Commissioners discuss county issues
Commissioner Ira Hatch stated that Emery County is a member of the Utah Counties Insurance Pool, and as a result, needs a representative to attend meetings of that body and report back to the county. In the event of necessary voting, the representative will cast votes on behalf of Emery County. Following discussion, Commissioner Hatch was named as that representative, and Mary Huntington was named as alternate.
A discussion of selling a parcel of county owned land resulted in the ratification of the intent to sell. A Castle Dale property owner contends that when he bought his property nearly 20 years ago, this portion was legally his. In the process of recording the deed, the 7.5 x 75 foot parcel of land was inadvertently omitted. In the ensuing years, he has not been aware that this portion was not legally his and as a result, the taxes were not paid, and it reverted to county ownership.
The resident has asked the county to sell this portion of land. Following the protocol to dispose of property, the county is required to advertise the property for sale. Kris Bell, the county assessor informed the commissioners that the market value for the piece of property is $22. County attorney David Blackwell suggested researching the deed to determine if the property was recorded in error. If that proves to be the case, the county can save the expense of disposition of the land, and transfer ownership. The commissioners approved this action.
During the past few weeks, the county offices have been in the process of changing computer programs. During the transition, the Green Belt properties have been incorrectly taxed. Steve Barton explained that the discrepancies have come to light and on investigation, the amount in contention is around $600. There are many Green Belt properties in Emery County, the majority of the discrepancies are less than $1, with very few being more than $5.
Property owners have brought in the tax notices, and the amounts shown on the computer screens in the office are different from the amounts on the tax notices. The commissioners approved to use the amount shown on the computer program, and abate the remainder if any exists. Barton said some of the property owners have overpaid also, and those amounts are in the same range as the underpayments. Those overpayments will be credited to the next years tax.
Commissioner Drew Sitterud stated he has been to a meeting of the National Resource Conservation Service. The NRCS is considering changing the split of payment currently given for the Colorado River Salinity Project, from 75-25 to 50-50. If this happens, we have three projects in Emery County that will be affected and probably go bust. They are Huntington, Green River, and Emery. These projects are currently underway and are depending on the 75-25 split. They cannot change now, said Sitterud.
Sitterud has instructed public lands director Ray Petersen to draft a letter to be sent to all involved agencies and interested parties concerning the problems this change would create for Emery County. The commissioners approved to finalize the letter, use county letterhead paper, and mail the letter as soon as possible.
Commissioner Sitterud recently met with the forest service, Bureau of Land Management, school trust lands, Grand and San Juan counties, and the State of Utah. This meeting was to address the problems being encountered with names of roads that intersect several agency jurisdictions. The names of these roads need to be consistent throughout so as not to create confusion in the event of an emergency situation in the new E-911 system which crosses jurisdictions.
The committee has proposed that these roads be given a hyphenated name, consisting of a number and a common name. The forest service has numbered the roads while other agencies use names, so if the formal notation for each road contains that number and the name, all agencies will know which road is being referenced. This designation will also aid the State of Utah which wants to sign all the roads throughout the state for tourism purposes.
Commissioner Gary Kofford noted that Jeff Evans of the state office of environmental quality had been in the county recently and toured the landfill facility. Evans compliments Rex Funk and the county road department, on the progress being made at the landfill. Evans also notified the county that he will be returning soon to complete an inspection.
Commissioner Kofford stated that he and Commissioner Hatch have been attending tax reform taskforce meetings. The taskforce is looking to make reforms to all the taxes in Utah. Commissioner Hatch said that the biggest item being discussed is the shifting of 1 percent of the sales tax that normally comes back to cities and counties to the schools. The taskforce is proposing that the cities and counties make up for the lost revenue with increases in personal property taxes.
One assurance that was received from the taskforce was not to disturb the centrally assessed taxes. We must be aware and stay involved in the process, said Commissioner Hatch. When this issue is introduced into the legislature, it will probably stay there open for 90 days, and no one knows how it will end. It could have big affects on every resident of Utah, Commissioner Hatch stated.
The next Emery County Commission meeting will be Nov. 15 at 9 a.m.