Utah County Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner abstained from voting on a commission staff proposal on Wednesday over concern that it had not been properly vetted.

The proposal, which commissioners Bill Lee and Tom Sakievich passed on a 2-0 vote during Wednesday’s commission meeting, adds two full-time budget administration positions underneath the county commission, while also removing a full-time career service budget manager position from the Utah County Clerk/Auditor’s Office.

Gardner said she was not opposed to the latter change, noting that the eliminated position was a temporary role, funded through CARES Act money, that expired at the end of June.

But Gardner said she was concerned about approving two new staff positions under the county commission, which she said she doesn’t see justification for.

“I do not currently see enough workload to justify even having one full-time position in the commission who is a budget project coordinator, let alone two,” she said. “So I’m just not seeing the workload.”

The “kicker,” added Gardner, is “the fact that the commission used a process to add staff to their staffing plan that is not the same as what they expect from every other department,” noting that “the process has typically taken months, and a lot of it’s done in public meetings.”

As an example, Gardner, formerly Utah County Clerk/Auditor, pointed to a staffing plan change in the Utah County Recorder’s Office that the commission approved last month. Lee postponed a vote on the staffing change on June 9 because he said he wanted more time to look over the proposal.

“So the reason I abstained is because I really just did not appreciate that we make every other department in the county go through an extensive process to add people, yet … the commission was willing to do it expedited for themselves,” said Gardner. “I just didn’t like that it didn’t follow the process that we make every other department in the county follow in order to add a position, but yet when the commission wants to add positions underneath themselves, they’ll cut all the corners and require significantly less.”

The commission’s budget administrators will be responsible for coordinating various projects, including projects involving federal dollars and grants, such as emergency rental assistance grants, according to Gardner.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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