South Salt Lake mayor vetoes anti-nepotism ordinance

South Salt Lake mayor vetoes anti-nepotism ordinance (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Mayor Cherie Wood of South Salt Lake used her veto power to drop the ax on an anti-nepotism ordinance passed by the city council on Oct. 12. The ordinance passed 6 votes to 1.

Councilwoman Debbie Snow said after complaints that the mayor’s relatives were getting jobs and special treatment at the city, the council decided to deal with the issue to restore public trust in city government.

Wood said in a memo to the council that she vetoed the rule because it may be in violation of state code. She also defended the hiring of relatives.

“The ordinance assumes that one kind of relationship – the familial relationship – is unacceptable in the workplace,” she wrote in the memo.

Snow said the mayor’s explanation proves why the anti-nepotism ordinance, banning all relatives of elected officials from city jobs, is needed.

“I don’t think she understands why it’s not OK that she continue to give jobs to her family members,” she said.

Wood currently has three relatives working for the city.

Her brother, Jason Taylor, is Water Division manager and makes $103,867 per year in salary and benefits. He was hired long before Wood became mayor.

Another brother, Christopher Taylor is a police officer earning $46,212 per year in salary and benefits. Her sister-in-law, Julie Taylor, makes $59,317 (salary plus benefits) as a business support coordinator. They were hired while Wood has been mayor but she said they don’t’ report directly to her

Her children at one time had small jobs with the city’s after-school tutoring program but other employees, including two city council members, have had their children employed in the same program too.

Councilman Kevin Rapp, who introduced the ordinance, said employees have complained to him that Wood’s family members get raises and special treatment. Citizens have expressed to him that the mayor should not be hiring her relatives.

Rapp said he introduced the ordinance because citizens are concerned.

“This isn’t a family business. This is city government,” he said over the phone.

Wood said things between her and the council have been tense since she vetoed a plan to bring a Wal Mart store to the site of the old Granite High.

Snow said she has nothing against the mayor and does not want to put focus of the mayor/city council relationship when the focus should be in issues before the city.

Wood, who started working at city hall when she was 19, said her mother worked there before her and instilled in her siblings the importance of public service.

After recent events, she said she would not want more relatives working at city hall because she doesn’t want them getting caught up in politics.

The city council can override the mayor’s veto.

The anti-nepotism ordinance will be discussed at the next city council meeting.

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