One thing is certain about the Tooele County Government Study Committee: No one can criticize the group for not working hard enough to keep citizens well informed and to receive public input on a possible change of government for the county.
But could a similar observation be made about the number of citizens choosing to participate in the process?
The committee’s public input meeting, held at The Coulter House in Stansbury Park last Thursday, was the sixth such meeting since May during which the committee openly explained its work-to-date and the options being studied, and provided an open forum for citizens to share their opinions on whether or not the current three-member county commission form of government is doing its job.
And just like the other five public input meetings held in Tooele and Grantsville cities, Stockton, Vernon and Rush Valley, the Stansbury meeting was not vigorously attended by citizens eager to proclaim what they feel is the best government for the county today and the future. As reported in a story on page A2 in today’s edition, only six attended the meeting, some of whom weren’t from Stansbury Park.
Didn’t Stansbury Park try to incorporate last fall, either largely or in part, because of dissatisfaction with being governed by the current three-member Tooele County Commission? For a larger perspective, didn’t voters across Tooele County, by a compelling 65 percent mandate, pass Proposition #14 in last November’s general election that created and empowered the government study committee to do its work?
We ask those two questions to urge everyone to recognize and remember what they voted for and what’s at stake.
Since Feb. 8, the Tooele County Government Study Committee has met almost weekly to — through observation, investigation and analysis — determine whether or not the county’s current three-member commission form of government should be retained. As required by state code, the study committee has to present its research and conclusion to the Tooele County Commission on or before Feb. 8, 2018.
If the study committee determines that a different form of county government would better serve citizens, its proposal will have to be passed by local voters. The other forms of county government authorized by the Utah Legislature include: an expanded county commission with five to seven commissioners retaining both legislative and executive powers, or a county council with legislative authority and an appointed county manager or elected executive with executive authority.
The six public input meetings, each of which were given proper public notice and written about in this newspaper to encourage citizen attendance, are crucial to the study committee’s observation, investigation and analysis. What citizens have said during those meetings may influence and inspire the committee’s work for the remainder of the study.
The committee has made ardent steps to be transparent and available to citizens, for it knows without such steps, its work won’t withstand scrutiny. As the committee continues its work through the rest of this summer and into fall, it is hoped more citizens will become involved in the process that may have far reaching and long-term impacts. Citizen voices and opinions are vital for this study to be done with excellence.