Tom Hurd, Republican
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)
The entrances to Park City, SR-224 and SR-248 are indeed congested during peak commute times. Park City is a box canyon with just two roads in and out. SR-224 is the most heavily traveled route and the usual way for tourists to enter the area. It’s a modern 4 lane road so the likely solution is to live with it as it is and accept the heavy traffic during morning and evening commute. As to SR- 248 the City traffic study gives several alternatives and I support the changeable lanes concept. Planned growth along SR-248 will greatly increase traffic to an unknown extent. A PARK & RIDE at SR 224/I 80 would be worth a look and just the fact that Park City is getting built out will help reduce construction traffic.
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)
I believe we are in a recession now! Today’s (9/26) SL Tribune reports that the Legislature is looking for ways to cover a $354 million short fall. The Legislature is also looking at changing how property values are assessed. This could potentially further reduce county tax revenues. The current county budget is $51 million. If revenues decrease the County Council will have to make spending cuts. The way to do this is by first funding those items that provide services that the people cannot provide for themselves such as roads, Sheriff, Courts etc. After basic services have been accounted for all remaining programs must be prioritized and funded to the extent possible. In dire economic times I would not consider raising taxes.
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)
The Optional Plan of Government For Summit County, Utah clearly and concisely defines the powers of the Council and Manager so there is nothing to "divvy up". It also in Article IX: County Manager Section 9.03 defines the minimum qualifications of the Manager. In addition I would look for experience in a management position in a county of our size, preferably someone who is looking to move up to a better position. The Manager must also have great communication skills so as to act as liaison between the department heads, elected officials, the public and the Council.
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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)
In the broadest terms the County Councilors, as legislators, must assure the overall wellbeing of the County while the Manager, as executive, must see to it that the County is well and effectively run. The Plan mentioned above (Article IX Section 9.06) defines the powers and duties of the Manager. The benefits of this new form of government are many. The old Commission put the powers of the executive and legislative branch in the hands of 3 people. The new form will add transparency by clearly separating them. It will also relieve the Council of the responsibility of day to day executive decisions and allow them to concentrate on legislative matters.
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)
The Utah Open and Public Meetings Act (Title 52 Ch 4) is designed to make as much information as possible available to the public. It details noticing of meetings and other criteria that must be met. A quorum of a governing body can vote to close a meeting to the public. The criteria for a closed meeting are as follows: Personnel matters (strictly defined), pending litigation, collective bargaining and sale or purchase of real property. The minutes of closed meetings can be "protected" and thus not available to the public. I think the Commission probably follows the letter of the law but in general I do not favor closed meeting except in extraordinary circumstances. The act does not require any meeting to be closed. I think that, whenever possible, the public has a right to know what its legislators are doing and thinking.
6.Summit 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)
Competition is good and so I can find no immediate objection to the formation of Mountain Regional. I think the County Commissioners overstepped the bounds of reasonableness when they tried to take over Summit Water under the doctrine of Eminent Domain. The courts felt the same way and Summit Water prevailed. Summit Water then sued Summit County and others claiming that the County was " tying building permit and planning approvals for developers and others to acceptance of Mountain Regional as the development’s water provider " in restraint of trade. The Utah Supreme Court (No. 20040033) has concurred and found for Wasatch Water. This demonstrates why open meetings and open discussions are so critical to the functioning of all government. To the best of my knowledge Mountain Regional and Summit Water are still litigating. What a waste of our Commissioners time and taxpayer money.
7.Significant changes are being discussed for the Eastern Summit County General Plan and Development Code. Some eastside’s 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)
In April, ’08 I attended the Summit County Farm Bureau Spring Surfacing meeting. Those attending expressed concern over preserving the rural way of life and educating newcomers about the ways of farming. There was also concern about property rights. In July I attended a meeting for public input on changes to the Eastern Summit County master plan. Property rights were high on the list as was the feeling that the "west side" should not be telling them how to use their land. There is a definite difference in philosophy between Snyderville and the rest of Summit County and so I believe that those in the Eastern Planning area need to chart their own course. This is why we have two separate and distinct planning areas. There will be property rights issues that will need to be addressed through the public process.
8.The Summit County Commission has debated whether to allow Wal-Mart at Kimball Junction to expand into a Wal-Mart Super center. 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)
Wal-Mart is a hot button issue with lots of information and misinformation spread about. The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission voted unanimously to forward a positive recommendation to the County Commissioners. They were following the law when they did so. This is not a discretionary matter but rather adhering to the rule of law. If the County Commission were to vote against Wal-Mart not only would expensive and un-winnable lawsuits surely follow but it would go against every principle of justice that I believe in. Rules are made to be kept, not broken. As to further so-called big box stores I would defer to the public in this matter through the planning process and public hearings. If these stores were not fulfilling some public need they would not be patronized but would instead fade away as did K-Mart. I will not put myself in the position of dictating to the public.