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Guest Editorial

RON PERRY, Snyderville Basin ResidentFormer Summit County CommissionerFormer Summit County Assessor

I have lived in Summit County (the Snyderville Basin) since 1974 and have seen a lot of changes in our community. I served as a county employee, an elected county assessor for six years, and six years as a county commissioner. Allow me to give my perspective on Proposition 1 to change our form of governance.

Here are two major points:

1. One of the impetuses to consider a change in governance was to expand the number of commissioners (hereinafter referred to as "council") in order to have a more fair representation (through election by "district") for all constituents. This was due to our socio-economic, cultural, and demographically diverse communities that exist in Summit County. According to the governance study* it states, "The Committee found little support for electing legislators (the "council") from "districts." The recommendation implies to have all five commissioners be elected "at-large" and not by "district." Should Proposition 1 pass, there is a real and strong probability that all five commissioners could be elected from just one, and very powerful, segment of our community. That would not constitute a fair representation for all the citizens living in Summit County.

2. There are people who have moved into our community who think they "live within" the boundaries of Park City because they have a "Park City" address. Every address with the zip code 84098 is located in the unincorporated areas of Summit County and not within the Park City limits (with zip codes 84060 and 84068). All municipal-type services (such as snow removal, road repairs, planning and zoning, water, etc.) typically provided by cities are provided by Summit County in the unincorporated areas of the county. There are six department heads who are currently appointed and under the direct supervision of the three-person elected commissioners. The other seven department heads are our elected officials. The three commissioners have divided up supervisory responsibilities over these department heads. Any citizen can e-mail or phone a commissioner with a grievance about a department. In turn, a commissioner relates this to the appropriate department head for action and remedy. This is accountability at its best for our elected officials.

Under the proposed change of governance, a "county manager" would take on these grievances. Not only would hiring a "county manager" create a layer bureaucracy in county government, it would have the propensity to insulate our elected commissioners from the public. Under the proposal, a "county manager" would have power to "appoint, suspend, and remove the directors of all county departments" (not the elected offices). This "power" currently sits with our three elected commissioners by a majority rule. The responsibilities and actions of department head should lie strictly within the direction and purview of our elected commissioners, whether it consists of three or five commissioners. This too is accountability of our elected officials at its best. The Form of Governance Study is on the county’s Web site: http://www.summit.ut.us/commission/governance . I encourage voters to review this document and vote NO to Proposition 1.

*See Form of Governance Study Section V.F

**See Form of Governance Study Section VI.A.2


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