John Hanrahan, Democrat
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)
SR 248 decisions are made by Park City and the state rather than the county. However, all transportation in our county is now regional in nature. County and municipalities must work hand in hand for solutions. A friend and planner recently stated reducing traffic by expanding roads is like losing weight by loosening your belt. First and foremost, I strongly support traffic reduction techniques. This includes expansion of park and rides, web based share rides, increased bus routes, incentives for carpooling, and voluntary changes in work weeks and work times. Additionally, the school district can evaluate bussing students who live closer to school, reducing school drop-offs and pickups. We must foster bike commuting with safe and accessible bike lanes. Lastly, I would consider using HOV shoulder lanes and/or reversible lanes during rush hour traffic. Funds come from transportation assessments, state and federal funds, and county general funds.
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)
We may see decreases in sales tax revenue which accounted for 16% of our 2008 budget. Departments will need to find cost efficiencies and cost cuts to anticipate this likely decrease. Any decrease in fees/permits would also contribute to that need. Government grants account for 14% of revenue. If government grants decrease, those specific grant programs would be cut. Total existing residential/business property tax (27% revenues) self adjusts up or down (per legal requirements) and will not change. However the additional property tax from new growth will continue to be slow, preventing any budget increase in 2009. I would also reevaluate capital projects and determine those best suited for postponement until revenue streams increase. Consider renegotiating bond rates if cost effective. My work experience preparing multi-million dollar budgets will help our process. Council must seek efficiencies throughout operations while continuing to maximize services to residents.
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)
Foremost, we need a manager who will be responsive to your needs as citizens. The new County Council will need to find the best manager possible. We need a national search for the most qualified individual, accepting applicants both in and out of Summit County. A strong background in management at a county or department head level, or similar job expertise is necessary. He or she needs a strong background in planning and development, crucial and ongoing issues for our county. This manager needs excellent interpersonal skills and an ability to understand the diverse economic and cultural components of our county. We have rural agrarian interests, resort tourism interests, and everything in between. We need a manager who will advance communication among departments and staff. One who works well with our council and other elected officials. We need a manager who will help the new council unify our county.
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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)
Specific duties are detailed in the Optional Form of Government for Summit County and are on the county website. Very importantly, the elected county council retains power to veto directly or through budgetary measures, almost any decision by the manager. Thus, elected officials remain accountable to their constituents and power will not be concentrated in an unelected position. Council and manager must work very closely together in a transparent and amicable partnership to best serve the citizens of Summit County. A 5 member council allows for more perspectives on decisions, and more disparate viewpoints as decisions are made. I believe this serves our community better than only 3 opinions. The reduced time commitment has increased the candidate pool. We have an excellent array of experiences and strengths among the candidates. I believe my own strengths would bring a balanced and powerful voice to the table, to serve your interests.
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 have researched the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act. I do believe there are needs for closed meetings at times. Purposes of closed meetings are specifically designated by this state law and include litigation, property negotiations, and personnel issues, among others. Closed meetings are not a political issue, but a legal issue. The current elected county attorney and county commissioners represent various political views, but they all adhere to the same legal view stated in this law. I believe the current county commission and elected county attorney have acted within the law on these meetings. I do strongly favor making meetings and minutes and input as accessible as possible to the public. As your councilperson, I would seek as much public input as possible on decisions. As your councilperson, I would serve you as residents of the county and be accountable to you.
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) I absolutely support the formation of Mountain Regional Water SSD. At the time of formation, several existing water companies had failed to provide safe water, and/or enough water to their customers. I recall 2 neighborhoods that required many months of water being trucked in as their wells became contaminated or dry. When the profits for the water company evaporated, so did the company, and so did their water supply. When they went out of business, county residents had little recourse to get safe water. The county had to take measures to provide our neighbors with safe and adequate water. The county did this by forming the Water SSD. Currently safe and adequate water supplies on the West Side are provided by Mountain Regional and several private and municipal companies. There is system redundancy now in place. Mountain Regional is a cutting edge, cost efficient water supplier.
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)
I attended several East Side Planning Commission meetings including Town Halls in Henefer and Kamas. I have reviewed the recently released 67 comments from all 4 Town Halls. In addition I have spoken with many East Side residents about future growth. I believe that any changes to the East Side Planning Code need to be made slowly and incrementally with full evaluation of their impacts. My general philosophy is that private property rights must be tempered by community impacts of development. My own personal private property rights should not give me carte blanche to build anything I want. However, I do believe that the current zoning of 1-2 units per 100 and per 40 acres is too restrictive on the East Side. Finding the proper balance will take even more public input. I will continue to listen to all residents on these issues.
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)
Personally, I do not support an expansion of the Wal-Mart at Kimball Junction. This area is currently the most congested in the county and expansion creates traffic and problems that adversely impact this area. These are concerns for any development at Kimball Junction. However, my personal opinion does not change the process involved. This is a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), and Wal-Mart has met the requirements imposed by the Planning Commission for a CUP approval. Vast improvements were made to design, sustainability, height, lighting. CUP approval is an administrative decision rather than a legislative decision. In my understanding, if Wal-Mart meets the stated requirements, they have a vested right to this expansion. The planning commission approved this unanimously. I do not believe the County Commission will be able to deny the approval. Another big box near Home Depot would need very carful evaluation of pros and cons.