County commission approves tentative budgets
Commissioners in attendance were Gary Kofford presiding, Commissioner Jeff Horrocks. Absent commissioner Laurie Pitchforth was excused as she was out of town at a meeting.
Two requisitions were presented to the commission by the clerk auditor Brenda Tuttle and the commission approved. A requisition from James Nielson, Emery County Weed and Mosquito Department for two foggers for $18,217 and a requisition from the county attorney's office for a document sequencer for $1,950.
The commission awarded Lee Jeffs the contract to remove Russian olive trees from Swinging Bridge to Fuller's Bottom. His bid of $8,000 was the bid selected. The contract will set forth what Lee Jeffs will do and will indemnify the county.
The commissioners considered and approved a building permit waiver for reroofing the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Huntington Home and for construction of a fuel tank bunker being built by the Emery County Road Department.
Kris Bell, county assessor, asked the commissioners for an adjustment of Greene Properties' property tax. This is a building behind Work Force Services. The buildings had to be separated on different parcels and the code was entered wrong, which changed the property tax. This error was only discovered when Greene Properties received the tax notice. The adjustment was approved.
Tuttle, clerk/auditor presented and approval was given for a tentative budget for Emery County and Castle Valley Special Service District for the year 2010. The county revenue is about the same as last year, the biggest difference is mineral lease money that has come in this year that we will be able to spend next year. That money is budgeted as it comes in instead of anticipating what the amount might be. "We will get a little bit from property tax increases but interest revenue is down significantly," said Tuttle.
Manager Jacob Sharp presented the Castle Valley Special Service District tentative budget for the year 2010. This budget covers three different funds: the capital projects fund, the debt service fund and the general fund for operation and maintenance. He said, "We have budgeted for anticipated revenue from bond issues and grants in the amount of $1.82 million which we have submitted to the Community Impact Board for consideration this year. We will find out if the CIB will approve that amount at their Nov. 5 meeting. Our interest income saw a significant drop, so we only budgeted $10,000. The 2009 budget was $64,000 and we expect to only realize about $12,000 this year. Expected expenditures are for roads, curb, gutters, culinary water, sewer and drainage improvements.
"The debt service fund is used to pay existing bonds. Under property taxes we have budgeted for a little more than $2 million to pay for the retirement of bonds and interest on bonds. You will notice it is higher than in years past. The next three years will be the three highest years in taxes. As compared to what we have been used to as far as our debt service tax.
"This is a result of the 2003 bond for the new sewer lagoons in Ferron. The bond calls for the last three payments to be balloon payments over the next three years. Taxes will be higher to pay off these existing bonds. To learn more read the proposed bond election brochure that has been mailed to each resident of Emery County.
"The general fund is used for operation and maintenance. Maintenance expenditures will be budgeted for more money in 2010 due to the 2009 under budgeting of crack seal projects and the maintenance of water treatment plants. Another item budgeted will be wages and benefits. The Special Service District Board voted not to give a cost of living increase to employees. That change has not yet been budgeted. Our health care provider has agreed to make some changes to the health care plan to reduce costs. This means we will be able to keep the health insurance we now have with little or no increase.
"Road maintenance and chip seal is our biggest project every summer. We plan to do half of Huntington this year. We hope to do that project for less than the $700,000 budgeted. We now have about $117,000 in our appropriated fund. If we can reduce some of our expenditures, we won't have to rely on that emergency fund and just rely on property taxes and our mineral lease revenue."said Sharp.
This tentative budget was approved in the Oct. 15 Special Service District board meeting.
The commission approved the tentative budget for Castle Valley Special Service District for the year 2010. Out of state travel was approved for Norman Vuksinck, Bill Downard and Robert Blackburn.
The personnel director Mary Huntington requested and received approval of a 3 percent longevity pay lump sum adjustment retroactive from January for Mitch Vetere, Bob Blackburn, Les Reece, Gayle Jensen, John Burdick, and Gerry Hatch and 1.5 percent for Deborah Williams.
Approval was given to utilize Emery Medical Center for the annual wellness clinic for county employees. The cost will be the same as last year with a range from $172-$177 based on gender and age. The wellness clinic on Nov. 4-5 has helped to keep insurance costs down. Approval was given to authorize an additional four hours of paid vacation to employees who participate in the wellness clinic.
Approval was given for a 3 percent pay increase for Morgan Bell who has successfully completed her six month orientation period. This will go into effect Nov 1. Approval was given to appoint Mary Huntington and alternate David Blackwell to represent Emery County at the UCIP, (general liability insurance coverage), annual meeting Dec. 3, 2009.
Approval was given to promote Robert Riley from corrections officer I to patrol deputy I after successful completion of POST. This means moving him from a grade 15 to grade 16. This will go into effect Nov. 1.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks attended the Castle Country Partners meeting in Moab Oct. 22 where most of the discussion was around TRT funds and why they were up or down in various counties. It was felt that the increased funds were coming from people traveling closer to home for vacations and not leaving the state as compared to the past. There were also discussions about the restaurant tax funding and where that money was being expended in different counties. The opinion by those in attendance was that the money was being spent where the statute requires.
Commissioner Horrocks attended a construction meeting at the Emery County Care Center. That project is moving along well. While grading for the road they found an old drainage system that came from the roof of the old building. The new building is looking nice and it will be great facility for the county.
Commissioner Gary Kofford reported he attended a pre-construction meeting with Nielson Construction on the Moore seven project. Nielson Construction started on that project Oct. 26. "We have some wetlands that we will have to do some mitigation on. The Army Corps of Engineers has given us a completion date of Oct. 31, which means that work has to be completed this week. We can ask for an extension, although Nielson's felt they could get through that project by Saturday.
"The signs are up and they anticipate doing most of the earth work this fall. The Goblin Valley phase II road using stimulus money is oiled about 2.2 miles. That asphalt is in place and it was completed Sunday afternoon. Nielsons have started and will complete phase III this fall. The special service district added a little portion to phase III for state parks. They are doing a spot by the gate for parking buses and cars.
"We held a meeting about Lila Canyon road and they have CIB approved money to make a $9 million project for the Lila Canyon road. Utah American Energy is in the process of refinancing and as soon as that is completed they will be ready to start the process on that road. Once they sign and we get the money from CIB, with bonds in place, we will advertise for bids on that road. We expect to start construction in the spring. We did put a couple of heaters in the airport hangar a week ago," said Commissioner Kofford.