The length of the ballot received in last week’s mail is a bit overwhelming. The most important vote you cast, however, may well be on the backside of the ballot in the right top hand corner: Proposition #6.
It asks Tooele County voters if we should change our current three-member county commission to a council-manager form of government. The new form would create five districts with part-time council members. The council would then hire a professionally trained executive as our county manager.
Here is why we should vote Yes on Proposition #6:
Better checks and balances
Approval of Proposition #6 provides better checks and balances by clearly separating executive and legislative powers. Since statehood, executive and legislative powers have rested with three commissioners.
Budget, policy, ordinances, zoning, long-term planning, and day-to-day management decisions, have been in the hands of these three commissioners. For generations this worked well when responsibilities included a relatively small budget, county roads, the landfill, and sparsely populated unincorporated areas.
However, as the county grew, services expanded, and the budget mushroomed, it is painfully clear that this form of government is obsolete.
In the distant past it was logical that two commissioners from Tooele and one from Grantsville serve on the Commission. With all the growth (and more to come) in Lake Point, Stansbury Park, Erda, Stockton, and South Rim areas, does that make sense now? No.
Today, one strong-willed commissioner simply convinces another commissioner of their position — regardless of its importance and impact — and that is the way it is for Tooele County. That would change with the new form of government.
The five-member council will hold the qualified, professional county manager accountable. If the performance of this person does not meet the needs and expectations of the citizens and council, he or she can be dismissed and a better executive hired.
The days of waiting four years and choosing between two politicians will be history.
Homework by citizens
Two years ago, I was on the committee that selected 11 people to serve on an independent, volunteer committee. Over the course of one year, these people from throughout the county, rolled up their sleeves, held numerous public meetings, asked tough questions, analyzed reports, and interviewed officials from other counties.
They collectively logged over 2,500 volunteer hours in a comprehensive study on our behalf. They unanimously recommend Yes on Proposition #6.
Taxpayer dollars saved
Salaries and benefits for the three Tooele County Commissioners are among the highest in Utah. With five part-time council members and one professional manager, taxpayers will save money.
Change of direction
Einstein was right when he defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
A Yes vote on Proposition #6 gives us the opportunity to change the course of Tooele County and move us forward in a positive direction. Is the council-form of government going to cure all that ails Tooele County? Of course not. But it gives each of us the opportunity to have a stronger voice in critical county decisions that impact the lives of us, our neighbors, and the future of Tooele County.
Please join me in voting Yes on Proposition #6. It is far and away the best decision for Tooele County.
Charlie Roberts is a resident of Stansbury Park and a former mayor and councilman for Tooele City.