Corroon says goodbye
In December, now-former Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon met with members of the media to review his time in office.
The last eight years have been a good run, he said. “Eight years is about right to do what we wanted to do: change the culture in county government, work on [open space and] transparency.”
“I hope I’m remembered as having left the county a better place than I found it and a person who served the people of Utah,” he said.
Corroon expounded on the successes of his administration. They “restored the citizens’ faith in their government” after previous scandals, and changed the format of government, putting “programs and divisions in the right department,” he said.
During his two terms as mayor, Corroon said Salt Lake County became one of the greenest counties in the nation. He pointed to the rooftop solar panel arrays on the Salt Palace (some of the largest in the nation) as evidence of the county’s commitment to renewable energy.
He’s particularly proud of developing alternatives to incarceration.
“Basically a warehousing system was turned into a humane way of dealing with prisoners,” he said.
Of his administration he said: “Step by step, we created a mission, a vision and a set of goals.”
Corroon established the department of administrative services, which “helped us organize our government better, save a whole lot of money and provide better service,” he said.
During his eight years, they balanced the budget every year and maintained the county’s AAA bond rating. “Salt Lake County is one of only 30 counties nationwide that have that rating,” he said.
He also established the office of emergency services, which facilitated the county’s heavy involvement in the Great Utah Shakeout.
Over the last eight years, the county set aside thousands of acres of open space, cleaned up the Jordan River - acquiring open space “the size of the city of Holladay,” and secured canyons along the East Bench, as well as Yellow Fork and Rose Canyons, he said.
During that time, the county developed a weekly curbside recycling program, upgraded animal services and upgraded and built several new senior centers.
They also “down-sized and right-sized” the county’s fleet, a task that was already under way before he took office, Corroon said.
Crediting County Councilman Jim Bradley with the idea, Corroon talked about how the county has turned property it’s not using over to farmers in an urban farming program and also developed community gardens in several areas of the county.
“What a great way to bring communities together,” he said.
As well as developing general plans for the unincorporated areas, the county, along with 16 municipal partners, developed the cooperative county plan - a free GIS database which can be used by the county and the cities for planning.
During Corroon’s tenure as mayor, the county has been the recipient of several awards and grants, including a $5 million sustainable community grant.
Corroon said the county is still working on getting a new convention hotel (currently under study) and combining countywide public works into a single department like the UPD and UFA. He’d like to see animal services and the court system develop similar models.
Corroon praised his successor.
“I feel comfortable with Ben McAdams being our new county mayor and look forward to seeing him work on those projects.”
Does Corroon have any regrets?
“I wish we hadn’t done that police fee – but it was the right thing to do,” he said. “I wish we hadn’t asked for a tax increase this year – but it was the right thing to do.”
“I wish I didn’t have an email account as mayor,” he said jokingly, “but it’s one of the great ways I can communicate with citizens.” During his time as mayor, Corroon received more than 200 emails a day.
Corroon went after McAdams’ seat in the Utah Senate, but delegates ultimately appointed Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis to the position.
Corroon said he is currently pursuing possibilities in the real estate industry, along with some start-up high-tech companies.