Study committee formed

Council declines to pursue litigation

After nearly a year of animus and sometimes heated rhetoric, political intrigue and litigation, the study committee voters approved in the 2018 election has been formed and will soon begin its work on creating a new form of government in Grand County.

Four of the five members of an appointment council chosen to pick members to the study committee will serve on the seven-person study committee that will meet throughout the year to decide what they want in local county government.

Bob Greenberg, Cricket Green and Marcy Till join Walt Dabney, Jeramy Day, Judy Carmichael and Steven Stocks.

The appointment council met Tuesday, Feb. 26 and made its selections. The Grand County Council is apparently satisfied the members represent a broad cross-section of the county’s electorate because a few hours later after meeting in closed session members agreed to indefinitely postpone a potential challenge to Seventh District Judge Don Torgerson’s ruling that gave Grand County control over the process, but denied a citizen’s petition to name Kya Marienfeld as a member of the appointment committee.

Utah laws regarding changing a form of government clearly require a diverse committee and, from a political affiliation perspective, the appointment council met that requirement. The majority of active voters in Grand County are unaffiliated, or independent, while Republicans outnumber Democrats by several hundred. Dabney recently changed from Republican to unaffiliated. He joins Stocks and Till in that category. Day, Green and Carmichael are Republicans and Greenberg is a Democrat.

County Administrator Ruth Dillon in an email said the study committee was formed after County Attorney Christina Sloan provided guidance.

Dillon said the committee’s inaugural meeting could be held as early as next week. She said the study committee meetings are subject to Utah Open Meeting laws.

The need to change came about when state lawmakers in the 2018 legislative session determined the form of government in Grand and Morgan counties were noncompliant with state law.

The committee has four possible forms of government from which to choose, none that closely resemble what currently exists – a seven-member nonpartisan council.

Here’s a brief synopsis of each form of government:

  • County Commission: This commission would hold both executive and legislative powers. It would have three members who are elected at large with staggered four-year terms.
  • Expanded County Commission: In this form, the county commission also has the authority to manage the county, make laws, set taxes, budgets and fees. There would be five to seven commissioners, elected at large and serve staggered four-year terms.
  • Elected executive/council: This form of government features an executive or mayor who has authority over the executive branch of government – including veto power over council legislative acts. The elected council members would have legislative powers.
    • The number of members, terms, compensation and whether elections are at-large or by district is part of an optional plan.
  • Council/Manager: An appointed manager who serves at the pleasure of the council runs the executive branch and an elected council handles legislative issues. The number of members, terms, compensation and whether elections are at-large or by district is part of an optional plan.

“It is my hope that we move forward with no more huge roadblocks,” said Grand County Council member Mary McGann following Tuesday’s closed session.