Green River Mayor Glen Dale Johnson came to commission meeting to request funds for Green River. Green River City is operating well into the red this year with the ongoing costs of keeping the information center at the John Wesley Powell Museum open. Grand County previously contributed significant funds towards the information center.
To date, Emery County has not stepped up to the plate and offered Green River any additional money for added expenses related to the Green River Annexation. Emery County is still providing the same services which it has in the past including, schools, contributions to the Green River Medical Center, police protection as well as other services.
The problem lies with the new expenses Green River is incurring as a result of the annexation. Promises were made prior to the annexation that Green River would be taken care of at least as well as they had been under Grand County's jurisdiction. The problem lies with the distribution of the transient room tax. This is a 4 percent tax, 3 percent being collected by the Utah State Tax Commission for Emery County and 1 percent being collected for Green River City.
Mayor Johnson passed out a copy of the previous Green River City meeting minutes, where Commissioner Ira Hatch had explained a few things to the council and citizens present. Hatch had recommended that the mayor come before the commission and request that the 2003 Emery County budget be reopened and the transient room tax be budgeted to the Emery County travel bureau.
Mayor Johnson requested funds to make it through the remainder of 2003 and a full budget appropriation in 2004's budget. Approximately $100,000 has been collected so far this year in TRT taxes.
The Emery County Travel Bureau is operated by Emery County. The TRT funds over and above what was budgeted to the travel bureau are currently being held in the general fund. The 2003 budget can be opened and the TRT money can be transferred to the Emery County Travel Bureau's budget. According to Emery County Clerk Bruce Funk, all of the TRT funds in the past have been transferred into the travel bureau. During the 2003 budget process and hearings it was not clear whether or not the TRT would be coming into Emery County and exactly how much it would be, so it was not budgeted for in the 2003 budget. With the signing of the annexation into law on Jan. 1, 2003, Emery County became eligible for the 3 percent TRT tax on the property on the Grand County side of Green River, hence the increased TRT funds for the county. Visitors to the area generate the TRT when they stay in a motel in the county.
The county commission approves and sets the travel bureau budget each year. It is the goal of the travel bureau to promote and develop tourism. There are three representatives from Green River and Norma Dean Hawkinson, from Green River is the chairman of the bureau. The travel bureau hasn't asked for the TRT money to be put into their budget.
The commission determined that the travel bureau should meet and discuss all of the issues involved with the TRT funds. Sheriff Lamar Guymon also sits on the travel bureau board, he suggested that they use county money to operate the museums and the information center and allow the travel bureau to use their income which comes from TRT to promote tourism. They would prefer to be left out of the operations part of things and concentrate on bringing tourists into the area.
The discussion on Green River's request for money was tabled until the next commission meeting. Mayor Johnson said the mosquito abatement team had done a great job in Green River. The Green River City Council denied a request for the county property in Green River to be charged at a residential rate instead of a commercial rate and Mayor Johnson urged the commission to keep on trying. Costs relating to water and sewer in Green River have gone up due to the new water treatment plant and new sewage treatment plant. Previously Green River City has been supplementing the enterprise funds and these funds such as water and sewer need to be self-sustaining by law.
Mayor Johnson also requested a report on the costs of services provided in Green River by the county. Mayor Johnson updated the commission on the Solitude Landfill reporting that they are meeting with Union Pacific on the right-of-way for the railroad spur to the property.