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COUNTY PLANNERS NOW WILL BE PAID FOR THEIR TROUBLES

Salt Lake County has joined the ranks of local governments that give planning commission members a stipend to compensate their toils.

The County Commission has voted to pay each of the seven commission members $80 per meeting. The commission made the stipend retroactive to Jan. 1.The county's planning commission holds two regular meetings and two field trips each month, which means each commissioner will receive $320 per month or $3,840 annually. The yearly cost to the county to compensate the planning commission will be $26,800.

The expense, which will come out of the county's public works budget, is well worth the service the county receives from planning commission members, said Salt Lake County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi.

Serving on the planning commission is second only to being a county commissioner in degree of difficulty, he adds. Horiuchi said the time required by planning commissioners has hampered the county's ability to find qualified people willing to serve.

"It requires an unbelievable amount of time," Horiuchi said. "We've often felt guilty when we walk by a Planning Commission meeting at 7 a.m. and they're still thereat 3 p.m."

On average the planning commission's meetings last 41/2 hours, according to Bill Marsh, development services section manager. While most planning commissions meet in the evening, the county planning commission meets in the morning.

At least six cities in the valley also believe the time and effort put in by lay planning commissioners deserves some compensation. Mid-vale, Murray, Riverton, Sandy, West Jordan and West Valley City give stipends to planning commissioners.

But neither the city most burdened with new development - Draper - nor the largest - Salt Lake City - compensate planning commissioners (see box).

Architect David Brems, chairman of the county planning commission, said the decision to compensate the board is a surprise.

"There's never been a request, never been a complaint," Brems said.

While the money is not essential and commission members are willing to serve without it, it will help offset some expenses, Brems said.

"Some have to pay for child care while serving on the planning commission as well as automobile expenses," Brems said.

Other members of the county planning commission are: Jeff Hawker, Joanne Frost, Katherine Platt, Kevin Whatcott, Kerri Nakamura and Vea Jean Hamilton.

Brems, who is in his second term on the planning commission, said the body often faces an agenda packed with as many as 65 items.

"We certainly have agendas that exceed 40 items. That's the norm," he said. "Salt Lake is busier now than it has ever been at any time in its history."

Representatives of several county community councils think the stipend is "very reasonable" considering the work planning commission members do.

"I can't see anything wrong with it," said Ross Pino, chairman of the Copperton Community Council. "I think they do all right."

John Rideout, chairman of the East Millcreek Community Council, figured board members were county employees.

"They put in a lot of time," said Rideout, who called the stipend fair.

Like Rideout, Steve Winter thought planning commissioners were employed by the county. Even with a stipend the county is getting a great deal, said Winter, first vice president of the Big Cottonwood Community Council.

One other county board - the three-member Career Service Council - receives an $80 per meeting stipend. The board meets as needed.

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Additional Information

Planning commissions

TOTAL MEETINGS AVG COMPENSATION

MEMBERS PER MONTH MEETING PER MEETING

Bluffdale 6 2 2.5 HRS. $ 0

Draper 7 4 6 HRS. $ 0

Midvale 5 1 1.5 HRS. $20

Murray 7 2 2.5 HRS. $10

Riverton 5 2 2 HRS. $15

Sandy 7 2 5 HRS. $40

S. Jordan 5 2 4 HRS. $ 0

South S.L. 10 1 1 HR. $ 0

Salt Lake City 11 2 4 HRS. $ 0

W. Jordan 5 2 4 HRS. $25

West Valley City 7 4 2.5 HRS. $25

Salt Lake County 7 4 4.5 HRS. $80