekly or monthly meetings. They are not paid positions. The compensation is knowing that you are serving your community.
As we recently reported, the Summit County Sheriff's Department is soliciting applications for its Citizens' Advisory Board. Members serve as a sounding board for the sheriff and may be asked to review specific incidents involving, for instance, an officer's use of force or various department policies. The Park City Police Department has a similar board.
Both boards serve an important function as a liaison and/or buffer between the needs of law enforcement personnel and the public. If you have strong feelings about law enforcement and/or personal freedoms, this is an opportunity to learn more and affect public policy.
Park City citizens are currently being sought to serve on an Open Space Advisory Committee that will help determine how money set aside for open space purchases will be spent. This is a great opportunity to help determine how those hard-earned sales-tax dollars will be spent. No special expertise is required, but a passion for conservation and/or recreation along with a willingness to serve the greatest public good are important traits that will help the committee make the best long-term decisions. Summit County has a similar board as well.
Both the city and the county rely on citizen volunteers to steer public policy, especially when it comes to arts, recreation and library services. Over the years, members of these boards have helped shape new programs and facilities and have helped to select public-art projects that have since become community landmarks.
Regular citizens are also called on to help divvy up resort and restaurant-tax revenues by serving on grant committees. The grants are eagerly awaited by a wide variety of local nonprofit agencies that provide programs to local residents.
There are plenty of other opportunities to share your expertise and contribute to your community. The city and county rely on citizen volunteers to serve on cemetery, health, mosquito abatement and agricultural-protection boards. Each board offers an opportunity to get to know your neighbors, learn about issues that impact your quality of life, and make a positive contribution.