Why We Need Change
Utah County is the second largest county in Utah and one of the fastest growing counties in the state. We currently have approximately 620,000 residents and recent projections indicate we will have 1.6 million residents by 2065. With this rapid growth, it is essential that we plan for the future in a way that addresses the needs of a growing population while also preserving the quality of life we enjoy in Utah County. As part of this, it is time for us to change our county form of government to one that is more responsive to the needs of a growing area, one that includes a separation of powers for better checks and balances and through regional representation.
Because of the growth we are experiencing and due to some dysfunction that has existed in our county government there has been quite a bit of discussion about the need for change. As part of this discussion, in 2019, the Utah County Commissioners voted to create an independent committee to study this issue. Known as the Good Governance Advisory Board (GGAB), this committee consisted of business and education leaders, elected officials, and involved citizens from throughout Utah County. They were tasked with researching the forms of government allowed by Utah law, receiving input from the public, and making a recommendation to the commissioners.
The committee held nine public meetings where they heard from the public and discussed their research. They reviewed the four forms of county government allowed by law, which included the existing three commissioner model, an expanded county commission of five or seven part-time members, an executive-council model (often referred to as a mayor-council), and a council-manager. At their last meeting, the committee unanimously agreed on the following recommendations:
The county form of government should change to an executive-council form with a full-time elected mayor and a seven-member part-time county council that has five seats elected by district and two elected at-large.
The new government should also include a professionally trained Chief Administrative Officer to aid in the day-to-day management of the county.
The county commissioners should put this question on the ballot in November 2019.
The county commissioners should create a non-partisan committee to determine the boundaries of the five districts.
The county commissioners should establish a compensation committee to make a recommendation on the appropriate salaries for elected officials and staff of the newly formed government.
The county commissioners should educate the public on how this new form of government better holds elected officials accountable, improves representation of all areas of the county, and how the transition will be funded.
The committee chair made a presentation to the commissioners with the above recommendations. However, before the commissioners could vote on the recommendations, a petition was filed to move to an expanded commissioner form of government, which prevented the commissioners from putting this on the ballot in November 2019. It wasn’t until six months later when the petitioners failed to gather enough signatures that the commissioners were able to vote on placing a form of government change on the ballot for the voters of Utah County.
While keeping the main points of the committee’s recommendations, the commissioners modified the plan so that it could be implemented with the existing county budget. The optional plan that will be on the ballot this year is for an executive-council form of government with a full-time mayor and five part-time council members who will be elected from five regional districts. If it passes this year, the new officials will be elected in the November 2022 election with the new form of government becoming effective in January 2023.
It is time for us to have a better county form of government. This November vote YES on changing to an executive-council form of government.
Together We Will Build a Better Future