Trash compact • Salt Lake County government, in another move to get out of the municipal-services business, is about to spin off garbage collection as a truly independent enterprise. The new Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District would employ the same 76 people beginning next year, but they would no longer be county employees. They would work for the district, which currently is known as Special Service District No. 1. So why bother with the change? It is a trip down the same path that the county has followed with creation of the Unified Fire Authority and the Unified Police District. Because these services are provided both to the unincorporated areas of the county and to several member cities, it makes political sense to have them governed by boards that include representatives of both the cities and the unincorporated areas. This helps to get past the politics of turf wars and makes it more likely that cities and unincorporated areas can share joint services, which creates economies of scale and gives customers or taxpayers more bang for their buck. It has proved to be a good model for fire and police. Why not garbage collection? It's a plan that even Oscar the Grouch should love.
A gift to the people • Somewhere, Teddy Roosevelt is smiling. An anonymous donor has put up the scratch $825,000 to buy 30 acres of private land near the base of Tabernacle Dome in Zion National Park and turn it over to the National Park Service. The purchase means that the land will not become the site of a private home or homes, and will preserve the views in the park. There are about 3,400 acres of private lands within Zion, and development of them degrades the wild quality of the park. Because the cash-strapped federal government has not funded purchases of these so-called inholdings, it falls to individuals to do the preservation work.
A kilowatt saved • It's cheaper to use the energy Utah already has than to generate more. That's the conclusion of a new study by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. It says that an investment of $2.2 billion by utilities and customers could reap benefits worth $3.9 billion, a net saving of $1.7 billion. In the bargain, the state could cut air pollution and carbon emissions. The trick, of course, is to make it economical for customers to make the investment, and show them how.