How County Government Works in Utah

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1 How County Government Works in Utah

2 What are Counties? Counties are geographical areas within each state that surround one or more cities/towns and provide services to all citizens within their boundaries. Some states call them something different. For example, Louisiana identifies them as Parishes, while Alaska and New York refer to them as Boroughs.

3 What are Counties? Counties come in all shapes and sizes. Utah s counties have populations between just one thousand (Daggett County) and just over one million (Salt Lake County). Loving County, Texas is smallest at under 100 people, while Los Angeles County, California is largest at just under 10 million.

4 What are Counties? Each state has a different number of counties. Utah has 29 counties. Hawaii and Delaware have only three (the least). Texas has 254 (the most).

5 Why are Counties Important? Counties provide many different and important services that affect your life. Citizens (who vote) and local county leaders decide what services their county needs most. Also, the state and federal government require counties to provide some services.

6 Services Provided in Utah These are just some of the main services counties in Utah provide: Public Safety Jails Road Construction/Repair Animal Services Health & Human Services Sanitation Services Parks & Recreation Libraries Tourism Economic Development Planning & Zoning Many Others

7 How are Counties Structured? Each county decides. Two main structures to county government in Utah: 1. Commission Form 2. Council Form Counties also decide on whether to have an elected or appointed administrator, or to not have one at all.

8 The County Commission Commission form is most common in Utah. 23 of Utah s 29 counties use this. Beaver, Box Elder, Carbon, Daggett, Davis, Duchesne, Emery, Garfield, Iron, Juab, Kane, Millard, Piute, Rich, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Tooele, Uintah, Utah, Washington, Wayne, and Weber. Commissions are made up of three elected commissioners that work either part-time or full-time for their county.

9 The County Council 6 of Utah s 29 counties use the council form of government. Councils can vary in size, from 5 to 9 council members. Most councils also usually have someone hired or elected to oversee the day-to-day operations of the county.

10 Commissions and Councils Commissioners and council members oversee all county services and functions. Each member of the commission or council oversees several specific services to make sure they run well. Members of the commission or council collectively oversee the county budget. Every week or two commissions and councils meet to discuss important issues facing their county. The public is encouraged to attend.

11 Other County Offices Besides commissioners and council members, each county also elects other key people to oversee county services. Depending on the county population, some of these offices are combined or filled with a non-elected official. Assessor Attorney Auditor Clerk Mayor/Executive Recorder Sheriff Surveyor Treasurer

12 County Assessor Property Tax = $$$ $$$ = Services County Assessor s office determines the value of business and residential property (homes and vehicles). Based on the value of property, a tax is assessed. Property tax money pays for not only county services such as parks and roads, but also for schools and other things each community feels it needs.

13 County Attorney Attorneys protect citizens of the county in two areas Criminal and Civil. Criminal duties include prosecuting people accused of breaking state or local criminal laws. Civil duties include representing county government in law suits, drafting contracts and ordinances, giving counties legal opinions and advice, and representing the county before other governmental entities (such as the Legislature).

14 County Auditor Because counties oversee large amounts of tax dollars and the services that they pay for, each county has an auditor who ensures that the money and assets are handled correctly. Most counties in Utah combine this office/job with the Clerk, calling it the office of the Clerk/Auditor.

15 County Clerk County Clerks oversee all federal, state, and local elections whether county officials are up for election or not. Their office also issues marriage licenses, receives and transmits passport applications, and prepares and retains all minutes, agendas and correspondence for the commission or council and other meetings.

16 County Mayor/Executive Only two Utah counties have an elected mayor or executive. Cache County has an elected executive office that oversees all the county s day-to-day operations. Salt Lake County has an elected mayor office that does much of the same thing. It should be noted that many counties have an appointed or nonelected official that oversees day-today county operations.

17 County Recorder The Recorder's Office records and keeps a large library of documents. Some of these are quite old dating back to the 1800s. These include: Records of property that is bought, sold, or transferred. Maps called plats that show all the land in the county and who owns it. A variety of other records and documents such as military discharges, federal tax liens, and court judgments.

18 County Sheriff The County Sheriff is probably the most recognized county official. The Sheriff s office oversees law enforcement for the entire county, including outside city or town limits. Sheriffs oversee a wide variety of programs designed to protect the public, including: Drug enforcement Search and rescue Prevention Dispatch Jails and more

19 County Surveyor The County Surveyor makes sure that all property within the county is correctly located, measured, and recorded. Surveyors use this information to produce maps showing where everything is. These maps help identify roads, boundaries, and other landmarks for citizens, emergency responders, postal workers, and many others who need accurate information about where things are.

20 County Treasurer The main function of the county treasurer is to bill and collect property taxes. However, they also are responsible for distributing the tax revenues to the many different entities that assess taxes, including school districts, cities, and special service districts.

21 How many counties are in Utah?

22 What county do you live in?

23 What Elected Offices are there in your county?

24 Is your county lead by a commission or council form of government?

25 What services does your county provide its citizens?

26 For more information about each of Utah s counties go to:

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