Summit County Auditor: It’s just that time
December 30, 2014
Blake Frazier casually reclined in his brown, leather office chair behind the desk he had occupied for almost 30 years.
A lot has changed in Summit County during Frazier’s tenure as the county’s auditor, including him.
When he originally left his position as a private banker to run for public office, the county’s population was around 10,000 residents and the budget was slightly more than $6 million.
At the time, the auditor was in charge of the budget, payroll, financial records, health insurance, and county personnel.
Over the years, the budget and population grew, and the auditor’s duties changed, too, with certain tasks being absorbed by other departments or positions, most recently with the introduction of a county manager.
But the auditor still served as the budgetary watchdog of the county, maintaining a close eye on the county’s expenditures.
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"Things sure have changed," Frazier said as he sat in his almost empty office surrounded by boxes, recalling his 28 years spent as auditor.
Today, the county’s budget tops $55 million and county has approximately 40,000 residents.
When the 64-year-old decided to leave the banking industry to become an auditor, he said it was an opportune time to try out a new profession. Now, he said it’s time for another change.
"I’ve just reached that time in my life," Frazier said. "I want a little more time for myself."
Although he’s seldom in his office anymore and is basically already retired, Frazier doesn’t officially step down from his position until Jan. 5, when Michael Howard will succeed him as auditor.
"The county is in terrific financial health and has a very healthy bottom line," Frazier said. "We went through the recession in ’08 and ’09 and hit some bottom points, but we were able to weather it."
Frazier has made significant strides as auditor during the past three decades, continually propelling the county’s business practices forward and saving taxpayers’ money.
"He has been a faithful county servant and he has worked hard," Council member David Ure said. "I believe Blake has saved the county a lot of money and he has controlled the purse strings very tightly."
About eight years ago, Frazier said he and his fellow auditors were able to change the laws surrounding assessments and collection of property taxes in Summit County and throughout the state, annually saving Summit County tax payers $700,000, he said.
"It meant instead of exporting about $750,000 to other counties, we now only export about $50,000," he said.
Probably the biggest changes to the county’s practices were about 15 years ago, when efforts were made to educate the county’s administrative staff about where money was being spent and on what.
"We have added to that program and that process every year since then and I think the result is a more concise and detailed budget," Frazier said. "We’ve have been able to save money over the years and have invested in larger projects."
About four years ago, the county rebuilt several roads in the Kimball Junction area in a $6.5 million project that was largely funded internally. The county has also been able to internally fund all major equipment purchases without having to do any outside financing.
"Blake is a very bright man and I have known him for more than 20 years," former County council member Sally Elliott said. "He was always willing to sit down and talk to me about budget and expenses and I was very grateful for the time he spent explaining all that to me."
Since running for public office, Frazier found himself elected into other official positions throughout Summit County.
He served on the Oakley City Council for more than 18 years and finished a two-term stint as mayor for the city last December.
During his time as mayor, construction was completed on a $3.5 million recreation park. But also during that time, Oakley endured the flood of 2010.
"It was a tough job," Frazier said of being mayor. "You have everything that comes back to you since the mayor is the day-to-day operator of the city.
"It was a lot of day-to-day pressure," he added. "But I enjoy serving other people. I think the most important thing any elected official can do is to realize they are providing a service. If you are not working with the people, collaborating with them and finding out what they need, then you aren’t doing your job."
With retirement nearing, Frazier said he’s ready to step out of the public eye and into his workshop, to hone his wood-working skills building furniture and picture frames for family and friends.
"I’m old," he said. "I have grandkids here and in Wyoming, golfing down in southern Utah and I want to do all of those things. It was a good run (as auditor) and I hope I did a good job for the citizens and I appreciate everything they did for me, but now it’s time to move on."
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