Should Emery County join the Seven County Coalition
The Emery County Commissioners met in their July meeting. An item tabled from the previous meeting was discussed and tabled again. The commission discussed whether to start the process to be part of the resolution creating the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition. The seven counties involved include, Emery, Grand, Carbon, Uintah, San Juan, Daggett and Duchesne. Commissioner Jeff Horrocks said he has heard from some people in the county with concerns. Mike McCandless, Emery County Economic Director spoke to the issue. He said the main focus for creating this new entity is to secure funding. The coalition could apply for funds from the Community Impact Board. They want to look at projects in rail and transportation and help them along with the permitting processes including NEPA and environmental impact assessments. All seven counties would cooperate equally in the coalition. Each would appoint a representative from that county to sit on the board. McCandless said the memorandum of understanding for the seven counties has been in place for several months. The creation of an entity would help knock down barriers to economic expansion in the seven county area. Projects which might see an economic benefit would benefit the entire coalition with the breakdown of 70 percent going to the county involved and the other 20 percent being distributed to the other counties involved and 10 percent back into the coalition to operate and fund future projects.
Jeff Guymon spoke as a concerned citizen. He said he has concerns with another government entity being created. He thinks the infrastructure is already in place to make these things happen without creating another layer of bureaucracy. If the group gets into trouble financially then who is responsible? If the coalition defaults then would it go back to those who created the organization?
County Attorney David Blackwell said the entity has made provisions as best they could to hold harmless the counties involved. "If they go defunct then the only way they could be held harmless was if they don't owe anyone any money."
McCandless pointed out the county has been involved with projects in the past involving private companies. One example is the road to Lila Canyon. Some large projects need approval from multiple counties. One project the coalition would like to see move forward is the railroad facility into the Uintah Basin. It's been talked about for years. These large projects need cooperation from multiple counties as well as agencies.
McCandless said he sees the CIB funding as the major reason for forming the entity.
Guymon said the Special Service District number one is in place for roads. He sees this coalition as one more step removed from the public eyes and input. He believes that businesses should own the land and pay taxes on it to benefit the counties. "I believe in simplified government," said Guymon.
Brenda Tuttle the clerk/auditor said with the special service districts, then the county always knows what it is liable for. With this group, the county could be out on a limb with whatever the group decides to do.
Commissioner James Nelson said his concern is being left out of the mix, should Emery County decide not to move forward with the rest of the counties.
McCandless said the county does need protections in the agreement and the intent is to knock down barriers ahead of the curve with projects. Ray Petersen, public lands director asked don't we have the ability to do that now? McCandless said the Association of Governments helps with that as do local special service districts, but each county has a different process so the seven county organization could lead a consistent organization for all seven counties.
Any final document prepared by the seven county coalition would need approval by the county.
McCandless suggested the county wait to approve until all its questions are answered. Clarification of financial responsibilities that might be incurred by the county must be adequately addressed before entering into an agreement.
The next meeting of the seven county coalition is in the first week of August. Commissioner Nelson made a motion to table the item. Commissioner Horrocks said he views the seven county coalition as a good thing as long as it doesn't encumber the county. Commissioner Nelson said we need to make sure we get our share along with the other counties.
Commissioner Migliori agreed to table the item, but expressed concern that the county might need to take somewhat of a risk to be able to move ahead with economic development. He views the coalition as a tool for economic development and if the county isn't willing to take some risk, then we will stay the same. The topic will be discussed again in the July 22 commission meeting.
The commission denied an ambulance write-off request for Brandi Seyler. The commission will look into the matter further.
The commission approved the contract with Johansen and Tuttle Engineering for design of the Huntington State Park Trail System. The trail is between Huntington and Huntington Lake. The trail is being completed with a grant from the state parks recreational trails division. Money is also being provided by the Emery County Travel Bureau. This first phase will tackle the steep hill into fishermans cove.
The commission approved the Emergency Management Performance Grant Articles of Agreement for FY 2014 for the sheriff's office. The grant is for $30,000. The commission ratified the Cooperative Agreement for Noxious Weed Management between the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands and Emery County Weed and Mosquito Department.
The commission approved the amendment to the cooperative agreement with the NRCS for the work on the debris basins in Huntington Canyon. This agreement extends the work through the fall of this year. There is work going on now and hopefully approval will be given soon from the Army Corp of Engineers to begin work on the lower debris basin.
McCandless explained the Reciprocal Grants of Easement between State of Utah and Emery Refining, L.L.C. These will allow access to the remaining properties in the industrial park in Green River. When the railroad is put through there on the old highway 6, that road will be destroyed. Access will need to be placed elsewhere on the property. The easements will also allow for utilities to come into the properties.
Commissioner Migliori reported the Emery County Business Chamber luncheon will be on July 16. The speaker will be Neal Peacock and he will talk about leadership skills. The historical preservation society will have the cut out silhouettes of the Spanish Trail put out on the desert in July sometime. The rocket competition was held in Green River. The Castle Dale Stake youth conference did some service projects in the county. Migliori attended the Moab business conference and there were several attendees from Carbon and Emery counties and he was glad to see the counties supporting each other. Demolition work will begin at the Huntington ball complex this week. Fencing will be available from the tear down if any of the cities want to make use of it.
Commissioner Nelson reported they will need a water connection on the road department property for when the ditch is converted to the pipeline. The road department will continue to need water at that location. The libraries are doing away with the Dewey Decimal system for some of their books and they will be grouped by topics. The Emery Water Conservancy District met in their water meeting. In two weeks, Joe's Valley had more water run into it, than all of last year. Joe's Valley did not spill. Millsite did spill. Dredging will begin at Millsite on Thursday. Some debris has been pulled out of Huntington River in anticipation of the monsoon season. A public hearing will be held on July 28 at a 1 p.m. to discuss the contract between the Bureau of Reclamation and the Emery Water Conservancy District.
Commissioner Horrocks said he has been occupied with maintenance work on the low income apartments and getting them ready for their inspection. They have passed the inspection both the buildings and the financial inspection. He has been working on getting the books in order and plans are being made to hire a part-time maintenance person for the buildings.
The commission approved a business license for Payne's Courier Service. They approved to hire Tracy Clark as the full time Correction Cook with benefits. Brent Ward was moved from a Correction Officer I to Correction Officer II for completing two consecutive years on the job. Kenneth Eley, Jr was promoted from Patrol Deputy I to Patrol Deputy II for completing three consecutive years on the job.