John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
If attending a Grand County Change in Form of Government Study Committee meeting on changing the local government, you may notice there is not a lot of interest from Grand County residents. During the June 14 meeting, there were three people present and two were reporters.
By Utah law, Grand County’s government will default to a three-person county commission form of government unless a new form is chosen, voted upon and put in place by Dec. 31, 2020.
The study committee has been working to educate residents and gather their input on what they want to see in their form of government by initializing a survey with four questions.
In an update to the committee, Grand County Council Administrator Ruth Dillon said that county employees were given a chance to fill out the survey and 29 responded. Residents have had the same opportunity to answer the same questions at several open houses the committee held on June 5, 13, and 17 in Moab, Spanish Valley and Castle Valley.
Less than 2% of Grand County residents, however, have weighed in.
Residents can still participate by completing a survey, but the committee will no longer accept survey responses after July 4. Starting July 5, through the end of the month, the committee will analyze and summarize the data gathered through the surveys.
“I feel we have done our due diligence to inform the public in every way possible, and I feel like we have done a good job,” said Marcy Till, the committee’s secretary.
Committee member Bob Greenberg agreed with Till and said, “In the 43 years that I’ve lived here, I don’t think anything has been this well publicized, in my memory.”
Greenberg later said, “I want to express my sincere hope that this will break the community’s bad habit of getting involved in issues after they have been decided.”
Committee members expressed agreement at Greenberg’s hope for the community to be more involved in the process.
Committee member Walt Dabney was impressed with the community’s response to the open houses.
“Everybody that talked to me said that this was really helpful,” he said.
Dabney went on to say how positive the atmosphere was at the open houses.
“I didn’t get a single negative comment from anybody,” he said. Dabney further explained that residents, “said things like, ‘You weren’t advocating anything, you were just talking through all the different possibilities and this has helped me figure out what I want to do.’”
Residents can fill out their survey by picking up an information packet with the survey at the Grand County Treasurer’s Office.
Surveys will be available at the Fourth of July celebration at Swanny City Park, where the committee said it will have an information booth.
There is always an ongoing invitation to attend all county council and study committee meetings, especially before July 4. The only meeting left before the July 4 deadline is on June 21 at noon at the Grand County Council Chambers.
If you can’t attend any of the meetings, you can watch the meetings, which are recorded live on the county’s YouTube channel, “Grand County IT Services.” Residents can also access information at www.grandcountyutah.net/984/Changing-Form-of-Government.
PLANNING FOR LEGAL SERVICES
Next on the agenda, postponed from the May 17 committee meeting, was the approval of a proposed contract award for drafting the Optional Plan Ordinance. The ordinance will detail the new form of government plan.
Local attorney Steve Russell put in a bid for his services in drafting the ordinance for the county, not to exceed $3,000. It was agreed by some committee members that Russell has always been fair to the county, while another committee member expressed discomfort with Russell’s previous editorials.
Dabney responded by saying, “We’re asking him to write a piece of law, we’re not asking him for a philosophical position on something.”
All members agreed it would be impossible for anyone to write anything but the law, since the draft would have to be approved by the county attorney and the committee. According to the committee, there are only two local people who can complete the services in the contract and the committee decided to table this item until the next committee meeting.
“I do think we need to start moving on, in making some decisions on these things,” said committee member Stephen Stocks. “If we’re going to get outside counsel, we need to start making progress, that’s my concern.”
On the next agenda item a motion was made by Bob Greenberg, and later amended by Greenberg at the request of another committee member, to approve a contract with William Cooper in an amount not to exceed $1,000 for initial drafting plans for voting districts. However, the decision to hire Cooper to draft voting districts was then tabled after Stocks said he felt people wouldn’t like a draft on the districts.
“My other thought would be, I would entertain the motion to table it so that we could get input from two out of the seven of us that aren’t here,” Stocks said.
Toward the end of the meeting, the committee agreed to determine where the direction of the committee was heading for the months of August and September. Committee scheduling was a brief subject and they agreed that longer, and possibly more frequent, meetings will be needed in the future. The meeting was adjourned with the committee reiterating its main point to solicit input from residents through the survey if they want their voices to be heard because time is running short.
Residents have until July 4 to weigh in
“I feel we have done our due diligence to inform the public in every way possible, and I feel like we have done a good job.”