Changing the form of Salt Lake County government is a step closer to reality.
Two bills, one in the Senate and one in the House, propose various changes and corrections in the law governing change in forms of county government and county service areas.The bills lay the foundation for a new proposal regarding change of county government due to come out of a county advisory committee within the next few months.
"I think we'll have something ready by the end of April," said Bruce Jones, the committee's chairman. "We'll make a recommendation to the County Commission, and we believe that it will be placed on the ballot in November."
The commission is not obligated to approve the committee's recommendation, but commissioners say they will.
"As long as what (they) recommend is legal, yes," Commissioner Mary Callaghan said.
"I pretty much see it that way," Commissioner Randy Horiuchi said. "Everything they've done so far I've supported."
Among other changes, SB133, sponsored by Sen. Mont Evans, R-Riverton, makes clear that a county commission can change its mind after it initiates a change in the form of government - but only up to three months before election day.
"It's to protect the county clerk once they've got the ball rolling and ballots printed," said Sam Klemm, Callaghan's administrative assistant.
Ironically, the change would have outlawed the commission's action last September in which it decided to pull a change-of-government initiative two months before the election. Callaghan and Horiuchi voted to pull it over the objections of Commissioner Brent Overson.
The bill also does such things as clarify the roles of the county auditor and county executive - should there be one - in the budgeting process, and expands, albeit in a very limited way, the forms a county government can take.
Last fall Callaghan proposed a bill vastly expanding the forms of government a county could change to, but ran into opposition from the Utah Association of Counties as well as from fellow commissioners. The part of her bill making technical changes was split out and became SB133.
A second bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve Barth, D-Salt Lake City, makes various changes to county service areas.