Some issues are city issues, some are county issues, and some are city and county issues.
Because governments tend to look after their own interests, issues involving more than one level of government often cause bad feelings.Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert said there is no reason for bad feelings to exist between governments. He believes if public officials communicate and discuss all sides of an issue, most bad feelings can be eliminated.
And Herbert said there is only one organization that encourages that kind of communication - the Utah County Council of Governments.
"As cities in Utah County, we are neighbors and we should be happy for the success we have as neighbors and communities. But to do so we must have unity and teamwork, and COG is the one group with the atmosphere to accomplish that," Herbert said.
The council, made up of the county's 21 mayors and three commissioners, meets the first Thursday of each month. The issues discussed usually affect more than one city.
However, the monthly meeting is seldom attended by all 21 mayors. Herbert, elected this year as chairman, said that's because some officials, like many residents, don't realize the importance of COG's role.
"Cities are not alone and do need to lean on each other. We should all be happy with the success we have as neighbors, and not so protective of our territorial interests," he said.
It's those territorial interests that Herbert says cause bad feeling between governments. City council members and other city officials seldom become involved in an issue on a countywide level. For that reason, they tend to be uninformed on certain issues and don't totally understand the benefits and drawbacks when making decisions, he said.
"If we work independently we may have a lot of rhetoric, but nothing gets done. If we work as a team and communicate, the bottom line is we are going to have a better place to live and a better place to raise our children. And that should be the goal of every public official," Herbert said.
"It's through that forum that we are able to educate each other and make better decisions," he said.
Next week, residents will vote on the Utah Valley Special Events Center. Residents will likely decide this fall whether to build a new jail. Officials will have to make some key decisions in the next year on housing and environmental issues. Local leaders need to be informed on these issues because they will have an impact on the county for decades, Herbert said.
Local politics is not COG's only concern. The organization is a strong state lobbying force in the Legislature.