Tooele County Commissioners reversed an earlier decision and instead voted Tuesday to hold a public hearing on their proposed plan to consolidate four county offices into two.
“It is very apparent a lot of people are interested in this topic of consolidating offices,” said Commissioner Jerry Hurst at Tuesday night’s commission meeting. “There is a desire to have public input, therefore I move that we hold a public hearing on this topic at our January 21 meeting.”
Hurst also indicated that the Jan. 21 public hearing would give the Tooele County Council of Governments (COG) an opportunity to discuss the proposed consolidation at its Jan. 16 meeting.
The commissioners voted unanimously to hold the public hearing on Jan. 21. There was no further discussion of their plan, which if approved, will consolidate the county clerk with the county auditor and the county recorder with the county surveyor.
Grantsville Mayor Brent Marshall suggested at the Dec. 4 commission meeting that COG should have the opportunity to discuss the consolidation as municipalities in the county use the services that might be affected by the proposed consolidation.
COG is composed of the three commissioners, and representatives from the county’s seven incorporated municipalities, and the Tooele County School District. They routinely discuss matters that affect their joint jurisdictions.
The commissioners first proposed to consolidate the county clerk with the county auditor and the county recorder with the county surveyor at their Dec. 4 meeting.
Clegg explained at that meeting the consolidation would make the offices more efficient and save money. However, when the commissioners were unable to answer questions from the public about the plan, including the amount of anticipated savings, they postponed action on it until Tuesday’s meeting.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Commission Chairman Bruce Clegg indicated that the commissioners intended to discuss and vote on the consolidation plan Tuesday night without more public comment.
If the commissioners want to consolidate the offices, they are now up against a tight deadline imposed by state law.
If they do not approve a resolution to combine the offices by Feb. 1, it will be four more years before they can implement the change.
State law gives commissioners the authority to consolidate county offices without a public hearing or vote by citizens. However, the commissioners cannot displace an elected official in the consolidation of offices before the end of their term.
State law requires that any ordinance consolidating or separating county offices must be enacted by Feb. 1 of the year in which county officers are elected, and take effect on the first Monday of January in the following year.