Local Government Toolkit


When it comes to government, we all have areas of both understanding and ignorance. This is especially true of local government, the realm of city councils, county commissions, and local ordinances. It is simply impossible for one person to have researched everything. Furthermore, topics related to local government can be the trickiest to navigate and often reveal gray areas when it comes to political philosophy.

To this end, we have prepared—and will be constantly expanding—our Local Government Toolkit. Prepared primarily as a resource for local government officials, our Toolkit also provides valuable clarification and perspective for the general public.

The Libertas Guide to Local Government, along with the resources below, can get you up to speed. You can download the PDF of our guide or email localgovt@libertas.org to request one or more printed copies for free.

Featured Topic – Food Trucks

We have worked extensively on food truck related policy. Click an item below to explore our toolkit topic and featured resources.

Food Truck Model Ordinance

This model ordinance is a featured item in our Local Government Toolkit. To download, access this model ordinance via Google Docs. Exception to Local License. A food truck does not need a business license from and may operate in this jurisdiction provided the food truck: has a current health department food truck permit from a local health department in the state of Utah; has a current business license from a political subdivision within the state of Utah that shows that the food truck passed a fire safety inspection conducted in accordance with state law; and follows any other lawful requirements […]

How Should Local Government Deal With Food Trucks?

This is an item in our Local Government Toolkit.  Food trucks—an increasingly popular type of mobile food vendor—benefit the community you represent in a number of ways: Provide a variety of food options in more locations to residents Enable operators to make a living for themselves and those they employ Provide revenue for the state, counties, and cities where they operate As food trucks proliferated in Utah, some local governments went too far in their restrictions or otherwise struggled to amend or adopt ordinances that properly accounted for their business model. This triggered a series of state laws that encouraged […]

Topics Related to Fees

Click an item below to see a specific toolkit topic, or see here for our Local Government Guide for this category.

The Impact of Impact Fees

This is an item in our Local Government Toolkit.  As cities and counties grow, taxpayers have to pay costs related to new or upgraded infrastructure—roads, storm drains, water and sewer lines, and so forth. Depending on how your city or county chooses to operate, it’s possible to place the burden of the growth too heavily on existing taxpayers. One option to balance the burden is through the use of impact fees. Impact fees are one-time charges imposed by a local government on new development projects to help fund the cost of providing infrastructure to that new development. In Utah, their […]

The Difference Between a Fee and a Tax

This is an item in our Local Government Toolkit.  Taxes are collected to raise the revenue necessary to fund the local roads, law enforcement, fire department, and other services that cannot be attributed to a single user or beneficiary. This is in contrast to fees, which fund services that can be measured and attributed to an individual user (such as water). This distinction may sound semantic, but for local government officials such as yourself, the difference is a matter of state law and has important legal ramifications. For example, in 1985, Utah enacted a “Truth-in-Taxation” law that requires local governments […]

Topics Related to Taxes

Click an item below to see a specific toolkit topic, or see here for our Local Government Guide for this category.

Topics Related to Property Rights

Click an item below to see a specific toolkit topic, or see here for our Local Government Guide for this category.

How to Accommodate Microschools

This is an item in our Local Government Toolkit.  In addition to public, charter, and private schools, a relatively new type of school is coming to your city — microschools. Like the name suggests, microschools have smaller class sizes and buildings than typical schools. Here in Utah, there are two types of microschools, each with their own statewide definition: Home-based Microschool: a registered business that, for compensation, provides K-12 education services to 16 or fewer students from an individual’s residential dwelling, accessory dwelling unit, or residential property. Micro–Education Entity: a registered business that, for compensation, provides K-12 education services to […]

What to Do About ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units)

This is an item in our Local Government Toolkit.  An “Accessory Dwelling Unit” (ADU) is the technical term used in state and local codes to describe what is commonly called a mother-in-law apartment, basement apartment, accessory apartment, backyard cottage, etc. They are increasingly popular and can benefit your community in the following ways: Enable older or disabled residents to live on the same lot as their relatives or caretakers, creating a means for their needs to be met and for them to remain in the community. Increase the supply of affordable housing not requiring government subsidies. Increase the tax base […]

What Should Local Regulations on Home-Based Businesses Look Like?

This is an item in our Local Government Toolkit.  One of the primary ways you can help protect the health and safety of residents is to ensure your city or county does not prevent residents from earning a living for themselves and, therefore, feeding, clothing, and paying for the housing and healthcare of their families. One way you can do this is to allow for residents to operate businesses from their home—and to consider whether or not the current city or county ordinance related to home-based businesses is outdated or too restrictive. Instead of making a list of every conceivable […]

Should Local Governments Have Lawn Mandates?

This is an item in our Local Government Toolkit.  Utahns across the state have various preferences for their lawn and landscaping choices. Some residents may want to help preserve water by experimenting with xeriscaping or “localscaping“, others may want to use a portion of their lawn to grow food for their family, and some may prefer a traditional grass lawn. This variety of preferences is expected and natural. However, on the books in a number of cities throughout Utah are requirements that the landscaping on individuals’ property consist partially (or even entirely) of green lawn or otherwise meet specific design […]

Topics Related to Government Services and the Private Market

Click an item below to see a specific toolkit topic, or see here for our Local Government Guide for this category.

Topics Related to Individual Responsibility

Click an item below to see a specific toolkit topic, or see here for our Local Government Guide for this category.

Daytime Curfews for Minors?

This is an item in our Local Government Toolkit.  There are at least ten local governments in Utah that make school-aged children who are outside during school hours suspects of a crime. These laws—typically called “Daytime Curfews” in local ordinances—are increasingly rare for the following reasons: More and more minors are participating in educational programs that do not require them to be at a school building at specified hours of the day. For example, home-schooling, dual enrollment, private, charter, and online schooling. With any daytime curfew law on the books—no matter how many exclusions are made for home-schooled children or […]

How Many People Can Live in a House?

This is an item in our Local Government Toolkit.  You are not required to determine a specific number of occupants for residences in the city or county you represent. Nevertheless, some local governments have ordinances that limit occupancy—for all residences—to as low as three or four. These laws not only remove the judgment of property owners, but they fail to account for variations in home size, bedroom numbers, and parking availability. They also actively hurt those you represent by making housing shortages worse. Some cite various health and safety concerns as reasons for strict occupancy limits. However, most ordinances have […]

Topics Related to Transparency

Click an item below to see a specific toolkit topic, or see here for our Local Government Guide for this category.

Topics Related to Law Enforcement

Click an item below to see a specific toolkit topic, or see here for our Local Government Guide for this category.

Topics Related to Public Infrastructure

Click an item below to see a specific toolkit topic, or see here for our Local Government Guide for this category.

Model Ordinances

Click an item below to access a model ordinance for a specific topic.

Micro-Education Entity Model Ordinance

This model ordinance is a featured item in our Local Government Toolkit. To download, access this model ordinance via Google Docs. Are you a local elected official and interested in chatting with us more about this model ordinance? Please reach out to us at localgovt@libertas.org—we’d love to chat!

Home-Based Microschool Model Ordinance

This model ordinance is a featured item in our Local Government Toolkit. To download, access this model ordinance via Google Docs. Are you a local elected official and interested in chatting with us more about this model ordinance? Please reach out to us at localgovt@libertas.org—we’d love to chat!

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Model Ordinance

This model ordinance is a featured item in our Local Government Toolkit. To download, access this model ordinance via Google Docs. Definition. An accessory dwelling unit (ADU)—also known as a mother-in-law apartment, accessory apartment, basement apartment, etc.— is defined in Utah code to mean “a habitable living unit added to, created within, or detached from a primary single-family dwelling and contained on one lot.” Permitted Use. ADUs, both internal to and detached from a primary single-family dwelling, are a permitted use in all residential zones, provided the ADU meets all of the following criteria: All construction and remodeling related to […]

Home-Based Business Model Ordinance

This model ordinance is a featured item in our Local Government Toolkit. To download, access this model ordinance via Google Docs. Exception to Local License. The use of a residential dwelling for a home-based business is a permitted use and does not require a person to apply, register, or obtain any permit, license, variance or other type of prior approval from the city to operate the home-based business—provided the home-based business meets all the following criteria: Secondary to the use as a residential dwelling; Complies with federal and Utah state law and pays all applicable taxes; Obtains all county, state, […]

Food Truck Model Ordinance

This model ordinance is a featured item in our Local Government Toolkit. To download, access this model ordinance via Google Docs. Exception to Local License. A food truck does not need a business license from and may operate in this jurisdiction provided the food truck: has a current health department food truck permit from a local health department in the state of Utah; has a current business license from a political subdivision within the state of Utah that shows that the food truck passed a fire safety inspection conducted in accordance with state law; and follows any other lawful requirements […]