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Utah Co. Commission agrees to pause controversial budget decision

Utah County Commission Chair Bill Lee
Posted at 3:01 PM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 17:02:41-04

PROVO, Utah — Utah County Commissioners Bill Lee and Tom Sakievich have agreed to pause indefinitely the controversial decision to move the Utah County budget office away from the supervision of the Utah County Auditor and under the supervision of the Utah County Commission.

Lee and Sakievich announced their intent to move the budget office during a meeting Wednesday, saying the decision was not up for debate.

The commissioners passed the proposal 2-0, and explained they wanted a more direct pipeline for information about the county’s financial future.

In the moments following the announcement, members of the public expressed immediate disapproval of the decision.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson called it "insane."

“This should be extremely concerning to everyone,” Henderson, a resident of Spanish Fork, wrote. “In practicality, this means that essentially TWO people will be in charge of PROPOSING, VOTING ON, and EXECUTING a half a billion dollar budget! That’s insane, and completely out of alignment with principles of good government.”

Lee and Sakievich released the following statements Friday:

Statement from Bill Lee
Thank you to all the citizens and elected officials who have reached out to me regarding the decision to move the Utah County budget office under the supervision of the Utah County Commission. I always appreciate the opportunity to hear the perspectives of others and share my insights.

After careful consideration and deliberation with legislators, I support indefinitely pausing the action taken on Wednesday regarding the budget office, and I have placed an item on next week’s Commission meeting agenda that will do just that. This means the budget office would remain under the supervision of the Utah County Auditor.

After the discussions I have had over the past couple of days, I now feel confident that the Utah County Commission will receive the full and impartial budget information we need as we seek to responsibly reduce the massive property tax increase of 2019. I look forward to working with the budget office in achieving that goal.

Statement from Tom Sakievich
State law requires the commission to have direct and immediate access to the county budget. My goal is to keep county government limited, restrained, and balanced. After further dialogue with the Clerk/Auditor staff to find ways to reduce the $19.4M property tax increase, I intend to pause the action of moving the Budget Department to the Commission Office.