Corroon: Salt Lake County mayor plans busy final year
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon made it to the last few paragraphs of his final State of the County speech Tuesday before his voice cracked for the first time.
At that point, he was expressing appreciation for the fact that, throughout his seven years in office, he has received credit for work done by the "strong shoulders of our thousands of employees."
That bureaucratic muscle produced needed human services to vulnerable populations, the two-term mayor said, vehicle fleets and county buildings that are more environmentally friendly and public-works projects from weekly curbside recycling pickups to Jordan River renovations all achieved without a major property tax increase through a wretched recession, Corroon added, vowing to keep up the pace of progress in the final year of his administration.
"This year's speech will not define the last days of a lame-duck administration," the Democrat said. "We're not going to sit back and relax. We have a great team and we have big issues to address."
The list includes ensuring that county residents a half century from now, when the population is projected to be double the million here now, inherit a livable community.
To accomplish that, the county will review ordinances, such as the Foothills and Canyons Overlay Zone, open more facilities with high energy-efficiency standards and develop better transportation systems for the valley and the canyons.
"Our future must include clean, healthy air to breathe and water to drink," Corroon said, "and clean, safe land to live on. The smoggy air we see and breathe during inversions should become a thing of the past."
The mayor said he also intends to continue discussions about developing a large convention-center hotel near the Salt Palace. That would be part of a downtown Salt Lake City redevelopment the county hopes to help foster with renovation of Capitol Theatre.
"As I tell my staff every week, 'go forth and do good work,' " Corroon concluded, receiving a standing ovation from employees who nearly filled the County Council chambers.
Afterward, several council members spoke highly of Corroon's dedication and temperament.
"We appreciate all the things you've done to streamline government and to make Salt Lake County a better place to live, a better place to work," said Max Burdick, the council's Republican chairman.
Added his GOP colleague, Steve DeBry: "What struck me was his sincerity. He's done a lot of good. Putting politics aside, he's a nice guy. We're a lot better off [in the county] than we were before he was elected."
DeBry particularly was pleased that Corroon emphasized the need to continue collaboration with the valley's municipalities on services, particularly law enforcement, for a growing population.
"I hope the new mayor has that mind-set," he added.
Democratic Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw said Corroon's final State of the County "showed how lucky we were in Salt Lake County to have him. He is passionate and cares deeply about his job."
Bradshaw also was heartened by Corroon's plans to promote a park bond to build trail systems in the foothills and along the Jordan River and his interest in a convention center hotel and ordinances governing uses of the canyons and foothills.
Corroon took office in 2005 and quickly set about reforming an ethics-challenged county government plagued by scandals, including one that toppled his Republican predecessor.
He enhanced his reputation as a fiscal conservative through his high-profile rejection of a Real Salt Lake soccer stadium deal and cruised to re-election in 2008 before failing in a gubernatorial bid two years later.
Come next January, he will bow out, sticking to his pledge to serve only two terms as mayor.
"I believe we will hand off an open, honest, ethical and efficient government," Corroon said Tuesday. "But before we reach that finish line, there is a lot to do."
Corroon career highlights
In his final State of the County speech, outgoing Mayor Peter Corroon cited these as some of his favorite accomplishments:
• Preserved 3,700 acres of open space
• Increased immunization coverage for Salt Lake County children and won the battles of cryptosporidium and H1N1
• Created an Office of Diversity Affairs
• Introduced curbside weekly recycling to 80,000 homes
• Harvested 130,000 pounds of produce from three county parcels in an urban-farming program
• Balanced budgets through the recession without major tax increases or layoffs
• Established redevelopment areas in Magna and Millcreek and made progress in Kearns
• Escaped flooding in 2011 with improvements made after the wet spring of 2010
• Entertained the masses, 6.3 million last year alone, at cultural events funded by the County's Zoo, Arts and Parks program
• Opened four new libraries, four new senior centers, two recreation centers and a LEED-certified public works administration building
Read Corroon's prepared speech