Alison Pitt, 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 traffic on both roads will require a considerable level of collaboration and support not only from the County, but from Park City Municipal, UDOT and commuters. I support the Snyderville Basin Transportation Master Plan, which includes multi-modal traffic control measures such as limited-use portions of roads, enhanced signalization, bicycle programs, rideshare programs, flexible work hours, and carpools or vanpools-but none of these concepts will succeed without cooperation and efforts from road users. Change can only come from personal responsibility. I take responsibility by commuting to work on my bike. I also support a third lane on S.R. 248 that would change directions with the commute, but this lane should be an express lane limited to carpools, vanpools and public transit. We should offer additional express public transit and park & ride lots in other areas of the County to business centers (i.e., buses between the east and west).
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)
My first step would be to re-evaluate the County’s current recession plan (which is a potential 20% decrease in funds across the board). I would propose to start with a 5% cut from each department, in conjunction with more targeted cuts to discretionary spending and look to prioritize essential services. I would look to reduce operational costs and functions in areas where the service demand has decreased due to the recession, but there are certain essential services that the County will need to maintain at existing service levels. I feel strongly that we should take advantage of the expertise of our local private sector and residents, and so I would establish a citizen budget review committee. The committee should be non-partisan and representative of all regions of the county. I would ask the committee to make recommendations on both operational savings and cuts.
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 Manager must represent both sides of the County, respect and implement the policy of the Council and provide executive leadership and accountability for staff performance. The Manager must be capable of avoiding the perception of favoring his/her personal agenda while determining when he/she should employ a collaborative process relying not only on staff, but also community input in decision making versus times when circumstances warrant a direct and swift decision by someone willing to be responsible to do what’s best for our community. Changing our form of government brings a lot of uncertainty with both staff and residents. I will look for a Manager who can relate with front line employees and reflect the face of an improved, more representative Council. Government is unique in that our citizens are both our bosses and our customers. We need a Manager who can be trusted to serve accordingly.
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3.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)
As part of the legislative branch, the role of the Councilperson is different from the Manager in that they adopt code and general plan amendments and they approve the budget. A five-member Council should offer broader representation with power that is decentralized because the Council will only operate as the legislative code and policy maker and will no longer perform administrative management of department heads. This separation minimizes political interference of the day-to-day operations of the County. A con is that one Manager is responsible for the operations of the County and its accountability. Citizens can perceive such a structure as less responsive because they cannot just call up a Councilperson to address their policy problem or change or address an operational issue of a particular department or employee.
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 is a State statute that provides specific, limited exceptions for closing a meeting which are: discussion of an individual’s character, competence and health, strategy sessions to discuss collective bargaining, pending or reasonably imminent litigation, the purchase, exchange or lease of real property (involving the value), the sale of real property, discussion of security personnel and systems, investigative proceedings of criminal misconduct and discussion of certain commercial information. I believe that elected officials in Summit County could greatly improve the notice and agenda of its public meetings. The agenda items often have short, vague descriptions. For example, I think that any items on the consent agenda should have more information-rather than just saying the name of the contractor and "contract," the agenda should provide what type of services they are purchasing and include the monetary impact to the budget as part of the notice.
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) Yes-water is a service that government should work to provide because there are a number of statutory protections provided to constituents, such as limits on impact fees and user fees. While I typically favor privatization, some of the water companies at the time had many issues from a combination of service failure, lack of sources and outright putting profiteering above the public interest. The County was left with little to no choice but to intervene. Water is too important as an essential service. However, rather than look backward, I think it is more important to look forward for opportunities to take action now that would prevent such a crisis again in the future. The public benefits from regional cooperation, including not only the economies of scale, but having redundant sources, a better connected infrastructure and increased opportunities for storage.
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)
Growth on the east side is inevitable, but it should be sustainable, managed growth to preserve the character of the community. I believe that it is the Council’s job to ensure that any new development has sufficient services and utilities. Changing densities in previously undeveloped areas should only occur after thoughtful planning in accordance with the public process. I believe that the Council should propose practical solutions to sustaining working lands, water quality, wildlife, and outdoor recreation as land uses change. I also believe that land-use planning should be balanced with the equitable treatment of landowners and that that any growth management should help establish clear property rights, not only for the property owner, but also for the neighboring property. As the County continues to experience growth, we need to properly plan and manage our infrastructure while not overly burdening our residents with the associated costs.
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 think that this question misses the mark. The question should really be, "Why is there such a disconnection between what someone can apply for and what the community believes is appropriate?" It is not the role of the Council to determine whether a business expansion is needed or appropriate, county codes should clearly delineate permitted and conditional uses in a manner that results in development which relates to the policy objectives that the community has agreed to by stating them in their general plan. If the use is consistent with that direction, then it should only be denied if it is demonstrated that adverse impacts cannot be mitigated. Additionally, a community that wishes to retain and encourage small businesses must provide direct and indirect incentives that make their start-up possible. The current impact fee structure can be very cost-prohibitive to the first year start-up of a small business.
9.Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.
The biggest differentiation is that I believe the Council represents not only a change in the form of government, but its manner of governance. I pledge to improve agenda notice, information provided at meetings and on the web, and the customer service levels of all County officials and staff. Meetings should be moved to the evening. I believe the power of the new manager must be balanced by increased opportunities for public participation. Unlike my opponents, I propose to use volunteer community councils to provide ongoing input in advance of decisions. Mr. Robinson touts his experience of dealing with land use and water law. However, this experience is from the perspective of a large property owner interacting with staff and consultants under the old form of government. This is exactly the opposite of the new perspective and openness to fresh ideas that I will bring to the Council. Mr. Shumway and I agree on one issue—that local government races should not be partisan and that people should vote for the most qualified candidate, not the party—but I am the better candidate because I bring a unique perspective and a desire to lead a diverse County.