Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson laughs with her father Ted Wilson after presenting her State of the County address in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

Just two months into my role as Salt Lake County mayor, I had the opportunity this week to provide Salt Lake County residents and employees with an update on the “state of the county.”

Having served as a Salt Lake County council member for 10 years — just across the hall from my new office — and now engaging with the county in a new role, I feel well prepared to share that Salt Lake County has excellent systems, exemplary employees and is an incredibly efficient government. Additionally, its budget is balanced, and it enjoys the strongest bond rating possible, just one of a handful of counties in the nation to do so, which means we can provide more services at a lower cost.

The county provides extensive essential financial and operational services — tax collection, surveying, records — that are the backbone of our broader community, but we are also its heart — serving the elderly, the young, the needy and providing stability and true joy to families.

Yet, despite Salt Lake County’s important role, citizens continue to ask, “Just what does Salt Lake County do?”

For this reason, I will be holding town halls over the coming months at county facilities in five locations throughout the valley to showcase the services Salt Lake County provides and get valuable feedback straight from the source.

While there are 18 cities and five townships within Salt Lake County’s borders, each with independent municipal services, Salt Lake County takes on a regional approach that reaches far beyond local boundaries.

It is this regional approach that led me to roll out a new county structure for the areas I directly oversee. In order to drive the critical regional solutions needed, we need to implement systems that will serve change. For these reasons, I have streamlined the process by the reduction of four deputy mayors to three.

A new area of focus, regional operations, will address our expanded regional role and consolidate planning, transportation, housing, economic development and environmental services under one service line.

We need to ensure growth is our friend, not our enemy. As explosive growth threatens quality of life, it is our duty as a regional government to drive regional solutions through planning, resource management and transportation solutions.

I’m encouraging economic growth and incentives that don’t just reward corporations for placing headquarters here but help economic growth within our various communities. This gives more opportunities to our residents from the bottom up, rather than the top down. Every zip code in our county deserves prosperity.

And we need to guarantee that new projects — like the former prison site development, Olympia Hills and the inland port, provide a net benefit to our community and address potential negative impacts. That means good planning and addressing environmental, resource and transportation concerns.

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The health and comfort for the most vulnerable in our county will continue to be a top priority as well. Salt Lake County is a critical partner in delivering health care through the recent Medicaid expansion. We want to ensure that healthcare is available and affordable to our residents. Our homeless population is depending on our new resource centers to deliver as promised. It’s our job to make sure they do. I will also stay committed to helping those suffering from mental health concerns and addiction, so they have an effective, safe and secure place to be cared for — before it’s too late.

While this is just the beginning for me as your mayor, and I’m so excited to work on new initiatives and efforts. I recognize our elected leaders and our employees have been providing second-to-none services for years. I look forward to continued collaboration in my new role and doing more to meet future needs. Salt Lake County will continue to enrich our residents’ lives. Perhaps I can sum it all up in these 10 words: We are Salt Lake County. We are here for you.