Sally Elliott, 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)
Transportation planning has occupied a good portion of my term of office. The seated Commission had the foresight to fund a 30-year look at transportation infrastructure needs and the result has been a plan for funding and construction that accounts for growth and provides a blueprint for future transportation projects. The first project for SR224 is underway at Landmark Drive. Congestion on SR 248 must be a collaborative effort with UDOT and Park City to ease the morning and evening commuter traffic. The Richardson Flat park and ride with public transportation will come on line this fall. We’re working on a trail component to coordinate non-motorized access to Park City. I’d like to hear what Park City decides for easing congestion on SR248 and evaluate the above changes to see how they might be improved for the future.
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)
Several months ago, Commissioners asked County Auditor, Blake Frazier to request from each of the departments a budget reduction plan. At this time, the County Auditor feels we need not worry, but in the event that the economic situation worsens, each department will be able to scale back in a logical, orderly way. While we asked for a "worst case" 20% plan, we learned that a more realistic "worst case" figure is 5%. Property tax is somewhat recession proof, but sales tax, fees and building permits could decrease in a recession. It is my hope that if we need to reduce the budget by reducing the number of employees, we can allow that to happen by natural attrition. If we need to economize by reducing the number of employees, it would be prudent to move and/or retrain loyal employees to serve in other capacities.
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 language adopted by the electorate (Section 9.03) states: All candidates for the position of Manager must have at least a bachelor’s degree in public administration, public finance or similar educational degree from an accredited four-year college; and additionally, must have five years experience working as an administrator in city or county government. It’s important for a County Manager to live in Summit County and/or be willing to relocate to be a contributing, functioning member of the community. The search committee should be looking for a person with excellent interpersonal and communicating skills; one who can listen and learn and synthesize the needs of all in a collaborative manner. A county manager must understand the different requirements of agricultural interests, the special needs of a world-class destination resort, and be willing to understand the concerns of private citizens who live here. Likeability also ranks high on my list.
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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) I have been an elected official of both forms of governance and clearly understand the different roles. The County Council sets policy through legislative acts and the County Manager performs the executive functions according to policies and laws enacted by the Council. A good County Manager will inform the Council, consult on matters of policy and involve the Council in legal strategies, facilities needs and budget considerations. The County Council can be very helpful to the County Manager in communicating what they learn from interaction with the public and can be a conduit for creative ideas and the needs and wishes of the public.
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 public must be fully informed at all times of the work of Summit County. Our improved website has agendas, packets, minutes, archives and plans. It’s a work in progress and getting better by the day. The County Council closes meetings to discuss ONLY three things:
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)
When I ran for Summit County Commission in 1994, my opponent, Tom Flinders advocated creating Atkinson Water as an umbrella to ensure that the public had access to good water at a reasonable cost. I agreed with him. In future years, several water companies in the Basin were in failure. Infrastructure was failing and several neighborhoods were trucking in water. It was an emergency situation created by failures in the private sector. It is perfectly proper for government to be involved in the provision of water to citizens when the need arises. Mountain Regional Water currently co-exists with some very responsible, well-run private companies to the benefit of all. There is no inherent conflict. My opponent in a March, 2008 interview advocated the County selling Mountain Regional to Promontory when they come out of bankruptcy. I would strenuously oppose that.
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)
Eastern Summit County citizens are speaking up in meetings with the Planning Commissions. As a seated County Commissioner, it would be inappropriate for me to weigh in with specific comments that might prejudice their recommendation to a present or future legislative body. I hope that the decisions on code changes will wait until after a new Council is sworn in. As always, I will carefully consider the large body of input and give great weight to recommendations from our Planning Commission. The General Plan and Codes must reflect the long-term vision of the people. They are organic and they grow and change as the economy and philosophy change.
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)
That decision is scheduled to come before the Summit County Commission on October 29, ironically, the same day that this is published in The Park Record. I do not know how I will vote. The overwhelming body of public input favors denial of the expansion, and yet, the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission gave a positive recommendation for the expansion. I walked the area with my husband several weeks ago, and it appears there is room for expansion on the site. While the General Plan prohibits "big box" retail, this is an expansion of an existing non-conforming use. Legal findings and conditions for denial are limited. I must say that the current landscaping and appearance of Wal-Mart are less than desirable. If approval is granted, we must include conditions which mandate future maintenance and upkeep of exterior facilities. Stay tuned. I’m still weighing options.
9.Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.
EXPERIENCE, experience, experience. This election will determine the voice of Summit County as we transition from Commission to Council/Manager. I am the only candidate who has experience in both forms of governance. My opponent has been a gentleman and has been polite in his efforts. He is to be congratulated on his willingness to educate himself and address the issues. County politics transcend both State and Federal partisan political issues as we normally define them. I hope that in the future, the Utah State Legislature will enable us to elect non-partisan County officials ..but I’ll not hold my breath! I have conducted a vigorous door-to-door campaign, reaching over 3,000 households, from which I have learned your thoughts. Thank you for sharing with me. I can’t imagine serving without your input.