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Utah League Of Cities And Towns Tackles Tough Job Of Representing 248 Interests

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Utah League of Cities and Towns
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There are nearly 250 cities and towns stretching across the state of Utah varying in size and structure. Although all unique, they are all also represented by an organization that seeks to represent their interests.

Rachel Otto is the director of government relations with the Utah League of Cities and Towns. She explains what the organization does.

“We are the voice for all 248 cities and towns in Utah." Otto explained, "We represent 1,380 mayors and council members across Utah. We’re governed by a 21-member board of mayors and council members. We advocate for them on the hill and also provide training for them year-round. Including city staff, elected officials and everyone involved with city work.”

The organization lobbies the state legislature on behalf of its members and believes that the government closest to the people governs best.

“We work on issues that pertain to all cities and towns, but we also work on specific issues too depending on what that issue is." Otto continued, "For example, last year on the hill we worked very hard on a bill that was directed kind of specifically at Park City and the ban on plastic bags that Park City has enacted. Some of those issues are a little bit more focused on a particular city or town but we really try to support all 248 cities and towns.”

In addition to its work on capitol hill the organization also trains city elected officials and staff. One program they head is their Land Use 101 trainings.

“This is really geared towards planning commissioners and elected officials to try to make sure that they understand their roles in the planning process." Otto said, "It’s a one-day training we broadcast it all over the state and its incredibly useful especially for newer planning commissioners who are trying to figure out what their role is and how to consider these applications for development and other things that come their way.”

Otto says they try to meet with each city in some capacity yearly.

“We have two conferences where a lot of our elected city officials and city staff come to meet and to network and get training." Otto continued, "We also try to meet with cities just individually year-round. At this time of year, we do have the pleasure of going to a lot of pre-legislative events with our cities, which is great.”

Otto recently met with Heber City’s elected officials at their strategic planning retreat.

“A city that’s on the frontlines of a lot of population growth was going through a really thorough strategic planning process." Otto explained, "I was very happy to go up and just talk with them about the commission on housing affordability legislation. Also, just talk about different tools that hopefully we can support them as they engage with their local delegations and other issues. Just hearing from the council on what their priorities will be this session.”

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