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Officials may combine some county elected offices

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Hoping to save money and increase the efficiency of government, the Summit County Council is considering combining several elected offices in the County Courthouse.

Councilpersons might vote Jan. 27 to combine the offices of the Summit County clerk and treasurer. They may also decide to assign the duties of the county recorder to the Office of the Summit County Assessor.

For the new positions to appear on the November ballot the County Council must approve an ordinance to combine them by Feb. 1.

According to County Manager Bob Jasper, consolidating the elected offices could save money by eliminating some redundant positions.

By combining the offices backers of the plan say salaries would decrease. Including pay and benefits the treasurer and recorder each earn about $120,000 per year.

"There may be some immediate cost savings," said Brian Bellamy, director of human resources for Summit County.

Still, Summit County Assessor Barbara Kresser said mixing the duties of her office with those of the Summit County recorder would be a mistake.

State law says anyone who wants to serve as assessor in Summit County must be a licensed appraiser in Utah, Kresser explained, which requires passing an exam and attending about 150 hours of schooling.

By combining the offices "you are limiting the field of candidates and I think you’re doing an injustice to the recorder’s side," Kresser said, adding that there are no requirements for serving as recorder. Kresser said she has not decided whether she will campaign for another term in 2010.

Meanwhile, Summit County Recorder Alan Spriggs said he intends to campaign this year even if the offices are combined.

Combining the work of the recorder and the assessor makes sense, he said, adding that his office maintains all land records for the county.

"Could we cut expenses? I think we probably could," Spriggs said about consolidating the offices.

Treasurer-Clerk

Supporters say combining the duties of the treasurer and the clerk makes sense this year since incumbent Summit County Treasurer Glen Thompson says he will retire in 2010.

"This is an opportune time to look at combining offices," Bellamy said.

When reached Thursday Thompson said he is not opposed to councilpersons consolidating the offices.

Summit County Clerk Kent Jones said he will run campaign this year regardless of whether the offices are combined.

"My intent is to file and run again," Jones said. "If it is to file as the clerk/treasurer that is what I’m going to do."

However, with the treasurer responsible for investing the county’s available cash, haphazardly assigning that important job to the county clerk would be a mistake, said Snyderville Basin resident Henry Glasheen, an investment adviser who chairs the Summit County Republican Party.

"You’re inviting the notion that this is somehow for pushing paper," Glasheen told councilpersons in a meeting Wednesday at Kimball Junction. "The county treasurer and their investment adviser have an enormous amount of latitude."

The discussion about consolidating the elected offices began last summer. Officials have experimented with combining offices in most of the counties in Utah.

"There are a lot of people doing it," Bellamy said. "Not just in Utah but across the West."


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