Commission approves 2013 budget
The Emery County Commissioners met in their last meeting of 2012 to approve a budget for 2013 and other items of business. They approved an air space permit for Santa Claus to fly over Emery County in his yearly flight on Dec. 24.
A change order was approved for the Buckhorn Information Center. This change order involves the gathering area which has a fire pit and seating for lectures or other activities. This has been a joint project involving the Bureau of Land Management, the Emery County Travel Bureau and the county. Also involved in the change order was the raising of the restrooms, additional wiring and an opening in the fence, flag pole, benches. Jones and Demille purchased the material for the benches and the contractor installed them. The entire project was $255,000 which was $500 below budget. Emery County will own this Buckhorn Information Center as soon as paperwork is completed on any final bills. The information center will be manned by volunteers on major holiday weekends to pass out maps and travel information and to answer any questions visitors may have.
The commission approved the meeting schedules and holidays for 2013. They will meet on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 9 a.m. Variations to this schedule will be the Aug. 27 meeting which will be held in Green River and the Dec. 17 meeting which will be held at 5 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. and will also include the budget hearings.
The board of the Municipal Building Authority will meet directly after the regularly scheduled commission meeting on the second Tuesday of each month.
The holiday schedule was approved for 2013 for the county employees and includes Jan. 1 for New Year's Day, Jan. 21 for Human Rights day, Feb. 18 for President's Day, May 27 for Memorial Day, July 4 for Independence Day, July 24 for Pioneer Day, Sept. 2, for Labor Day, Oct. 14, for Columbus Day, Nov. 11, for Veteran's Day, Nov. 28-29 for Thanksgiving, Dec. 24-half day and Dec. 25 for Christmas, Dec. 31, half-day for New Year's Eve.
Joyce Guymon was re-appointed to the Emery County Library Board. Bart Cox was re-appointed to the Emery County Housing board and Judy Ann Scott was re-appointed to the Career Service Council.
The commission approved a motion to advertise for all of the open spots on the boards. You can apply on line or pick up an application from the county clerk's office.
Mike McCandless, Emery County Economic Development director spoke to the commission concerning the creation of a trail from Huntington State Park to town. This trail would be a walking/biking non-motorized trail. The county approved a fiscal assistance agreement between the Utah State Parks and Emery County for the development of the first phase of the project. McCandless explained this agreement will allow the county to apply for grants and request bids so the construction can begin. Entering into this agreement is the first step. The project could take up to two years. Easements must be applied for and the project includes dirt work and fencing, but nothing structural.
The commissioners agreed it will be a good project for Emery County and for Huntington City. McCandless said there is also talk of extending the Scenic Byway from SR-31 to Huntington State Park.
The commission agreed to send a letter to Pres. Barack Obama to voice the county's opposition to the proposal for the Greater Canyonlands wilderness area. This is a citizens proposal that would increase the acreage at Canyonlands and would include 196,000 acres within Emery County. Commissioner James Nelson said the letter would be sent to Pres. Obama and the Department of the Interior to voice opposition to the proposal. Emery County believes in a balanced approach to public lands and they have been working for years in a grassroots effort to develop a county plan. The Utah Association of Counties also sent a letter signed by each of the counties to the president that voiced UACs opposition to the Greater Canyonlands proposal.
The commission approved the wildland fire budget for the $36,500 requested.
The county accepted the changes in the personnel policy presented by personnel director, Mary Huntington.
Commissioner Nelson reported a swimming pool committee is being established to deal with issues related to the pool including pool temperature.
Wade Nielsen, county roads department head asked who would maintain the new trail between the park and Huntington. The clubs and users will help maintain the trail.
The commissioners gave their reports. Commissioner Laurie Pitchforth thanked everyone for their help with the senior citizen Christmas party. Leslie Bolinder and Laurel Weaver were a big help and the drama department at the high school entertained the seniors. Food Ranch prepared the food for the event and many volunteers from the county helped serve the food.
Commissioner Nelson thanked Leslie Bolinder for her help in getting all of the county boards organized. There are several vacancies available at this time on boards. He wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Commissioner Pitchforth was attending her last meeting as commissioner and she thanked everyone for the support they've given her. "It's been an honor and a privilege to be a commissioner," said Commissioner Pitchforth.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks thanked Commissioner Pitchforth for her work for the county. He said he attended the RAC meeting and they talked about hunting privileges for veterans and handicapped hunters. He went to the CIB board with Huntington City where they were granted almost $1 million to help with the problems from the fire and flooding. This would be a 2.5 percent loan, because money is tight right now at the CIB and Huntington City will evaluate their financial situation to see if the city can afford the loan.
The commissioners went out of commission meeting into a public hearing on the budgets to receive any comments about the amended 2012 budget and the 2013 budget. Brenda Tuttle, clerk/auditor explained the amended budget also includes the actual amount of mineral lease money that came in. She doesn't budget for it and waits for the actual amount to come in because it varies from year to year. Another area which sees changes is the capital expenditures after the exact amounts spent are included. The municipal building authority paid off a bond associated with the jail which will save the county $1 million in interest.
The budgets for the Castle Valley Special Service District were also discussed by Jacob Sharp, district manager.
Tuttle said the county budget must be balanced and they can only spend what they take in.
Commissioner Horrocks thanked Tuttle for her hard work on the budget to keep the county inline financially. Tuttle explained the judgment levy the county is issuing. PacifiCorp is being reimbursed $319,310 for tax appeals for 2006-07. Between all the entities it was $1 million that needs to be reimbursed to the utility. To recapture some of these funds the county is imposing a judgment levy and the county tax payers will be responsible for 20 percent of the payback. This money to pay PacifiCorp back is not in the budget, because the money was collected six years ago. The judgment levy will help recoup some of the costs.
Commissioner Horrocks said 80 percent of the cost will be recouped back from the utility. Tuttle said this increase for Emery County tax payers is for one year only. Tuttle reported the school district will have to pay back $500,000 and will probably issue a judgment levy in 2013.
All of the budgets and the amended budgets were approved along with the approval to pay Pacifi-Corp back.
Commissioner Horrocks presented a plaque of appreciation to outgoing Commissioner Pitchforth and thanked her for her four years of service to the county and its citizens.