Green River issues discussed during meeting
The Emery County Commissioners met in their regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 17 at 9 a.m. Those present were Commissioners Randy Johnson, Ira Hatch and Drew Sitterud. Sheriff Lamar Guymon and County Attorney Dave Blackwell were also present.
The first item on the agenda was the check edit list, additional claims, requisitions and dispositions. Clerk Bruce Funk presented the lists to the commission. They discussed the costs associated with the rodeo and cleanup. They will look at the budget and adjust costs for next year. The costs relating to the housing of female prisoners in other facilities will no longer be incurred. Sheriff Guymon said they have picked up all county female prisoners and are now housing them in the new public safety complex. There are already four female prisoners over what they have beds for.
Another item was the costs associated with the rental of porta-potty units for job sites. Road department manager Rex Funk said the employees were balking at the idea of having to haul their own unit around and be responsible for seeing it is maintained. The matter will be discussed further before any decision is made. A new couch and loveseat will be purchased for the airport lobby. A digital camera will be purchased with funds from the safe communities grant. A request for a new validator for the recorder's office was also approved.
The next item was Pat Snowball with personnel matters. She requested an officer in the Sheriff's Office be moved from dispatch to a corrections officer. In the road department she asked that the resignation of Kern Behling be accepted. This vacated position will be advertised in house first and then available positions will be filled from the roster. Also a position of temporary laborer was approved.
The next item was the approval of the indigent tax abatement. This abatement was for seven residents who had turned in the required information and approved for such an allowance which can only include a tax abatement of 50 percent of total taxes due.
The next item was the closing of the board of equalization. The next item was the setting of budget work meetings and setting a date for the public hearing for the adoption of the budget. This budget hearing will be at the Dec. 17 commission meeting at 6 p.m. It will be preceded by a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. The canvassing of the election results was also set for Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. The budget work meetings will be held on Oct. 4 at 9 a.m., Oct. 8 at 1 p.m., Oct. 18 at 9 a.m. and Oct. 21 at 9 a.m. These work meetings are just the beginning in a series of meetings with each department in the county to assess their needs and set their budgets for the coming year.
The next item on the agenda was Mayor Glen Dale Johnson from Green River. He approached the commission with a request that they consider allowing Green River City to become a member of the Castle Valley Special Service District. He pointed out that the roads and drainage systems existing in Green River are not as new as the western end of the county, due to the district operating in western Emery County for the last 20 plus years. Green River has not had that service and they realize that the service is not free and comes with taxes and user fees. The annexation will generate more money into Green River through the transient room tax. These impacts from travelers are greatly felt in Green River City. "It is Green River's request to become a member of the Castle Valley Special Service District," said Mayor Johnson.
Commissioner Johnson said they will gather the numbers and see if it is feasible with the Green River debt and the bonding of the CVSSD. It is not a simple thing. The district was created within the shadow of impact of the power plants and the mineral production to keep those plants operating. It was not clear whether Green River was given the opportunity to come on board originally, but if they were they turned down the idea. CVSSD bonded last year for projects to be completed in the future, none of these projects were for the Green River area. If Green River comes on board at this time, they would be partially responsible in helping to pay back a bond which is not budgeted to help them.
CVSSD manager, Darrel Leamaster also spoke to the issue. He said the authority lies with the commissioners to make the final decision and it could be accomplished in two ways. It can be initiated by the county commission to pass a resolution to annex Green River into the district. Another way is for the Green River citizens to gather enough signatures to have an initiative petition delivered to the county commissioners, this would need to consist of 10 percent of voters or 10 percent of the property valuation.
The process would include notification and a public hearing. Also written and oral comments would be taken on the issue. The Green River voters would vote on the issue.
The statute refers to annexations in the same way, with the same procedures the original district was set up with. The commission would receive comments for 15 days to decide if they wanted to annex.
When the district was formed by the power company to mitigate impacts on public entities. They couldn't give money directly to the county since the county couldn't give this money back to the cities. Legislation was passed so the district could be created and it was selective in what it would allow the district to use funds for; these uses included basic infrastructure like water, sewer and roads.
The law states that the same services must be provided throughout the district and taxed evenly throughout the district. One possibility listed was in having voters approve another bond. If this could be accomplished the bond could cover Green River projects; with the tax burden being shared county wide.
It was described as a tough situation with no easy quick fix solutions. Green River councilman Tom Burr requested that Leamaster come to a Green River City council meeting and describe and discuss the situation with Green River citizens. Leamaster said he would be happy to come and discuss the situation.
Mayor Johnson explained that Green River recently bonded for the new water treatment plant and improvements to the sewer system and their debt is high at this time. Leamaster explained at the beginning of the district, the cities were all in various stages of debt and their debt stayed in place. Water and sewer rates were set so they could pay off their debts over a period of time.
Mayor Johnson said the motels impact Green River greatly. "We feel somewhat excluded and want to be treated like everyone else in the county," he said.
Commissioner Johnson told Mayor Johnson that we love Green River and will look at all the ramifications and move it along.
Mayor Johnson said when the transient room tax is collected by the county they will receive only what the county sends back to them.
Commissioner Johnson said in regards to PacifiCorp that he has spoken to them about this matter and their response was that if it does not adversely effect other tax payers they would not be against Green River coming into the district. We need to look into it and put it into a format so we can understand it.
The commission made a motion to put together all relevant information about the matter and research all avenues for Green River.
The discussion of the vacancy in the Emery County Travel Bureau was discussed. The position is being advertised and will be filled with someone from Green River.
Commissioner Hatch said they have met with Grand County on the operations of the John Wesley Powell River Museum. As soon as the annexation is finalized the Grand County Travel Bureau will leave the museum. He said it was a good meeting with needed discussion taking place.
Leamaster told the commission of the requirements of water surface proliferation plans for all the streams in the county which have water treatment plants on them. The Huntington Canyon plan is in place and the other streams all need these water source protection plans and they will be working on them.
Jeff Guymon was on hand to discuss the grants for the libraries. They are installing 13 computers for the libraries and also laser printers. The grant also comes with one year of technical support and training for library staff which will take place in the next two months. The commissioners felt like the county should take advantage of this training and that any county employees wishing to attend should do so. These new computers for the libraries will be for the use of the library patrons.
The commission approved the requisitions for the grants and thanked Jeff and the library employees for securing these grants.
Clerk Funk discussed with the commissioners the materials needed for preparing the voter information pamphlets. This information needs to be in to the clerk's office by Oct. 5. Anyone wishing to write opposition for the monument proposal concept had to respond to the clerk's office in writing 45 days prior to this deadline. There is a 500 word limit on these responses and they will be mailed to voters eight days prior to the election. Clerk Funk also said the initiative on the radioactive waste would also be on the ballot.
Commissioner Johnson acknowledged the need to tell the pros and cons to the voters. He also pointed out that not a dime of tax payer money was used in the informational video about the monument concept.
Maughn Guymon from the Southeastern Utah Area Agency on Aging was welcomed to the meeting. He was on hand for the consideration and the approval of the 2003 fiscal year contract between Emery County and the agency. He said the legislature had been kind to the agency and they didn't take any cuts beyond the initial 6 percent hit and their budget looks pretty good. The commissioners approved the contract.
The next item on the agenda was the ratification of the cooperative agreement modifications for interpretive enhancements on I-70.
The commission minutes were approved for the last meeting with minor changes. The commission reports were next on the agenda. Commissioner Hatch reported that he had been out with John Niebergall from the forest service and they are retaking old photos and looking at sites in preparation for the 100th birthday of the forest service next year. He also reported that he visited with the people in Emery after the flood and assessed flood damages. He said the people there said there would have been more damages, but the road crew worked quickly in building dikes and assisting in directing the water where they wanted it to go and avoided more damage to the town.
Commissioner Sitterud reported that he would be meeting with state legislators and will take any commission questions to them. He also reported that they had signed the papers with the University of Utah on the Horse Canyon Project and the U of U is moving forward with the feasibility study.
The next commission meeting will be held on Oct. 1 at 4 p.m.