Editor’s note: This is the first of a continuing series on Tooele County Corporation’s offices and employees who serve the public.
Tooele County Clerk Marilyn Gillette has trimmed her budget by 8.9 percent for 2013. Although the clerk must run a leaner department, she is still responsible for a myriad of duties.
The county clerk, one of 11 elected positions in Tooele County government, provides a potpourri of duties for the public as well as other county departments.
With a 2013 budget of $409,776, Gillette, along with a staff of five full-time employees, fulfills duties as the clerk for the county commission, issues business and local beer licenses, conducts elections, manages the county’s risk management and liability insurance program, and issues marriage licenses and passports.
The office also keeps track of board appointments and county contracts, applies for grants, tracks state legislation affecting county clerks, runs the county’s mail room, serves as the record keeper for the county including archiving records, and operates a supply store for all county departments. Gillette has worked in the county clerk’s office for 22 years, including serving as the county clerk for the last six years.
As the clerk of the county commission, Gillette is responsible for publishing the agenda for commission meetings in compliance with the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act. Gillette prepares, publishes online, and maintains a hard copy of commission meeting minutes and documentation including official resolutions. The clerk’s office also keeps copies of all county contracts, and is responsible to notify the county attorney and commissioners when a contract is due to be reviewed, usually for renewal.
As the official record keeper of the county, the clerk’s office oversees the county’s archives, including the microfilming of county records. The clerk is also the county’s Government Records Access and Management Act officer, receiving and processing requests for public access to documents and information governed by the act.
The county clerk also issues business and beer licenses. According to Gillette, the county has over 500 licensed businesses in unincorporated Tooele County, which includes small, one-person home businesses to large corporations like EnergySolutions.
Businesses in unincorporated areas of the county, that either sell beer as part of a retail business or serve beer for consumption in their establishment, must also obtain a local beer license from the county clerk’s office. Currently the county has 10 businesses that hold a beer license.
Michelle Pruden, deputy clerk, is certified by the Utah Business License Association, an association of state and local government licensing officials. The certification required 24 hours of training in regulatory licensing, case law, interstate commerce, constitutional law, sales tax, alcohol licensing, and ethics.
As the county officer responsible for elections, the clerk maintains voter registration records, conducts elections, including early voting and by-mail voting, and prepares the final vote count for certification by the county commission.
The county budget pays for all general elections for county and state officers.
Municipalities and service districts within the county pay the county to conduct their elections. Gillette estimates that Tooele City will pay the county $36,237 to run its primary and general elections.
The clerk’s office issued 379 marriage licenses in 2012. A marriage license costs $50. For another $50 a member of the clerk’s office staff will perform the marriage, usually in the county commission’s meeting room, said Gillette.
Issuing passports is not a statutory duty of the clerk’s office, but Gillette chooses to provide the service because without it, county residents would have to drive to Salt Lake City to get a passport.
In 2012, the clerk’s office issued 935 passports. The fee for passports is $135. The county keeps $25 for each passport issued and the remaining $110 is sent to the U.S. Department of State. Gillette’s office shrunk in 2012 as a result of the county’s budget crisis. The county clerk used to be responsible for the county switchboard. The switchboard function has been fully automated, eliminating two part-time employees.
Gillette used to have another part-time person who ran the county’s mail room, sorting incoming mail by department and processing outgoing mail for all departments. The mailroom position was eliminated in 2012 and the duties absorbed by Gillette’s full-time staff.
The 2013 budget also did away with two seasonal workers who helped with elections.
The clerk’s budget varies from year to year because general elections are more expensive to run than municipal elections. The 2013 budget of $409,776 includes $51,000 in contracts for municipal elections. In 2011, which also was a municipal election year, the budget for the county clerk’s office was $450,240 making the 2013 budget 8.9 percent lower than the 2011 budget.
Gillette was elected as county clerk for the first time in 2006 and is currently two years into her second term. Elections for county officers, including county clerk, will be held in 2014.