October 2, 2008
1: The two entryways into Park City, S.R. 224 and S.R. 248, are under stress from traffic increases, with backups at Kimball Junction being especially worrisome to officials in Summit County and commuters. Please talk about your preferred solutions to the two entryways, with particular attention to how the expensive projects could be funded. (150 words)
S.R.224 and 248 are owned and maintained by UDOT, not the County. According to the S.R.224/S.R.248 Corridor Preservation Agreement between the County and UDOT, traffic mitigation measures on S.R.224 include additional traffic signals, additional medians, intersection approach improvements and more adaptive signals. The Snyderville Basin Master Transportation Plan Phase 1 improvements focus on Kimball Junction and include the current Landmark Drive realignment, a transit hub, a park & ride, and new bus shelters for a total cost of approximately $12 million. The source of these funds is federal financing, transit sales tax, and the General Fund. Congestion on S.R. 248 (in the County) is a function of traffic accessing Park City. Summit County and Park City entered into a Cooperative Agreement this year to preserve capacity and identify future signal locations and accesses. Congestion on S.R.248 within the Park City boundary is outside of the County’s jurisdiction.
2. Foreclosures are on the rise as real-estate sales slump in Summit County. How would you respond as a councilperson if faced next year with an economic recession? (150 words)
If Summit County is faced with an economic recession, actual revenues will fall below projected revenues. The County’s budget is driven by these projected revenues. If revenues fall, expenditures must be cut. The revenues most susceptible to decline in a recession include sales tax, permits (including building and excavation permits), and recorder and planning fees. It is not likely that the County would feel an immediate decline in property tax revenue with the possible exception of a lower collection rate. Assuming the County experiences a 10% decline in revenue – or $5,000,000 of a $50,000,000 budget – the County Council may be forced to cut certain General Fund expenditures. Specifically, each department would be asked to submit a modified budget to the County Manager and trim the recommended percentage off that department’s specific budget. The County Manager would then forward the appropriate recommendation to the County Council for approval.
3. You’re vying for a seat on the Summit County Council, which will replace the County Commission when it disbands in 2008. Voters decided to change the form of government and a significant difference will be the hiring of a county manager to fill the executive role. If elected you’d help decide who is hired as the manager and could help divvy up powers between the legislative and executive branches of government. Please discuss traits important in a manager. (150 words)
In its first year in existence, recruiting and selecting the right County Manager is the most important decision for the new County Council. And, the recruitment process should begin immediately. For this critical position, in order to attract the best candidates and generate a sufficient pool of qualified applicants, recruitment should be nationwide. Because this is a new form of government, the Council should hire a manager who can inspire our local government officials with the enthusiasm needed to effectively implement this change. The manager should be adept at public relations and in establishing relationships with incumbent officials and employees. The manager should have experience in working in local government of comparable size (including budget size and number of employees), with a similar variety of services provided, and, if possible, similar geographic and demographic diversity. Finally, the manager must have experience in a position with broad administrative and supervisory authority.
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4: The new Summit County Council will function as the legislative branch of government in Summit County. How is the role of a county councilperson different from a county manager, and what do you see as the positives and negatives of the five-member board versus the old three-member panel? (150 words)
The very purpose of the County/Manager form is the separation of executive and legislative powers between the Council (legislative) and the County Manager (executive). Council legislative powers include the power to adopt codes, policies, procedures and regulations as necessary to provide for the public health, safety & welfare, levy taxes, and adopt and approve the budget. The Manager’s executive powers include enforcing the programs and policies of the Council, reviewing County books and accounts, hiring Department heads, and negotiating contracts for the purchase of goods and services. The current part-time Commission form does not allow for daily administrative governance. The benefit of a Council/Manager form of government is that, with a County Manager, management of the County will be centralized, more efficient, effective and economical leaving the Council to focus on long range planning and visioning. I believe that the negative is the confusion about the separation of these powers. (150 Words)
5. Discuss your knowledge of the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act and explain whether you believe elected officials in Summit County regularly obey the law. When is it appropriate for the Summit County Council to close a meeting? (150 words)
I understand that the purpose of the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act is to insure that the acts of a public body (which includes the County Commission and both Planning Commissions) are conducted openly, in full view of the public, and with proper notice. I absolutely believe that Summit County obeys the Open Meetings Act. Indeed, as a Planning Commissioner for 4 years, I know that the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission complies. It is appropriate for any public body, including the County Council, to close a meeting if, for example, the meeting is a strategy session to discuss (1) pending or reasonably imminent litigation or (2) the purchase, sale, exchange or lease of real property when the discussion involves an appraisal or estimated value of the property.
6.County was sued by a private competitor when it entered the water business by forming Mountain Regional Water Special Service District several years ago. Should officials have formed the public water provider? (150 words)
By 1999, a number of small water companies servicing the Basin failed, i.e., whole neighborhoods had no water. In addition, the pipes delivering water to many neighborhoods also failed. Eventually, the Basin citizens looked to the government for help. Ultimately, the County created a special service district, started bonding, and eventually acquired the necessary funding to build infrastructure, purchase water rights and get water to the citizens. Simultaneously, the County learned that water shares did not equate to actual wet water. So, the County passed a concurrency ordinance whereby any new development had to prove wet water existed prior to approval. I have no basis upon which to second-guess decisions made by Commissioners 8 years ago. But, we can learn from the past. And, as Councilor, I would do everything in my power to make sure that we never face failing water companies and infrastructure again. (146 Words)
7. Significant changes are being discussed for the Eastern Summit County General Plan and Development Code. Some eastsiders claim the current zoning rules are too strict and prevent them from benefiting economically from the development of their land. Others say most development should occur in cities and rigid codes are necessary in unincorporated Summit County to preserve its rural flavor. What is your vision for residential and commercial development in eastern Summit County? (150 words)
Rather than imposing my vision on the citizens of Eastern Summit County, I would prefer to hear the citizens’ vision. I believe Eastern Summit County is at a critical juncture and the citizens need to decide what they want their community to look like. Do they want private golf course communities or private equestrian communities (like in the Basin) or ranches and farms (as currently exists throughout the East Side), or some combination thereof? Toward that end, I believe that there should be a community-wide “wants” assessment conducted. The results of such a “wants” assessment would assist the County and allow for proactive planning and anticipate the its consequences including regarding water, sewer and roads. Moreover, it would be a great supplement to the East Side Planning Commission’s neighborhood meetings whose purpose is to determine how the citizens’ feel about the current Code with respect to density.
8.The Summit County Commission has debated whether to allow Walmart at Kimball Junction to expand into a Walmart Supercenter. How would you vote if asked to expand the store by about 60 percent and are there any areas of Summit County where other big-box retailers would be appropriate? (150 words)
I would vote “yes” to Wal-Mart. I did vote “yes” as Chair of the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission. Why? Because I had to. The current Wal-Mart is a legal nonconforming use, which means that under today’s Snyderville Basin Development Code it would not be allowed because big box is not allowed. But Wal-Mart existed prior to our current Code. That is why it is a legal nonconforming use. The process by which to expand a legal nonconforming use is the administrative Conditional Use Permit process. This means that if Wal-Mart establishes that it complies with all CUP requirements and mitigates its impacts, then there is no legal basis upon which to deny the application. After almost two years of process and at least two public hearings, Wal-Mart met this burden and the Planning Commission unanimously forwarded a positive recommendation to the County Commission. Big box is essentially not allowed in Eastern Summit County.
9. Please differentiate yourself from your opponent. (200 words)
The key difference between me and my opponent, Grant Richins, is that I understand and agree with the core values of the majority of this County’s population. My opponent does not. First, Mr. Richins does not support open space. The residents of Park City and the Basin overwhelmingly support open space as evidenced by the fact that they have chosen to repeatedly tax themselves to pay for open space. Open space is a core value shared by the majority of the population of Summit County – but, not Mr. Richins. Second, Mr. Richins, believes that our development codes are too restrictive and supports increased density, Again, this position is counter to another core value of the majority of the population. I believe that the Snyderville Basin Development Code is appropriately restrictive. Finally, Mr. Richins believes that we should geographically limit our search for County Manager to Summit County. I completely disagree. For this critical position, in order to attract the best candidates and generate a sufficient pool of qualified applicants, recruitment should be nationwide and should not be geographically limited. In sum, Mr. Richins will not represent this County’s population. I will. Please vote for Claudia! for County Council, Seat B.