2020-08-21 Grand County Council Special Meeting Preview

This is a brief, albeit, complex update regarding a Special Meeting of the Grand County Council that will take place at 2pm, tomorrow, August 21, 2020. There are just 3 agenda items, so I’ve included the agenda in it’s entirety below. Due to the complexity of the topic, I’m also including the agenda summary with gives a concise, accurate picture of what is proposed.

Meeting will be held virtually on Zoom at 2 PM

Instructions to give public comment: Dial: (669) 900 – 6833    Meeting ID: 884 9810 2963 #    Password (if needed): 204105

Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88498102963?pwd=ZEtqa0d5MkpEb3JQWHV5RXN1OVJSZz09

You can watch on YouTube, search for: GRAND COUNTY UTAH GOVERNMENT

Citizens to be Heard

General Business- Action Items – Discussion and Consideration of:

A.      Adopting Ordinance approving amendments to the Grand County Plan for County Government to remove non-partisan elections, term limits and recall elections and acknowledge expanded commission form of government status (Councilmember Wells)

B.      Adopting Ordinance approving amendments to the Grand County Plan for County Government to reduce commission seats to five and remove commission districts, subject to voter approval (Councilmember Wells)

C.     Adopting Resolution asking voters whether the Grand County Plan for County Government shall be amended to reduce commission seats to five and remove commission districts (Councilmember Wells)

And now for the summary of what is proposed:

 In 2018, the state legislature required Grand and Morgan counties to initiate a process of changing their forms of government to conform to statute.  

There are two long-established ways for counties to change their form of government: 

1)    A Study Committee process, and

2)    Amendments, passed by a 2/3 majority of the legislative body.   (Certain amendments require voter approval in addition to the 2/3 legislative body vote.)

Hence, Grand County initiated the Study Committee process, the end result of which will appear on the ballot this November.  One downside to this approach is that it limits voter choice.  Of the many options available to Grand County (Council or Commission, five or seven seats, districts or all at-large), the Study Committee could select and recommend only one.  As things stand now, voters will be presented with two choices in November: 

1)    5-member council (the Study Committee option), or

2)    3-member commission (the legislatively mandated default position if the Study Committee’s option fails), which has little support in Grand County.

Using the amendment process, the Grand County Council can increase the number of options on the November ballot and give voters a more direct say in their form of government.  The state code provisions which might force us into a 3-member commission only apply to non-conforming counties, and our current form of government would be conforming if appropriately amended.  Additional amendments (requiring voter approval) could give voters a choice between five or seven members, and between districts and all-at-large. For example:

Amendment 1 would remove non-partisan elections, term limits and recall elections from Grand County’s current form of government ordinance (as mandated by state law).  It would also clarify that the Grand County Council holds all executive power in the county (though that power may be delegated), and change the name from “council” to “commission” to match the usage of those terms in state law.  The result would be a conforming form of government (expanded commission) which matches our current form as closely as possible. This amendment does not require voter approval.

Amendment 2, which would require voter approval, would allow a change in the number of seats from seven to five.  The number of seats was a prominent issue in recent form-of-government discussions.  This amendment would give voters the final say on this question.

Amendment 3 would have the potential to remove districts and have all seats elected at large.  This is similar to amendment 2, in that (a) it would require voter approval, (b) it concerns a prominent issue in recent form-of-government discussions, and (c) it would give voters the final say on this question.

It is important to note that none of the proposed amendments directly affect the Study Committee question on the ballot.  If voters approve the Study Committee ballot question, then Grand County will convert to a council-manager form of government per the Optional Plan drafted by the Study Committee.


Jaylyn Hawks, Grand County Council, Dist. 3