Publicly owned recreation centers within Salt Lake County take notice: If a private company can do the work better, you might get shut down.

The House reversed course on Friday and approved a bill that would force Salt Lake County and all cities within the county to create an inventory of all "competitive activities" that are not so-called core governmental activities.

In essence, public recreation centers are not quite on the chopping block yet. The bill just requires a listing so government officials can see whether public dollars would be better spent by allowing a private company to do the work.

But Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon fears the inventory is the first step toward a push for privatization that will eventually shut down recreation centers and golf courses.

"You can privatize just about anything if you really want to," Corroon said. "The question is what will best serve the citizens, will government or private industry best serve the citizens."

On Thursday morning Corroon thought Salt Lake County escaped a move to swap certain government activities to the private sector, when the House narrowly voted against SB45.

But then the House reconsidered the bill Friday, and approved the bill by a 40-28 vote.

SB45 originally would have forced all cities and counties to create an inventory of all "competitive activities" that are not a so-called core governmental activity. But an amendment on the House floor changed the bill to only target Salt Lake County and the cities within its borders.

But if an inventory is such a good idea, why doesn't everyone have to do it? asked Rep. Kory Holdaway, R-Taylorsville.

"If this is such a great idea in terms of inventory, then let's inventory across the state and not just counties of the first class," Holdaway said.

Rep. Craig Frank, R-Pleasant Grove, the bill's House sponsor, said government should "stick to the activities they are good at" and just use the yellow pages to find the private companies that could do the rest much better.

"They will know whether or not they should be involved with these activities," Frank said of the outcome of the inventory.

Frank is sponsoring another bill that targets activities on the state level, HB75, which already passed through the House and is awaiting a debate in the Senate. That bill originally included oversight at the county and city level but was removed during the committee process.

Rep. Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, said Frank's push for SB45 is essentially trying to make law what he couldn't get in the other bill.

"Isn't this just coming back and trying to do something we worked with you not to have in the bill?" Dee said. "I'm still not thinking this is something we want to impose on locals until we see how well it works at the state level," Dee said.


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