The second in a series of public hearings on a proposed change in Salt Lake County's form of government didn't exactly draw a big crowd last week at City Hall.
In fact, only five people turned out to discuss the merits of a plan that could replace the current three-member county commission with a nine-member council and an elected county executive.And those folks were outnumbered 2-to-1 by a contingent of two county commissioners, a half dozen county staffers and two members of the governmental revision study committee that attended the 90-minute hearing.
But the session turned spirited as residents debated a variety of issues, ranging from the projected costs of the plan to constituent representation and the separation of legislative and executive functions of county government.
Lynn Price, a member of the study committee that came up with the plan, said she opposes the proposed change because she believes it would lead to territorial turf battles and cost taxpayers far more money to operate.
"I think we're safer staying with our current form of government," she added. "There would be fewer problems, from my perspective.
That view was disputed by another study committee member, Jim Leigh, who said the county council would lead to improved representation and provide council members with authority to resolve disputes between county officials.
He said any projections of higher operating costs are "unwarranted" at this point in time, and added that "all of the evidence . . . points toward a need for change."
LeeAnn Stillman of the Holladay-Cottonwood area told county officials she fears one outcome of the change might be a loss of representation for unincorporated areas when six new voting districts are formed.
Of the nine council members, one each would come from the six districts and the other three would be elected at-large.
And Roger Fadness of West Jordan warned that expanding from three commissioners to nine council members will probably result in more bureaucracy and increased costs to taxpayers without yielding any significant benefits.
The third and final public hearing will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the County Commission chambers, 2001 S. State.
Once the hearing process is complete, the commission has until Aug. 15 to decide whether to put the proposed change in government on the November general election ballot.
However, Commissioner Brent Overson said he and other commissioners have already agreed to place the matter in the hands of Salt Lake County voters this fall once they have fine-tuned the ballot proposition.