The process of dividing up Tooele County for a new form of county government has started.
Maps depicting five different proposed plans to divide Tooele County into five districts for the election of county council members were displayed in the hallway of the county building during the Tooele County Commission’s Aug. 6 meeting.
The division of the county into council districts is required by the change in county government approved by voters in the November 2018 election. That new form of government will replace the current three-member commission with a part time, five-member county council and a hired manager.
The county council districts need to be approved by the current County Commission in time for candidates to file and run for election to the council in the November 2020 election.That election could start as early as January 2020.
State code gives the responsibility of determining the district boundaries to the county’s legislative body, which at this time is the County Commission, according to Tooele County Attorney Scott Broadhead
Broadhead told the Tooele County Government Study Committee that the county clerk would draw up proposed boundaries to be approved by the County Commission.
Tooele County Clerk Marilyn Gillette has five proposed county council district plans available on her website at www.co.tooele.ut.us/clerk/council-district-maps.htm.
Following the 2020 election, the five-member county council will be the county’s legislative body.
The County Council will have the authority, by state code, to pass ordinances, rules and regulations — including amendments to the general plan, land use ordinances, and zoning designations, levy taxes, approve the annual budget, investigate county officers, audit county officers, set the salary of elected officials, veto hiring decisions of elected officials, and to consolidate or separate elected county offices.
The County Council will hire a full time county manager who will perform the executive functions for the county government.
In the November 2020 election, three county council districts will vote and select a council member for their district.
County Commissioners Tom Tripp and Kendall Thomas will become county council members representing their districts as of Jan. 1, 2021. They will serve as county council members for two years.
The change in government study committee report doesn’t address the issue of what will happen if Tripp, who lives in Grantsville, and Thomas in Stockton, end up in the same district.
Commissioner Shawn Milne, whose county commission term expires in Jan. 2021, would need to file to run for election to county council, if he desires to serve on the county council.
During the 2022 election, voters in Tripp and Thomas’ districts will select council members for their districts who will serve four-year terms.
This process creates three four-year council members elected during every presidential election and two four-year council members elected in every midterm election.
The county council districts must be contiguous and have no greater than a 10%, preferably not greater than 5%, difference in population, according to Gillette.
Out of the five plans, plan 5 is a rework of plan 1 to correct a problem with one of the districts not being contiguous, Gillette said.
Plan 3 is the sample district plan outlined in the change of government committee’s report. The other plans were developed by Gillette with help from the clerk’s office staff and the county’s Geographic Information System staff.
The County Commission has not set a timetable for adoption of county council districts. County Commission Chairman Tom Tripp said the commission welcomes input from the public by mail, phone or electronically.
The plans are available to view at www.co.tooele.ut.us/clerk/council-district-maps.htm.