Salt Lake City Councilman L. Wayne Horrocks is calling county officials "boss" since he started working for the county recreation department June 1.
Horrocks, 63, worked for the city police department's crime prevention unit until January, when he had to step down to take his City Council seat, which he won in last November's election.As a county employee, he will be in charge of senior citizen programs, the latch-key program and scheduling for the Northwest Multipurpose Center. He will earn $7.43 per hour, or $15,504 per year. For his part-time council job, Horrocks earns $10,000 annually.
Horrocks said he doesn't think there is a conflict of interest between his new employer and his political office, despite the fact that his paycheck will be signed by county officials.
"I covered this with the county very throughly before I took the position. I have absolutely nothing to do with setting policy," Horrocks said. "I had to make sure that that's the capacity I would be in. I just work for the betterment of the senior citizens."
Assistant City Attorney Frank Nakamura, who handles personnel matters, said his office hasn't been asked to consider the issue of having a county employee on the City Council.
"I think there are some issues that would have to be researched on that," he said.
It's no secret that city-county relations aren't always amicable, especially in debates over countywide services. The city in the past has had some heated arguments with the county over recreation policies, and officials have charged that the county hasn't provided enough recreation programs or facilities for the amount of county taxes city residents pay.
Having a county employee calling the shots on city policy could provide leverage, agreed County Commissioner Dave Watson. "I hope we don't view having Wayne as an opportunity to exploit him politically."
County Commissioner Mike Stewart, who is in charge of recreation, was out of town and unavailable for comment.
City Council Executive Director Linda Hamilton said she doesn't think there is an inherent conflict-of-interest problem because of Horrocks' new employers, but she said there undoubtedly will be issues where the councilman will have to abstain from voting.
Mike Peterson, associate director of the county's parks and recreation division, said Horrocks went through a screening process before being hired.
"He fits in real well with our clientele out there," he said. "We saw this as a real win-win situation."