SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – A conversation over county and city government at the State Capitol is heating up.
Two bills are addressing growth and transparency for local government. Some say, at least one of them is nothing more than the state trying to flex its muscle over municipalities.
The population in our state is exploding, and some state lawmakers say local governments need to keep up.
Representatives Gage Froerer and Mike McKell are teaming up on House Bill 224.
They say it would create a clear path for larger, growing counties to study a change in the form of government, and potentially put it to voters.
That could open the door to adding commission seats and a county mayor.
“I think it’s imperative that we at least expand our commission to five members, so that we can have districts, so that we can ensure each member of our community has a representative fighting for them and that we have representative looking out for the good of the county,” said Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie.
House Bill 175 would create an oversight committee made up of state representatives and senators to oversee the use of tax dollars across the state.
Representative Kevin Stratton got fired up defending the bill. He says it’s about checks and balances.
“We don’t get to where we are without there being a lot of good. But, I’ll tell you what, if I have a healthy peach orchard that’s growing vigorously, I’ve got to be able to go through and prune broken branches and diseased branches that naturally come with that growth,” said Stratton, (R) Dist. 48.
Opponents see the committee the bill would create as an abuse of power.
“Which would have the ability to subpoena a local government, bring them to the Capitol on any administrative action, or legislative action and essentially evaluate the efficacy of what we are doing as local governments. We clearly see that as an overstep of locally elected officials,” said Lincoln Shurtz with the Utah Association of Counties.
HB 175 has already failed in committee on a 6-4 vote, but it is likely to return.