Last fall the Salt Lake County Council was asked to pass a resolution to create the Central Wasatch Commission - a product of Mountain Accord - under the auspices of increased coordination between local governments for the benefit of the canyons. This body would involve mayors from Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, Cottonwood Heights and Sandy who would look at transportation needs in the canyons.
As I looked at the first attempt, I became extremely uncomfortable with the broad powers that would have been granted this new government body, including: levying fees, bonding, acquiring property, and engaging in contracts.
While these actions of themselves are not problematic, without proper checks from legislative branches it was not something I was comfortable with. A partnership between Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, Sandy, and Cottonwood Heights to collaborate on transportation solutions and other needs for the canyons should include more robust checks and balances from the legislative branches of each of those governments.
Fortunately, after months of discussions with stakeholders and community members, the Council was presented with a new, revised version of the Central Wasatch Commission. The new version included an at-large member of the County Council as a commission member, and also requires the commission to come back to the legislative branch (our County Council) as well as that of cities before exercising the powers mentioned above.
I support a model of teamwork between the jurisdictions that are impacted by the canyons, and I’m pleased that this new version was much more narrowly focused in powers and scope, and had better representation from the County Council. We ultimately approved the new Central Wasatch Commission, which must be approved by each of the other cities I mentioned above.
I know there has been a lot of controversy around Mountain Accord. The Central Wasatch Commission is more focused, more limited, and required by law to comply with the Open Meetings Act. We’ll be watching it closely to ensure this remains the case as it works toward transportation solutions for the canyons.
Aimee Winder Newton has been serving on the Salt Lake County Council since January 2014. She is the current chair of the council. Her district encompasses Murray, Taylorsville, West Valley City and West Jordan, and a small portion of South Salt Lake and Millcreek... [read more]