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Utah County agencies release annual progress reports

By Harrison Epstein - | Feb 3, 2023
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From left, Utah County Commissioners Tom Sakievich, Brandon Gordon and Amelia Powers Gardner watch a video during the State of the County address held at the Utah County Convention Center in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023.
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Utah County Commissioner Brandon Gordon speaks during the State of the County address held at the Utah County Convention Center in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. Seated at left are commissioners Amelia Powers Gardner and Tom Sakievich.

As 2022 came to a close, it was up to each individual department within Utah County government to write a report detailing their work throughout the year. With a small gathering of elected officials and other guests, Utah County commissioner shared the reports Thursday.

While the work is narrow and focused, all was done with a broad goal of preparing Utah County for what’s to come in terms of population growth.

“We have had fantastic economic growth, even through COVID. As other counties were shrinking and getting smaller, Utah County continued to have strong growth,” commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner said. “While growth brings us challenges with housing and transportation and transit and water, I would rather have the problems associated with growth than the problems associated with a shrinking, stagnant economy.”

According to Commissioner Tom Sakievich, the Utah County Attorney’s Office reviewed approximately 5,200 cases with about 1,600 coming from the sheriff’s office and another 1,000 by the Provo Police Department. He added that there were nearly the same number of cases heard in the 4th District Court as in 2021.

“These are not necessarily fun things but it’s something to be aware of because as the population grows, so do the wrong influences. So we have to be aware of that,” Sakievich said.

The Children’s Justice Center also saw an increase in work in 2022, helping 1,347 child victims of abuse between its Provo and American Fork centers. The justice center additionally held a series of screenings, interviews and mentorship programs to aid “children and families who are experiencing the crisis and chaos that follows the disclosure of significant physical or sexual abuse of a child,” the report reads.

The Utah County Assessor’s Office, according to its report, processed nearly 10,000 building permits with a majority, just over 5,000, being for residential construction. The other permits were divided between high-density, multifamily and commercial projects. Last year also saw a decrease in single-family residences being sold — which the assessor’s office attributes to an increase in mortgage interest rates — and in the median price of such homes, which was just over $600,000.

Commissioner Brandon Gordon, who was elected to the body in November, oversees the sheriff’s, surveyor’s and treasurer’s offices, along with public works and the county recorder.

Gordon praised the sheriff’s office and Sheriff Mike Smith at length, specifically highlight the work of the Special Victims Unit. According to the sheriff’s office report, the unit investigated 312 cases last year and added a new detective.

Through the year, the Utah County Jail had 11,776 bookings — 8,756 males and 3,020 females. The average length in custody was 16 days, the report shows, and the average number of inmates per day was 425, well below the max capacity of 996 people.

The patrol bureau covers Utah County as a whole, along with law enforcement services in Vineyard, Eagle Mountain and other small contracts. Across the coverage areas, the sheriff’s office reported 90,517 calls for service, 13,319 traffic citations and 4,026 arrests. In Eagle Mountain, one of the fastest growing cities in the county and state, the number of traffic stops nearly doubled in 2022 from the year prior. The city also saw 1,500 more traffic citations and 2,000 more total violations.

In its report, the surveyor’s office said it filed and stored 558 Record of Survey plats, showing publicly that a survey was performed, and replaced 59 monuments.

“Utah County construction has been detrimental to the Public Land Survey System,” the report reads. “As we go through and update our system, we are taking an inventory of all monuments that are obliterated. As we find these, we replace the physical monuments.”

The department seeks to replace each monument within 14 days of discovering it missing.

Public Works’ report detailed the department’s handling of everything from wide-scale engineering projects and planning to spraying weeds and clearing shrubs.

Gordon specifically mentioned steps taken on the Loafer Mountain Parkway Project, which goes from the Benjamin exit of Interstate 15 to Elk Ridge, saying it will have a “huge” impact on south Utah County.

“Kim Jackson and the treasurer’s office, like all the others, are working to automate and make payments easier and use less paper, and they want to increase in this upcoming year even more of the eCheck payments,” Gordon said.

In 2022, the treasurer’s office reported a 17% increase in online eCheck payments, along with converting 1,950 paper tax notices into eNotices. For 2023, they seek to increase eCheck payments by 5% and convert 3,000 paper tax notices into eNotices. The office also reported collecting $637,492,114 in real property taxes as part of $755,373,907 in total taxes and fees with 72% collected electronically.

The Utah County Recorder’s Office boasted a streamlining of the recording process while handling over 128,000 documents along managing parcel maps.

Powers Gardner presented to the public the annual reports of the clerk and auditor’s offices, which she oversaw before taking her seat on the commission, along with the Health Department, Human Resources and Information Systems Division.

According to its department report, the auditor’s office in 2022 completed its tentative budget on time, implemented an online payment system, developed an annual audit plan and increased the number of tax abatements completed by 13%.

The clerk’s office presentation was divided into two sections — one over elections and one overseeing marriage licenses and passports. The office reported over 17,000 passport services and just under 21,000 marriage services, which includes licenses, ceremonies and designated officiants.

Among achievements for 2022, the elections division included conducting a hand-counted audit after the general election and hosting informational booths while conducting a high school student body election.

“The goal of our elections office is listed as to provide efficient, accurate and secure elections by serving citizens of all political affiliations in a professional unwelcoming environment. The staff of that department has absolutely met that consistently, year after year,” Powers Gardner said. “We are excited in 2023 to have them continue to be the most transparent elections office in the state.”

She praised the work of the Information Systems Division for building and maintaining systems used by the county government. For the Health Department, she celebrated the group’s reallocation of resources to operate a clinic in Saratoga Springs focused on women, infants and children. In its report, the Health Department discussed COVID-19 vaccination efforts, mosquito abatement, monkeypox vaccinations, environmental health, substance abuse and more.

“The future is bright. Our forebears built this valley out of a desert. We can do this too,” Powers Gardner said. “Together we can ensure that our children and their children can continue to prosper right here and Utah County.”


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