First commission meeting of year 01

From left, Utah County Commissioners Tanner Ainge, Nathan Ivie, and Bill Lee review an agenda item during the commission meeting at the Utah County Administration Building on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Provo.

Thirteen community leaders were named Thursday to serve on a board to look at the best form of government for Utah County.

The Utah County Commission passed an ordinance in February establishing the board, which will do research on changing Utah County’s form of government from its current three-person commission, though the board will not have power to change a current plan that petitioners are working to get on November’s ballot.

The advisory board has until May 31 to make a final recommendation to the commission including a report of findings and an analysis of public support.

The board is chaired by Cameron Martin, vice president of university relations at Utah Valley University, and Rex Facer with the Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics at Brigham Young University will serve as vice chair.

The Utah County Commission approved the 13 names selected by Martin to serve on the advisory board.

The 13 people approved by the commission to serve on the board are:

  • Clint Betts, executive director of Silicon Slopes
  • Curt Bramble, Utah state senator
  • Clark Caras, former director of the Spanish Fork Salem area Chamber of Commerce
  • Craig Conover, former Springville councilman and current retail manager at the Daily Herald
  • Deidre Henderson, Utah state senator
  • Kirk Hunsaker, Santaquin mayor
  • Michelle Kaufusi, Provo mayor
  • Dr. Quinn Mecham, political science professor at BYU
  • Mike Mendenhall, Spanish Fork City councilman
  • Jefferson Moss, Utah state representative
  • Ifo Pili, Eagle Mountain city administrator
  • Rob Smith, assistant superintendent with the Alpine School District
  • Heidi Balderree, secretary for the Utah County Republican Party

The committee will be studying topics including the optimal composition of the legislative and executive functions, geographic districting, full-time versus part-time elected officials and appropriate compensation, budgetary impacts of a change and the ideal timing of such changes, according to a press release sent Thursday afternoon.

The current three-person commission has combined legislative and executive functions and are elected at-large in the county.

From this point on, the advisory board will function separately from the county commission, with either the chair or vice chair setting up meetings. The website utahcountyfuture.com, though not live yet, is expected to go up in the near future.

According to Utah law, a county government can be changed by a vote of the people, and the question can be sent to the ballot either by the county commission or by a petition process. Options for changing the form of county government include a mayor-council form, mayor-manager form, or an expanded commission with more than three members.

Signatures are actively being gathered to put a question on November’s ballot to change the commission to a mayor-council form of government. State law prohibits the county commission from starting its own process until the petition process concludes, but does not prohibit it from studying the issue.

The three current commissioners showed unanimous support for creating the advisory board, including Nathan Ivie, who is also a sponsor of the attempt to put the mayor-council form of government on the ballot.

“I am happy to see this issue taken seriously after years of public pressure,” Ivie said in the press release. “We do not live in the same Utah County that we knew years ago. It is time for us to consider a more dynamic and responsive form of government, and I am grateful to this committee for their efforts to that end.”

Commissioner Bill Lee said in the release that he was excited to hear from Utah County residents on the issue, while Ainge said he will be closely following the meetings, research and updates as published by the committee.

“I encourage all Utah County residents to participate as they are able and engage directly with the committee on such a fundamental question facing our county government,” Ainge said in the 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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