Salt Lake County residents will comment on a plan to change the form of county government tonight in the third of three public hearings - but the plan won't be the same one considered in the other two hearings.
Tuesday the County Commission made various changes - some minor, some major - to the plan recommended to them in June by a citizens committee.Both as originally proposed and modified, the plan would change the three-commissioner form of government to a council/executive form. Should commissioners vote to put the plan on November's ballot (and they say they will), the changed plan is the one that would make it to voters, barring further changes.
Tuesday's modifications generally made the citizens committee plan more like the one the commissioners themselves created last summer. Though commissioners spurned his request to consult the committee on any modifications, committee chairman Bruce Jones was philosophical.
"We expected some changes," he said.
Most notable difference: council district boundaries. Although the committee had spent many long hours agonizing over the issue, commissioners didn't like the final result, primarily because only one of the six districts contained a majority of unincorporated residents. After minimal discussion Tuesday, they switched the districts to last summer's alignment, which contains two districts with a majority of unincorporated residents.
The proposed county council will have three at-large seats, which the commission modified to limit where at-large council members may live. At-large council member "A" may live only within council districts 1 or 4, at-large council member "B" within districts 2 or 3, and at-large council member "C" within districts 5 or 6.
The change is intended to made sure the at-large candidates don't all come from one place - say, Salt Lake City.
Committee chairman Bruce Jones had made much of the fact that his plan contained a dispute resolution clause, intended to reduce the infighting characterizing county government of late. In the clause, the county council was given authority to resolve disputes between county elected officers.
The commission watered that down to exclude disputes between council members and other elected officers. The commission considered getting rid of the provision altogether, saying it was problematic.
- The commission removed a provision requiring elected county officers (except the council) to meet regularly to discuss county business. There is no such requirement now, and commissioners pooh-poohed the requirement as unnecessary.
- The commission increased the annual salary of council members from $17,500 to $18,500, and the executive from $89,000 to $94,500. Commissioners justified the decision by saying the salary figures are a year old and have not been adjusted for inflation.
- The commission removed the requirement that the county council appoint and consider the recommendations of a committee when setting yearly salaries.
- The commission extended the time in which existing elected county officers receive their salaries, even if the government is changed in the interim, eliminating their offices.
The hearing will be at 7 p.m. tonight in the County Commission chambers, 2001 S. State.