Randy Horiuchi, a newly elected Salt Lake County commissioner, says taxpayers aren't getting their money's worth when it comes to the Utah Association of Counties.
In fact, he says, Salt Lake County is treated about as well by the association as the United States was by the United Nations in its earlier years.The county will contribute $109,858 in 1991 for dues and legal fees, more than any of the other 28 counties in the state. But the county likely will be opposed by most of the other members when it comes to getting laws passed through the state Legislature.
"If I was a Salt Lake County taxpayer, and I found out I was paying $100,000 to an organization that continually pummels the county, it would be a major concern," Horiuchi said. "We provide one half of the money and always come out on the short end."
The problem is that rural and urban counties don't often see eye-to-eye on major issues, and sometimes it costs Wasatch Front taxpayers. For instance, the Legislature requires Salt Lake County to send some of its tax money to rural counties who can't collect enough to cover the cost of collecting taxes.
Brent Gardner, director of the association, said rural-urban disputes have surfaced periodically during the association's 65-year history.
Changes may come. Horiuchi's comments are supported by Republican Commissioner Mike Stewart. "The outlying areas have a dislike for Salt Lake City and County," he said.
Neither Horiuchi nor Stewart wants the county to leave the association. Instead, they will consider several options. Among them:
- Make each county contribute the same amount for dues.
- Eliminate the one-vote-per-county rule and allow Salt Lake County more votes based on its population.