County Watch |

County Watch

Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme jabbed at a local concert promoter Wednesday during a brief exchange at the Sheldon Richins Building in Snyderville.

"If you don’t like what the state is doing with their (alcohol) laws, I suggest you either accept them or get the hell out," barked Woolstenhulme at Mountain Town Stages First Chair Randy Barton.

Barton claimed the Summit County Clerk’s Office has refused to issue the proper permits for him to sell beer at shows he produces around the county.

He is still unable to obtain a temporary license — authorized by the state about four years ago — that would allow him to sell beer at events for up to 90 days, Barton said.

"I was told I cannot apply for a temporary beer license," he said, adding that the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control created the permit about four years ago.

According to Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott, "we want to be at least as liberal as the state of Utah."

But Barton says it has been difficult working with Summit County Clerk Sue Follett and the Summit County Attorney’s Office "on a rational level."

"Applicants need to be able to apply for what’s available," he said. "This is the season when people need to be treated with respect when they apply for a liquor license in Summit County and I don’t think that is happening."

Barton said he doesn’t encounter the same problems when applying for the temporary permit in Park City, because Park City Municipal "has changed their local ordinances to match those of the state."

Taxpayers shell out for fire insurance

Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme is against giving state officials roughly $325,000 to fight wildfires this summer.

Lawmakers formed a fund several years ago to which counties contribute money to help insure the potential costs for fighting wildfires. But as one of the largest contributors to the fund for several years, Summit County only benefited from the arrangement in 2002 when a forest fire charred around 14,000 acres in the Uinta Mountains.

"We told them last year, you either change it or we’re out," Woolstenhulme said. "As far as I’m concerned, we’re out."

The proximity of many expensive homes in Summit County to areas prone to forest fires has required area taxpayers to contribute roughly 30 percent of the fund’s total proceeds, Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier said.

To lower Summit County’s premium, the Utah Legislature passed a bill this year that allows more urban areas like Silver Springs and Jeremy Ranch to be removed from the funding equation.

The county’s payment, however, won’t be reduced until 2007, Summit County Public Works Administrator Kevin Callahan said, adding that state fire officials have demanded more that $300,000 this year from the county.

According to Frazier, the county’s adjusted payment to the fund should be roughly $168,000 per year.

"I’m comfortable sending them a check for that amount," Frazier said. "If they send it back, they send it back."

The County Commission voted 2-1 to send the money. Woolstenhulme cast the dissenting vote.

With nearly $1 million tucked away in a disaster fund, Woolstenhulme claimed Summit County could cover its own firefighting costs this summer.

"[The state is] pushing us just as far as they can," Woolstenhulme said.

Callahan added, "this is a bureaucratic bluff [state officials] have got that puppy pumped up to get as much money from this as they can."

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