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Council Member Doug Clyde Gives His Thoughts On the 2019 Budget

As we’ve reported, the Summit County Council passed their 2019 budget this week.

Afterwards, Council member Doug Clyde talked to us about the lack of public comment Wednesday night—new staff positions in budget—and the county’s economic prospects, given the current occupant of the White House.

The council’s budget hearing in Coalville brought out no one to comment.

Clyde agreed there are a couple of reasons for that—partly that citizens are generally satisfied with county government, and partly because the county isn’t asking for a tax increase this year.

“There’s not a large change going on. We haven’t made any significant changes in the amount of money that we’re spending. The second is that this is a very long and exhaustive process and so we’ve heard from a lot of people over a long period of time. Nothing in the last moment because essentially our opinion on the budget has been fixed for some time.”

He said they’ve also been working in recent years to build up their fund balances.

“We have considerable money in it last year and will do again this year. The final question of whether its $1.2 million or $1.3 million hasn’t been calculated precisely yet but it’s somewhere in that range. We’re on target.”

Council member Roger Armstrong said he’s concerned the county might have to brace for an economic downturn. Clyde made no bones about the fact he agrees.

“Under our current administration I find it hard to believe that anything other than an economic downturn is in our future. Why do I say that? Because the man is nuts. He’s operating the economy as if he was playing a game in his casino.”

The budget includes funding for four sheriff deputies, a new staffer for transit, and a new county planner. Clyde said they also looked at an energy analyst position.

“The question that was posed was simply that we need to be prudent any time we’re adding new full-time staff members. So, what we ended up doing was conditionally approving that. That is to say that we approved that position provided that the department head bring us more information. Then we approve it fully at that time.”

After considerable discussion, the council agreed to set aside some $100,000 in Transient room Tax money to go towards a Scenic Heritage Byway.

About that, the December 5th budget hearing brought out remarks from Charlie Sturgis of the Mountain Trails Foundation. Clyde said there is a mistaken idea that the project is focused on the Rail Trail.

“If you listen to last week’s program the question was do we need to spend $100,000 to improve the actual trail itself.  There were some comments, I believe by Charlie in particular that said of course no. That’s not what you need to do. Form a trails perspective he’s right but this project is not about trails. This project is about developing agritourism as part of the economic development of the East side of the county.

He said the concept could make use of a Village Overlay zone, which the county placed in the last re-write of the East Side Code.

“We determined in that process that we needed a mechanism to allow us to focus in on certain areas of the county that are not incorporated that may be densely populated or on the verge of being densely populated and provide them with a planning tool which we have described as the village overlay zone. Certainly, areas like Wanship are prime for that. You essentially have a small town there, but they’re not incorporated they are not a municipality. Entirely  appropriate that within that area you do a planning district that deals with issues like infrastructure, waste water, culinary water, transportation, all those sorts of issues.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covers Summit County meetings and issues. KPCW snagged him from The Park Record in the '80s, and he's been on air and covering the entire county ever since. He produces the Week In Review podcast, as well a heads the Friday Film Review team.
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