Guest Editorial |

Guest Editorial

KEN WOOLSTENHULME Summit County Commissioner

In response to the recent coverage and letters of those favoring the change of county government, I would like to respond to some of the misinformation being given to the citizens of Summit County.

Fiscal impact: When the commission received the final recommendation made by the committee, which was not a unanimous decision, the commission salary was set at $1 for the first year, with future years to be determined later. Further, if the salary of the manager is to be similar to that of the Colorado manager, as mentioned in The Park Record, the manager’s salary and benefits could cost around $173,000 per year. Thus, the actual cost to the county is unknown, and it is disingenuous to the voters to lead them to believe that there will be no increase in costs to the citizens of Summit County should the new form of government be adopted.

Additionally, not one example can be given on exactly how a manager will "streamline" county government and save the county money. A county manager cannot take over or manage any of the duties of the elected officials. Managers can only take away funding from those departments. A manager cannot, by law, consolidate any of those departments, and if a manager wishes to save the county money by cutting the budget of those departments, the natural consequence will be decreased service to the community.

Government: I hear quite frequently that the county should be managed like Park City. This statement fails to recognize one critical fact: By design, cities and counties are structured differently. A city separates the legislative branch (city council) from the executive branch of government (mayor). Counties, however, have one legislative branch (county commission) but have MANY executives in the executive branch including all elected officials. Hence, unlike a mayor, the commission does not hold all the executive authority and cannot delegate it all to a manager. To support a proposition on the notion that, if approved, the county will be run more like Park City simply fails to recognize the inherent differences in the types of government.

Authority: Voters need to know that the proposed form of government takes from the commissioners any authority to control the administrative and executive powers they now hold. The commission would have only the authority to adopt ordinances and resolutions, and engage in other legislative or policy making acts. They would have the ability to hire and fire the manager and discuss policy issues in open session, but the commission would not be able to interfere with or control the executive decisions of the manager.

Workload: The notion that "professional" management of the county is necessary because the workload is too great for a three-person commission does a great disservice to our competent and professional staff. If the current elected commission would allow the other elected officials and professional staff to do the jobs they were elected and hired to do, the job of the current commission would be manageable and efficient as a part-time position, and there would be no need to discuss changes to the current government.