A statewide, nonprofit organization, Utah Association of Counties (UAC) provides services to improve local government operations for counties and in effect, all Utah citizens. We’re now more than three months into the GovOS-UAC partnership and the teams behind the organizations are working closely to provide resources that benefit Utah communities.
In this partner profile, we hear from Bryan Rodgers, UAC’s Corporate Relations Program Director, who talks about the organization’s success at promoting harmony among members, some of the most popular member resources and the changes he’s seeing in the Utah travel industry.
Year Established: 1924
CEO: Brandy Grace
Members: All 29 Utah Counties
Can you tell us a little bit about UAC members?
UAC is a unique organization comprised of rural and urban county elected officials who come together for the betterment of local government. Each group faces quite drastically different issues; rural cowboys and ranchers worry about public land issues differently than urban community members along the Wasatch Front.
Since a smaller population equals a smaller tax base, an area like Wayne County is heavily reliant on federal and state dollars, and the transient room taxes from heavy tourism traffic to their local National Park of Capital Reef. Those dollars are essential and help with local infrastructure needs after a surging summer of visitation. This is something larger metropolitan areas, with their own unique concerns, might not experience. At the end of the day, where else do you get to work with such a broad range of individuals?
What are some of the top resources you offer members?
Legislative advocacy is probably our most utilized resource. The legislative session is a fast and furious 45 days beginning in mid-January and ending in mid-March. We have staff who work with members and legislators on county issues every day during the session. This has been a huge success.
Next would be our conferences and conventions, which offer opportunities for members to network and connect. We see great participation at these events. Members appreciate the opportunity to learn from one another and we have a lot of fun. Finally, the new programs we provide as a resource aid members by saving them time and money, and helping generate new income for services.
What feedback have you heard from members this year?
This year’s feedback has been wonderful. Our staff is doing a great job and members are happy with us and one another. In the past, members seemed to disagree more often about minor issues, and those in rural and urban counties were often at odds.
Under the leadership of our current CEO, Brandy Grace, we keep hearing how this is the best the Association has gotten along as far back as anyone can remember.
How has the travel industry changed since 2020?
As with most places, COVID turned the Utah travel industry upside down. Initially, counties with national parks were nervous since they rely heavily on tourism to support county budgets.
At the onset of the pandemic, hardly anyone was traveling but as we all know, that changed drastically and Utah’s five national parks were soon packed with visitors, many of whom ended up moving to Utah.
What STR trends have you been seeing this year?
With so many travelers coming to Utah during the pandemic, the popularity of short-term rentals exploded.
Because the economy was strong, many individuals were attempting to flip houses but now instead of selling them, there is increased demand to use them as short-term rentals.
What’s one of your predictions for STRs in 2023?
I think there is a looming housing crisis in Utah. Similar to 2007, it feels as if people are overextended and with rising interest rates, STRs will most likely cool off a bit.
I think a slowdown may occur but it will not be as bad as in other states around the nation. Utah is very industrious and entrepreneurial, and we handled the last housing crisis very well.
What’s been the UAC’s greatest success so far?
The respect and civility now present within the association is our greatest success story. Being able to disagree in government but also come up with solutions has been huge for us. Less arguing and more problem-solving—how it should always be.
How has it been to partner with GovOS?
We are so thankful to GovOS—the team has been fantastic to work with. Even though we’re only about three months in, I predict many counties will begin using GovOS services as they learn the benefits to their communities. (Missing out on taxes from the STR market can be detrimental to county budgets.)
The 2022 UAC Annual Convention in November will be a great opportunity to further our joint mission for better engagement within Utah communities. We are extremely grateful for our partners and could not do what we do without them.