First commission meeting of year 02

From right, Utah County Commissioners Bill Lee, Nathan Ivie, and Tanner Ainge are pictured during the commission meeting at the Utah County Administration Building on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Provo.

A board formed to look at possible changes to Utah County’s form of government is recommending the county put a question on this year’s ballot to change from the current three-person commission.

The board voted Thursday night to change the government to a full-time mayor with seven part-time council members — five elected in geographic districts and two at large.

The move, if approved by voters, would separate executive and legislative powers, which are currently combined in the three commission seats.

County governments can be changed in form by a vote of the people. Either the current governmental body can place it on the ballot, or citizens can place it on the ballot by gathering a required amount of signatures. The county government can be changed to include a five-person commission, an elected mayor/council form or a hired manager/council form.

A group called Strengthen Utah County had already announced in February that it was starting the process of gathering signatures on a petition to put the question to the ballot with the elected mayor/council form that was recommended by the GGAB. One of the original signers of that petition is current Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie, who strongly supports a change in the form of government and says it will provide a separation of powers to provide appropriate checks and balances that the current form lacks.

“We are excited to have ... the Utah County Good Governance Board join Strengthen Utah County in their support for changing the Utah County form of government to a Mayor/Council form,” said a press release from Strengthen Utah County. “... We appreciate the time and dedication of the Board members and we’re pleased that they unanimously agreed with our assessment of the best proposal to serve the citizens of Utah County.”

Several elected officials expressed their support for the vote in the press release, including Ivie, Cedar Hills Mayor Jenney Rees and Orem Mayor Richard Brunst.

“We look forward to working with the County Commission to place this issue on the 2019 ballot along with other Municipal races and reach out to voters about this proposal,” Rees said in the release.

A final report from the GGAB will be released in the coming weeks, and the board is scheduled to make its recommendation to the county commission at its June 4 meeting.

Strengthen Utah County plans to hold open houses throughout the county to discuss the issue, according to the press release.

Katie England covers local government, the environment and southern Utah County for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2599 or kengland@heraldextra.com.

Katie England covers politics, county government and southern Utah County for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2599 or kengland@heraldextra.com.

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