The Utah County Commission moved on Wednesday to postpone its discussion about amending the county’s 2021 general fund budget and other budgetary funds for two weeks.
The commission was set to consider budget changes put forward by Commissioner Tom Sakievich. However, the commissioner told his colleagues that “this morning I had some new information come up that may impact the plan that we have put in place, and I do not have the final information back.”
“And so I’m requesting that we continue this discussion (for) two weeks to allow me to get that information solidified,” said Sakievich.
The discussion took place weeks after Sakievich and Commissioner Bill Lee announced that they would consider amending the county’s 2021 budget and rolling back a controversial 2019 property tax increase.
Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner, who took office in April after resigning as Utah County Clerk/Auditor, criticized Sakievich for putting together a proposal with little notice and said that “as we go through and we look at budget adjustments, I think that we need to have more process to how we do these budget adjustments.”
“I think that, at a minimum, we should have two weeks of input on any budget adjustment, and that doesn’t mean that we let people know that there will be a budget adjustment, and then 24 hours before we come up with numbers,” said Gardner, who clashed with Sakievich and Lee earlier this year over a widely denounced proposal to move budget staff directly under the commission. “I would request that we have at least two weeks to discuss any budget adjustment, and that’s after we have the numbers.”
The former clerk/auditor noted that the county’s budget staff has “a lot of job responsibilities” and said that “every time we pull them off to work on a budget amendment with hours notice, or even days notice … (it) makes it harder for us to have the information that we need to have valid budgets.”
Gardner added that the commission cannot “expect people to drop everything they’re doing, cancel every meeting that they have with every other department in this county so that we can look at a budget adjustment with hours notice.”
“It’s basically the epitome of government inefficiency,” she said.
Lee agreed with postponing the discussion about budget amendments, noting that he “was prepared to say, ‘You know what, I’m going to need a little bit more time on this as well.’”
Gardner got into a back-and-forth with Sakievich after she said that “there needs to be a better process that allows for more input, allows for more respect for the staff and allows for more respect for our fellow elected officials and the department heads.”
“Insinuating that there has been a lack of respect is not what has happened,” Sakievich quickly shot back. “It has been an ongoing discussion, it has been a weekly discussion, directly and indirectly. … But there has been no disrespect of any staff members.”
Gardner replied, “I think giving people four hours notice for a budget change is disrespectful. I think it’s indirect, but I think it is disrespectful.”
“I have no further comment,” said Sakievich.
The commission voted unanimously to continue the budget amendments discussion and public hearing until 2 p.m. on May 26.