About County Government
Ever been to the library? Attended a performance at Abravanel Hall? Registered to vote? Watched a little league game? Then you know Salt Lake County government.
It is hundreds of programs and people working to create better communities, individuals and opportunities – for you.
By nature, local government does not make a big splash. That is fine by us. The only splashing we like is at one of our 15 recreation center pools.
Why do I have a county mayor and a city mayor?
They do have a lot in common, but they are very different from each other. Not everyone lives in a city, but everyone lives in one of Utah's 29 counties. This is where we throw out those terms incorporated and unincorporated Salt Lake County.
- Unincorporated means that you live in a portion of Salt Lake County that does not have a municipal (city) government. Your county mayor is your only mayor.
- Incorporated county means that you live in and are represented by a local government AND county government. You might have a city mayor and a county mayor.
It is like going to the grocery store. You live in downtown Salt Lake City. Chances are you go to the small convenience store down the block. You can get most of you essential goods and services there but occasionally like to supplement the selection by going to the larger grocery store a few miles away.
If you live in unincorporated Salt Lake County, however, there is one stop shopping. You don't have a small convenience store down the block so you go to the big grocery store nearby. That is your only option and you can get everything you need there.
City government is the small, convenience store grocer. County government is the larger grocery store that is a little farther away. And state government? Well, that's the big warehouse club of governments. You go there to stock up on big items like education, highways and state parks. It is all good stuff, but it is so big it can be hard to navigate sometimes.
So is the Salt Lake County mayor in charge of the city mayors?
No, but they do collaborate and work together. Each government has its own separate structures and responsibilities.
It's like this; Cities and counties all live in the same neighborhood but are each in charge of their own households and try to be respectful of the neighbors around them.
How do Salt Lake County's 18 separately elected officials work together?
We are a bit of a co–op: We share living space and common goals ultimately are fairly self-directed. Each official helps maintain the county in a different yet equally important way.
What about the State Legislature? Why is the county always following what they are doing?
The legislature drafts laws and legislation that has an impact on functions, duties and roles. Our budget and taxing authority is heavily determined by the State Legislature. What happens on Capitol Hill ultimately affects everything we do. This is why it is so important for all governments and citizens to be involved during the 6–week Legislative Session each year.
Why should I care about county government?
There are incredible programs and services that really benefit you. It is in you best interest to be informed. Besides, we could not function without you. We rely on your input, your volunteer hours, and your willingness to help us move the county along.
In case of a county–wide emergency or natural disaster Salt Lake County will be responsible for responding. It is best to be familiar with us before you really need us. Find out what great resources you have been missing.