The Commission met on Tuesday, January 10, 2022 at the Kane County Courthouse for the first full public meeting of the newly constituted commission. Commissioners Heaton, Kubeja, and Meyeres were in attendance. The meeting was called to order at 3:00 PM. Commissioner Kubeja provided the invocation and Commissioner Meyeres led the room in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commission Chair Wade Heaton took a few moments at the start of the meeting to allow newly elected county officials and employees to introduce themselves to attendees. Heaton next noted that the commissioners had decided to add a public comment period to their meetings, with two minutes allocated for interested individual attendees to address the commissioners on topics both on and off the agenda. Three people stood up to comment on topics like transparency, civility, and the limits of 2-minute public comments.
After approving consent items, the commission addressed the regular agenda.
With eight items on the agenda, the commission first went into public hearing for item one, Regarding Increase in County Commissioner Salaries to Include the 2023 Cost of Living Adjustment of 8.7%. With only a few comments, the commission moved out of public hearing after less than five minutes.
Commissioner Meyeres then introduced the next item, Increase in County Commissioner Salaries to Include Cost of Living Adjustment of 8.7%. Commissioner Heaton commented that the COLA is part of the annual budget and would usually be applied to all county officials and employees, but that he had moved at the last meeting of the previous commission to have the new commission vote publicly on the COLA applying to commissioners.
Heaton said, “This is kind of my doing,” going on to add, “I did not realize the commissioners received these COLA increases, and when I found out I felt like if the people voting on these increases are getting these increases, it needs to be in the light of day.” Commissioner Meyeres said, “I’m in favor of the commissioners receiving the cost-of-living adjustment,” adding, “We’re a part-time commission, which means we get paid for part-time whether we work full-time or not. To me, it’s a fairness issue.” Commissioner Kubeja said, “To me it’s a matter of principle. Either all elected officials get it, or no elected officials get it,” adding, “I am in favor of it.”
Commissioner Heaton commented, “I’ve got two concerns about this, and one of them is that people didn’t know we were voting ourselves an increase. I think we’ve satisfied that, but I do have a secondary concern,” adding that historically the position has always been a part-time job and was designed to be so from the beginning. “I don’t think commissioners should be doing this job for the money,” Heaton said, adding that he wasn’t talking about the current commissioners but about those who might run in the future. “I think there is a real danger that when you have commissioners wanting to make a career out of this, and the money is enough, and enticing, and motivating, that there is a concern. This COLA increase puts our salaries a little over $51,000. That’s about the point where it makes me nervous. That’s my secondary concern.”
Kubeja noted that given the hours the position requires, “I don’t feel like I’m taking too much of the taxpayer’s dollars for the hours I’m putting in.” Commissioner Meyeres noted that, “This is not a net increase in cost to the taxpayers. Because of the good work that staff has done in sourcing local benefits and things like that we’re actually experiencing a net decrease in cost for this budget.”
Ultimately, the measure was passed with Commissioners Kubeja and Meyeres voting in favor and Commissioner Heaton voting against.
Other agenda items for the day were unanimously approved, including the Interlocal Cooperation Agreement with the school district supporting school resource officers, a Cooperation Agreement between the County and the Town of Big Water for fire services similar to the recent agreement between the county and the City of Kanab, an MOU with Utah Department of Wildlife Resources regarding the delisting of the Utah Prairie Dog from the federal endangered species list, and a resolution adopting the 2023 Schedule of Fees for county services.
Additionally, Matthew Cox of Kanab was unanimously approved to be appointed to the Kane County Planning Commission, along with the reappointment of Doug Heaton and Byard Kershaw.
The meeting ended with a motion to adjourn at 4:13 p.m. The motion carried unanimously.
Kane County Commission meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 3:00 p.m. at the Kane County Courthouse. Join the meeting by phone at (435) 676-9000 using code 168030#. Recordings of the meetings can be found at kane.utah.gov/gov/dept/commission/.