South Jordan City Council
South Jordan was recently named once again to Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” for 2012. This accomplishment reflects our residents’ view of the importance of education, family values, community involvement and taking pride in the community. This is truly an accomplishment each citizen and visitor can take pride in. Working with the history committee made up of dedicated volunteers, I have learned so much about the history of this city. The first residents were farmers and lived in dugouts overlooking the Jordan River. In order to irrigate their crops and fields, these homesteaders dug ditches by hand, including the Beckstead ditch. Their industriousness led to the creation of one of the first businesses in South Jordan, the White Faun Flower Mill. Without the mill, there would have been no way to make use of the crops they grew. Our founders were determined to make this community grow and develop, and that spirit lives on with us.
Today there are a myriad of businesses from very large to very small in South Jordan. Merit Medical, which has offices in other states and around the globe is one of those larger businesses. Merit Medical’s president and chief executive officer Fred Lampropoulos recently declared, “Utah is the best place for business.” The business community in our city has been active in participating in community events that we all enjoy and we sincerely thank them for their participation. Business establishments in South Jordan have made this community a great place to work and live, bringing income and jobs into the city. As you enter the city from the east, on the north you see Mulligan’s; on the south you see the River Park Office complex. Both of these developments serve very different needs. These two different uses marking the gateway to the city highlight the diversity of growth that has made South Jordan great.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a conference of the Utah League of City and Towns. In one of the conference sessions I attended, the presenter used South Jordan as a benchmark in leading a discussion on how a city should operate. It is not uncommon for mayors and city council members in other cities at the meetings to ask about our successes. Many of these cities have had to raise taxes in their cities to continue to make ends meet without real growth. Some have eliminated services and others have had to contract out services. As I think about a response to those cities who inquire, I come back to several factors that have elevated South Jordan to such an enviable position.
I mention to these other cities that it all starts with great people. You have to have caring and committed neighbors, like the neighbors I live near or meet around town. There’s another success story I share with other cities though. I explain to them the difference great municipal employees make. Employees who actively seek to improve the city through innovation and genuine concern. Having employees who are fully invested in their jobs comes through training and cross training to ensure their development. They are actively looking ahead and planning for changes coming down the line. Committed and seasoned professionals in our departments treat their jobs, the city’s resources, its finances with great care. Most importantly, they serve our residents in a professional and courteous manner. They take tremendous pride in their jobs, in how the South Jordan looks and functions.
Some cities are incredulous when I explain what a difference having the right people makes. Many of these cities have decided to contract out services. While recognizing that each city is unique, I believe that contracting municipal services out involves a tradeoff. While acknowledging the services will be provided, there is a loss of local control over the quality of those services. As a resident and elected official, my job is to ensure the right people are put in place and hold them accountable. Contracting out services doesn’t improve that control structure. Finding the right employees has made a difference in our city.
Another part of the city’s success I share with others is the form of government we have in South Jordan. Not many people consider the difference it makes. One of the things that affects our city in a positive way is the use of a part-time mayor, coupled with a full-time city manager. For example, when we elect a new mayor, having a full-time city manager allows there to be complete continuity in carrying out plans and practices that have been put in place. This form of government eliminates a learning curve that many new administrations struggle through. A full-time mayor would be costly, and with elections every four years, an entirely different management agenda would be brought in, forcing the city to start over, losing previous time, and most importantly, wasting your sacred tax dollars.
This is not to say that the city does not have to make adjustments. It does and we do. The City of South Jordan enjoys a tremendous advantage by not having to start over completely every four years though because we have a part-time mayor –and part-time positions also allow many more regular folks to serve – and a full-time city manager. As an added benefit, having a city manager to prepare and maintain a balanced budget leads to a city not overestimating revenues. The fiscally conservative nature of a full-time city manager results in bonding being looked at only for long-term investments in the community. These were just some of the secrets of South Jordan’s success I have passed on.
This coming fall season tells us that new family, fun events are on the horizon. Last summer was filled with activities for everyone and as we end the year, plan on continuing that tradition and join the city at more great events. Sounds of the Season choir concerts and the annual Light the Night event are just around the corner. Also look for a window decorating contest at the businesses in front of City Hall along Towne Center. Check out the city’s website www.sjc.utah.gov for more details and learn more about the city’s app which is available at Apple and Android stores. Please remember to get out and vote!
For more informing on the history of our city, please stop by and visit the Gale Center Museum. There is a lot to see and learn. You can call the City Information Center, 801 254-3742, for hours and location. It may surprise you but every time you call City Hall, you always will get a live, dedicated employee, ready to answer your questions. It is a pleasure to serve as your city councilman. I look forward to meeting more of you. Thanks for your support. I’m Larry Short, and I am still a concerned citizen.