The council met on Wednesday morning and appointed Rhonda Kippen to the county council. Member Karen Sunday moved that Kippen be appointed and Member Al Lundgren seconded the motion. Kippen was appointed with Member Sunday, Lundgren, Kelley, and Hansen voting in favor and Member Mathews and Chairman Creager opposing.
The meeting was not for public comment, but comment ensued spontaneously from those assembled. Comments were shouted from Larry Hatch, Robert Kilmer, and others. Comments made by some of those assembled included that the appointment was made because Kippen was a woman, that the other applicants had more experience, and that Kippen should not be appointed because she is a county employee.
Chairman Creager reminded those assembled that this was not a meeting for public comment. The meeting was simply to discuss and vote on the appointment of a council member. This position is being appointed by the council because of the resignation of former council member Rodney Haslam who resigned because of health issues. The position will serve for the remaining two years of Haslam’s term.
Member Lundgren reported that since the last council meeting he had talked with the Lt. Governor’s office and the Attorney General’s office and after extensive discussion they stated that there would be few conflicts of interest for Kippen as an employee with the county. Lundgren stated that Kippen’s position in the planning office is that of a secretary and that she had no influence on the decisions that are made in the department and would not have a conflict of interest on planning and zoning items. He added that Kippen would have a conflict of interest only on salary and benefits for those in the Planning Department and would not be able to vote on those items.
Concerns have also been voiced that Kippen would be the supervisor of her supervisor. While the council has oversight as the executive and legislative bodies for the county, the planning and development director, Grant Crowell who is responsible for the department where Kippen works has traditionally reported to the county council administrator. With this position being vacant Crowell is currently reporting to Tina Kelley who has the portfolio assignment responsibility for Crowell’s department. It seems clear, however, that the appointment of Kippen will add to the complexity of the relationships and decisions within the county government.
Member Sunday, in a conversation with The Morgan County News reported that her decision was influenced by Kippen’s energy and enthusiasm. She said that the council, “is familiar with Kippen’s work ethic. She is a workaholic.” Sunday also said that Kippen would have an advantage over the other applicants because she understands the issues in the county. Her background in banking, Sunday added, gives her a good understanding of the bond issues the county has faced. Sunday also expressed that Kippen has a good understanding of the county’s master plan and the county’s policies and practices in the planning and zoning areas.
Sunday said that it takes about two years for a new council member to come up to speed on the issues faced by the council and observed that this position only has two years remaining. She felt that Kippen could, “hit the ground running.”
Member Kelley echoed the sentiments of Member Sunday in the time it takes for someone to understand the issues faced by the council. She also mentioned Kippen’s experience with budgeting and bonding issues as influential to her decision.
The council then considered portfolio assignments. Kippen agreed to take all of the areas previously assigned to council member Haslam. These include the Council of Governments, the Fairground Board, the Fair Board, and Utah Job Services.
Kippen was scheduled to be sworn in on Thursday, November 4, at 4:00 p.m. Kippen’s first council meeting will be on November 16.