"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Monday, June 8, 2020

2020 Candidates for Utah County Commission: Nathan Ivie and Tom Sakievich

Nathan Ivie is one of our current Utah County Commissioners:
Nathan Ivie participated in debates and held virtual townhalls.  He was very accessible.

Tom Sakievich is a retired Marine and has worked to oversee government budgets for many years.
Tom Sakievich participated in debates and held virtual townhalls.  He was very accessible.

Notes from the County Commission debate (which included 3 other candidates--Steve White, Taylor Dayton, Christopher Forbush--who did not make it to the Primary ballot).

Steve White:
Commissioner 2003-2011: balanced our budget, $1M minimum into the fund balance, created a free clinic..mental health resources which became a place where the indigent poor came to receive services.  Sheriff had 100% full funding for all the personnel (Jim Tracy).  Didn't raise taxes.  3 years ago we could have covered the deficit.  Running to bring conservative fiscal policies back to UT County.

Taylor Dayton:
Lived in UT County essentially my whole life.  Don't pass taxes onto members of the county. 1. Reducing taxes, 2. Limiting government, 3. Listening to the people.

Christopher Forbush:
Payson, BYU, work at UVU and private attorney,live in Saratoga Springs.  Running with reference to the tax increase.  Want to roll that back as far as prudent, but live within our means. Disagree with changing county government from commission to mayor-council.  www.chrisforbush.com

Nathan Ivie:
Honor to serve for the last 4 years.  Got some neglected farmwork done on Sunday.  It helps you focus on what's really important, I started to walk back to the house.  Daughter was helping watering.  Grateful she was helping without being asked.  Have an amazing history in my family.  This is about the American Dream and that's why I do this.  It's essential to me that we practice government in a responsible manner and that we protect the liberties that the Founders gave us.  

Tom Sakievich: 
30 years in Marine Corps, deeply involved in budgets.  Been on the short end when Congress was playing with payroll.  I value the Constitution that protects our freedoms and the Declaration the outlines that framework. Limited gov't guy and believe it can be done with a smaller government that allows communities to do their part.  During COVID, people are still getting out, distancing, but people are still living their lives.

  1. What is the most significant problem facing the county and what will you do to fix it?
TD: Growth.  Great thing.  What can we do?  Be friendly to businesses, not encumber them with undue tax burden.  Do not increase taxes.  Hurts individuals and businesses as well.  Need to partner with small businesses.  

CF: Outside of the issue of taxation, growth. Need to focus on "moving people".  Get together with cities and prioritize rights of ways into areas that are going to be growing rapidly.  

NI: COVID virus: Stand our guard but don't abandon our principles of liberty.  As we find out the true consequences, then we make the appropriate cuts.  Going to live within our budgets.  Growth.  Continue to invest in infrastructure and good relationship with regional planning.

TS: Over the last 10 years, we've gone from 400K to 600K.  The bulk of those residents live within the towns and cities.  The county has roughly 9000 residents that the county supports.  the county is to work with the cities to support those issue of growth.

SW: COVID will pass and in the end, it's the future we need to look at.  The transportation systems in south county that are fully inadequate.  We don't want to have those issues and give density bonuses: had to buy right of way to expand 2 lanes.  If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.  

  1. Essential vs non-essential roles of government
CF: promoting tourism.  Not a role of county government.  Might be able to offset the tax increase by cutting that.  Use voluntary compliance to distancing but to encourage as normal lives as possible.

NI: Sheriff and Attorney.  Then Clerk Auditor: free electorate.  Assessing and collecting taxes (surveyor, etc).  Government's fundamental role is to protect life, liberty and property.  Health dept: striking the right balance

TS: Public Safety: Sheriff, Justice/Attorney, Roads, sewers, and intercity requirements.  The non-essentials: hotels, conferences (commercial stuff).  The county health information is being thoroughly well-done.

SW: Sheriff, Attorney: Law Enforcement.  Then Health and Human services as mandated by the state.  If we do those things, we have a well-protected and healthy county and less crime.  We can get transportation moved up higher on the list.

TD: Been covered: protect the rights of the people and property.  Health dept: making sure the citizens are safe.  This is done by levying taxes.  That's what we need to be careful doing.  Non-essentials: stay out of private interests.  Stick to infrastructure: trim something in some of the parks.

  1. Do you support a Utah County Council/Mayor form of government.  What are pros and cons of those
NI: Huge proponent.  Something I campaigned on.  There is too much consolidated power and in our recent past to see that.  We need to have local districted representation and separation of powers.  5 districted council members, mayor, deputy mayor.  This should disperse power and get greater voice to the people.

TS: 3 commissioners current structure is ideal and far cheaper: 9000 people live in unincorporated areas.  UT county is to support cities, not residents.  The cities support their residents.  

SW: In favor of expanding representation for people but against a mayor.  Once you pass the budget, then all the power in the county goes to the mayor.  So, amending the budget is more cumbersome.  When the mayor has a veto, then it takes 4 members of the 5 council to override.

TD: There could be some pros with expanding to a mayor-council form.  You may get representation from different areas.  Going to have increased costs and if it's a strong mayor.  I think the commissioner form is good if we elect good people, and hold them accountable.  Not in favor.  We're going to vote on this as a county.  Willing to support whatever the citizens decide, but wouldn't be in favor.

CF: 3 reasons.  Not a fan of mayor-council. 1. Costs will increase: 2 people proposed.  In SL: there are 24 individuals. 2. Separation of powers: you are taking the power that is divided among 3 council members, and consolidating it behind one mayor.  Districted representation can be achieved in a much less egregious sort of way: maybe a 5 member council.

  1. What do you think of the recently passed 67% tax increase and if you are opposed, what would you have proposed?
TS: 1. Fund for travel.  We need to work with our related counties to look at getting access to those funds.  Because we spend most of our time in those areas.  2. Incremental increase on taxes.  67% was too big because it affects our homes, our businessesand our supplies that impact those businesses.  

SW: 67% was about 4 or 5 times more.  If the commission had raised taxes 15% when they lost the ICE contract, we would be sitting pretty.  A small tax increase would have been justified.

TD: WAs going to be more than that and it's come down.  But in the 2019 budget that it increased: $14M, now increased.  We're not living within our means, not 18% not 10%.   Need to live within our means, within inflation.  Not fair to the residents.

CF: Disagree with the tax hike.  I think we could have achieved bridging the deficit through other means.  $2-3M what we should be looking to make up.  Legislature mandated an increase in recorder fees.  That means the recorders office, which is self-funded, they turn that over to the general fund, which could have made up the deficit.  Utah Taxpayers Association supported a MARGINAL tax increase based on the budget they were given, but not as high as it was.

NI: $100M budget.  Issues that have faced the county since 1986.  1 minute is not long enough to cover.  When we talk about 67%, it's imperative that you are paying a lower percentage today than you were in 2011.  [But my tax value is HIGHER by A LOT than it was in 2011.]  On most families, we're talking $6-7/per month.

  1. Commissioner job: is it full time that doesn't allow other occupations?  How would you track the hours on a job.
SW: Yes, it's full-time.  Spent 2 hours/day on the budget.  NI said: before we had a 1/4 cent sales tax that was in lieu of the property tax.  On the current commission, there is no historical knowledge.  We need to work hard and full time doing the work.  $119K.

TD: Budget is $104M.  Citizens should not pay more because we didn't plan accordingly.  Full-time job, maybe even more.  8-9 hours/day and visit with people outside of that.  Be available to citizens wherever they might be.  You have the responsibility to meet with them.

CF: This is a full-time position and requires you to be available that amount of time.  Make it to meetings, not just call in.  Present in your office.  Sometimes, it might take more than that and meetings can run late into the night. When elected, I expect to step away from my current full-time positions.  Fine to have a commissioner "punch in."

NI: Absolutely, it's 24-7.  Respond and be among the people.  I was the only commissioner who voted to report and track our time, because I believe in being open and transparent.  There's a reason why there are so many people at the county who are happy to work with me.  I've given up opportunities to be here.  

TS: Full-time job.  There are 30-35 boards that the commission members are involved in.  Get involved with the mayors and get out among the people.  If an individual has an outside interest, they need to turn that interest over to a third party.  It might be that you aren't in the office, but you can track online.  

  1. Has the BRT worked out?  Lost lanes? Is it being utilized?  Will you look at ideas to add public transit ideas? What is the role of public transportation over the next 10 years?
TD: It's been effective by and large, but I think the cost was over and above what most of the citizens wanted.  Look at usage studies.  Listen to the taxpayers and see what they want.  Live within the budget. Make it convenient and comfortable but not overspend.  I think in some areas it's been overdone.

CF: The funding is coming from UTA (sales tax in the county).  Whether or not public transit has been successful, is another question.  Transportation should largely be handled by a private company.  But it is subsidized.  It needs to be studied.  Students have a subsidized pass.  Not sure if it needs to expand to other areas.  Need to see if actual ridership can cover the cost to expand.

NI: Ridership has exceeded expectations.  Outside of BRT, one of the things I'm most proud of was getting an interlocal agreement with UTA.  That puts local control over that 1/4 cent sales tax project.  Need that we hold UTA accountable, more local control.  On the funding of BRT, we'll be able to refinance some of those bonds and use some of that money into other areas.

TS: BRT was part of an overall concept from the last several years from MAG: transcom-40 (now transcom-50).  It's envisioning when we become twice the size, how do we move masses of people across the county. Most mass transit systems are funded by taxpayers.  Current bus system is funded by 25% cost, subsidized 75% by taxpayers.  It is needed.  But I'd like to see more support by commercial interests to see more effective transportation options.  

SW: I was in office when the vote was taken for that second quarter for commuter rail and other highway projects: including Pioneer Crossing and North County Blvd.  BRT: the money was earmarked for commuter rail to Springville.  No wonder everyone in South County feels they are not taken care of.  Need to take care of the entire county.

  1. County recorder's office, recently increased from $10 to $40 per documents.  That is an increase of over $4M.  Is that necessary, and how will this money be used?
CF: HB247 from the legislature requires the recorder's office.  It's expected there will be a surplus of $2.5 - $3M turned in from the recorder's fees.  Tax increase wasn't necessary.  

NI: Would love to hear this question from the recorders.  Recorder's office has had significant problems with lower staffing.  Very supportive of our efforts to tie performance-based metrics to new staffing and new funding.  Make sure they are meeting their standards.  

TS: I am surprised by a 4 fold increase in fees.  I know 140K documents is huge.  $4M is going to cover a lot more than another 2-4 recorders in the office.  Not sure how it's been applied to date.  We need to incrementally raise things as needed, and then identify why that increase is needed.  The county can send educational emails to members of the county to keep them informed.

SW: The recorder's fee is set by the state legislature.  We could never raise the amount when we needed it. The recorder's office has a 60 day backlog to day.  We need to bring technology in to get everything up to snuff.

CF: I would like to associate myself with the comments Steve made.  It's entirely appropriate that we increase our tech to complete the job in a least costly way possible.

TD: Increase seems a bit exorbitant.  I think we're going to increase fees little by little.  How those funds are applied, uncertain. Based on the 4 times increase, there will be more money in the general fund, and want to help the recorder's office in tech and manpower if needed.

  1.     What county depts do you feel could be run more efficiently in order to balance the budget without a large tax increase?
NI: Worked with my various departments to look at vehicle fleets.  We were able to find some vehicles that we could cut our or multi-purpose.  We can find increased savings and explore leasing vehicles and other ideas.  We need to look at privatizing and contract things out of the different departments.

TS: Need to look at things as it grows for those departments in the county, e.g. Attorney.  As we look at the growth, we can look at what we can narrow what we actually do.  I would like to look at getting things into commercial interests.  Would like to move away from those in the future.

SW: I would RIF all the financial positions in the departments and then increase the auditor's office by that amount.  Then auditor decide if those people qualify for those job, and then those others can apply to other positions.  Looking at other options like privatization in Public Works.

NI: We are actively working on and looking into those areas.  We are doing our due diligence so that we don't get fleeced. Actively working to make sure with privatization we are sure we are getting better service if we do that and that it makes sense.

TD: Where we could reduce would be: corrections is 37%, etc.  On the enforcement areas, we could find some economies: responsible for patrolling.  Eagle Mountain and Vineyard, maybe we could increase to market rate: they should be able to budget and develop their police dept.

CF: Utah County Attorneys Office: Many wonderful attorneys working there.  County Attorney wanted to hire another 15 attorneys.  I'm going to scratch my head and look a bit deeper.  Why do you need 15 additional staff?  Would that be appropriate?  If a dept head wants a drastic personnel increase, is there a way to solve the problem without such a high increase.

  1. Cities are limiting property rights for Air BnB and short term rentals.
TS: Properly within the jurisdiction of the property owner.  If there is a health and safety issue, then the government can step in.  Public Servants should not dictate to people unless there is a health and safety issue that arises.  

SW: No jurisdiction in cities, but we do in the county and I would vote to allow short term rental in all zones in the county.

TD: Cities will have jurisdiction.  In the county, I think we need to be county, give direction and guidelines.  Want to be considerate of the people and be good neighbors, but ultimately it's property owner's rights.

CF: What Steve said, no jurisdiction in the cities.  Push for legal accessory apartments in the county and would be in support at looking and expanding those.

NI: Not only would I work and have worked to expand rights for property owners in the county.  We passed the ordinance to mother-in-law apartments.  Fierce believer in property rights, so long as you are not harming the  neighbor with those activities.  I'm going to use the bully pulpit back on the municipalities.  This is a liberty issue and a strong supporter of expanding those opportunities.

  1. How would you assess the current county park situation?  More park space?  Equestrian park?
SW: There's enough and to spare.  Private land is only 22% of the state.  We need to be aware that we are surrounded by parks and trails that we own. I don't think the county needs to go getting any more because we have enough and to spare.

TD: Parks and nature makes it great to be in the county.  No need to purchase extra parks.  Take care of the ones that we have.  I don't know that everyone in the area of the equestrian park, we might want to work with the cities around there and let them acquire it.  I don't think the county needs to take care of it.

CF: I don't believe it's something we should be trying to get more parks.  That could end up being an unnecessary expense that is more important for the county to be doing.  Don't have an opinion one way or another.  I'd have to explore how it might benefit the county.  It might be of interest to the county to allow those parks to be divested into cities, etc.  

NI: The current county parks are funded through the TRCC fund, and I think it's appropriate.  If we're going to have it in existence, then that is the appropriate use.  I think we should purchase land for parks where it makes sense.  We are looking at a private-public partnership to create a park along Utah Lake.  These types of models are excellent and they preserve these spaces in a joint effort.  Support them where they make sense.

TS: Our parks are ideal.  I would like to keep what we have and maintain for public wide-open use.  I would like to see, private-public relationships to help develop the lake.  I'd like to see us improve those areas and use the TRCC (tourism taxes) to improve other areas and sheriff support. Like to work with our US Congressional delegation to get more out of PILT payments.

  1. Do you support funding community events like the Freedom Festival and Parade?
TD: Tough one.  I would like to get more citizen feedback. I've enjoyed those events, but I think we need to be careful about where we're spending taxpayer funds.  Back to basic essentials.  Little bit more conservative on spending those things.

CF: Based on principle: is this the proper role of government.  To me, I haven't thought enough about it. I think there are other issues that are more important.  But I don't think cutting funding to things like this should be off the table.

NI: This particular activity, the funding does come from TRCC funding.  If we're going to have that fund, then it's an appropriate expenditure.  I would probably be fine with getting rid of the TRCC fund.  Actively working with Lehi city to get the equestrian park into city ownership.

TS: Spoken to some of the founders of the Freedom Festival.  It's principle focus is as a private effort. If it's a public event that is sponsored by the city or county then we should fund it.  But I'd like to explore this, because it's about $113,000 and it's enjoyable.  But it's primarily a private event.

SW: John Adams: 4th of July should be a day that we celebrate.  I think if there's any legitimate function of government, then the Freedom Festival falls within that because it's a time for us to say Thank you to God for blessing us to be born here in this time and in this circumstance.

  1. How do you see your relationship with cities in the county?
CF: Very important.  The county is there to support the cities.  MAG exists.  It needs to be collaborative, and help prioritize things around the county.  Important to maintain and strengthen those relationship.  100% committed to building relationships so we can be prepared for the growth.

NI: Extremely grateful for the wonderful relationship with the mayors and city council members.  Nice that we can get together and come up with the right solution.  Our county is continuing to grow together, so these issues become more important.  Good that we can be unified in the end.  thankful to leave the calls on Mondays with all the mayors.

TS: Our relationship should be an on-going effort.  They are the ones for whom the county exists.  Those residents in unincorporated areas.  I'd like to encourage more of our city and town mayors to attend the various commission meetings/programs that they should be more included or at least invite them.  

No comments:

Post a Comment