Summit County officials have captive audience with state representatives
Summit County’s elected officials and department heads were given the floor Monday evening to address a range of topics with the county’s current and newly elected state representatives ahead of the start of the general legislative session next month.
The reception allowed elected county officials and department heads to have a captive audience with most of Summit County’s GOP state representatives, including Reps. Tim Quinn, R-Heber, and Logan Wilde, R-Croydon, along with Ronald Winterton, R-Roosevelt, who was elected last month to serve in the state Senate and retiring Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal.
County officials have been working over the last couple of years to ensure state representatives are speaking on behalf of the county’s interests on Capitol Hill.
“When we started this it was about relationship building,” said Janna Young, Summit County’s deputy county manager. “But, now it gives us an opportunity before the session starts to tell them what our issues are so we can try and work together throughout this session.”
The representatives were given a few minutes each to address the issues they believe will be confronted during the upcoming session, such as tax reform, transportation, water and housing.
But, the majority of the evening was spent with Summit County’s department heads taking advantage of the opportunity to address a range of issues important to the county, including medical cannabis, water quality, the county’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, and how the budget surplus can help the county with its transportation goals.
State leaders recently announced Utah will end the year with a budget surplus of approximately $1.3 billion, with the lion’s share of it likely going into the state’s education fund.
Derrick Radke, Summit County’s public works director, told the legislators he realizes the county is not in a position to tap the existing surplus. However, he expressed a desire to work with the Legislature to figure out a way to take advantage of any future surpluses to help the county with transportation projects, such as bus-rapid-transit lanes, and improvements along S.R. 224 and in Kimball Junction.
“We want to talk about how we can work together to target future projects,” he said. “It could be another tool in the woodshed that we could use.”
Radke spent several minutes discussing how the county has worked with the Utah Department of Transportation to implement solutions to improve the entry corridors into Park City. He said the County Council recognized the county would have to take matters into its own hands to produce revenues that would move transportation projects forward.
“It’s not like Summit County hasn’t tried to help themselves,” he said. “I know with the amount of traffic that is being experienced down in the valley, it may not seem like we are getting a lot of cars up here. But, when your visitors spend 40 minutes commuting, you start to lose those visitors and that is a big hit for the county, Park City and the state.”
County Council Chair Kim Carson added that the prospect of the state securing the bid for another Winter Olympics makes accomplishing the county’s transportation goals “a lot more important.”
The state’s 2019 legislative session is scheduled to begin on Jan. 28. The county’s elected officials and department heads indicated a strong desire to work closely with state representatives on the issues addressed at the event.
“This was a great opportunity to for us to build some foundation work before the session,” Young said. “They may not have specific agendas or bills they want to run yet, so this was a time to put in a plug about how they can represent us.”
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