A committee charged with figuring out what form of government Salt Lake County ought to adopt is having a hard time deciding the boundaries of council districts.
What's more, committee member Jack Gallivan is throwing a wrench into the gears - again.The committee has almost completed its work. Over a series of weekly meetings dating from last fall, it has voted to recommend that the county change from a three-member commission form to a council/executive form, with the council having nine members and the executive being a single person.
But deciding what areas each council member will represent is proving to be a bit of a problem. The committee has decided to have three council members elected at-large, leaving six to represent districts.
But what kind of districts, with what boundaries? The question impacts various philosophies on what role cities and unincorporated areas should play in county governance.
At the committee's most recent meeting Tuesday, deputy county clerk Nick Floros presented three options:
- Combine various state legislative districts to form each council district.
- Combine cities and unincorporated areas to form each council district.
- Have two council members represent primarily unincorporated areas, giving residents there more of a voice.
That last option was the abortive plan the County Commission proposed last year, but committee member Lynn Price didn't much like it. "We need to be careful not to choose a form of government just to placate the unincorporated areas," she grumbled.
Price wasn't all that thrilled about the second option either, since she thought it would promote "turfism" among council members, each of whom would be looking out solely for the interests of the cities he or she represents.
The other members tended to agree with Price regarding the second option and were leaning toward the first or third option when they finally put off voting for a week to think about things for a while.
"We might be dooming (the entire plan) to failure" by adopting the wrong districting, committee member and Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said.
As is becoming standard practice, Gallivan had his own ideas entirely. Twice before he had proposed a scheme whereby council members would represent cities or combinations of cities, each council member's vote being weighted by the population he or she represents.
Such an arrangement would presumably facilitate consolidation of services such as police and fire, something dear to Gallivan's heart.
Both times, the committee shot Gallivan's idea down, but Tuesday he was back at it, proposing a modification of the idea that had the rest of the committee mumbling and griping and generally pooh-poohing it.
"Some cities would be made second-class citizens by weighted voting," committee chairman Bruce Jones said.
Jones has said he hopes to wind up the committee's work by the end of April, giving a final recommendation to the County Commission. The commission will then decide whether to put it on November's ballot for voter approval.