Two public hearings were held at the Nov. 16 Emery County board of commissioners meeting. The first hearing was to gather public input on the collection of the transient room tax by the county. The state tax commission is currently collecting the tax, by the county collecting the tax it will save the 1.5 percent collection fee from the state. Commissioner Ira Hatch said no written comments had been received concerning the tax collection.
The tax can be collected on a monthly or quarterly basis and the county is opting to collect it quarterly. The new collection policy will become effective on Jan. 1, 2005 and the first collection will be for the first quarter ending March 31, 2005. The county has requested a vendor list from the state and also from the Utah Association of Counties, with the addresses of all the businesses from whom the taxes will be collected.
The county feels it will be less expensive to collect their own tax and also they will not have to hire any additional people to take care of the collection. The commission thinks it will be more personable to collect the fees themselves as well. If a vendor's account should be in arrears then the county representative can meet with them to work out the tax collection and stay on top of things before it becomes a problem. The TRT is assessed for a room rented and is a 3 percent tax. The city of Green River also collects a 1 percent tax for all rooms rented in Green River.
One audience member wondered if there are any safeguards in the system in regards to knowing the number of rooms rented each night and expected taxes. Commissioner Hatch said there isn't a process although they could check a vendor's records against the money sent to the county and check for any discrepancies that way. Grand County has been collecting their own TRT for years and it was reported that it has worked out well for them.
Green River Mayor Glen Dale Johnson said he doesn't think the county will save much money by collecting it themselves, but he likes the idea of being in personal contact with the vendors.
The public hearing was closed and the commission voted in favor of the county collecting their own TRT taxes.
The next public hearing was about the increase in county building permit fees to the 1997 uniform building code fees. Alan Thorpe explained the reasons behind the need for an increase in fees. Most public comment taken centered around why the steep increases were needed. The resolution to increase the building fees in the county was approved.
In other business, the commission approved the cooperative agreement between the county and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, Carbon County and the forest service for fire control. The county portion of the agreement is $4,800 per year.
County Treasurer, Steve Barton presented some properties for which the county needs to release the lien as all property taxes are paid in full. The list was approved by the commission. The commission also wrote off taxes owed by Sunrise Airlines to the county. The company went bankrupt while still owing $61,000 in taxes. County Attorney Dave Blackwell said there wasn't any hope of ever seeing the money and clearing it off the books is the best option.
Economic Development Director, Mike McCandless discussed the enterprise and industrial zones designation for the county. This designation allows companies income tax credits for the number of employees they employ and also offers other incentives to recruit new business and to help existing businesses to expand. The legislature has approved $150,000-$200,000 for this purpose. McCandless encourages local businesses to contact him to see how they might benefit from this designation.
The commission approved some tax adjustments for county residents who found mistakes on their tax bills due to changes in the land status or buildings upon the land.
A business license was approved for Paul Simmons of Lawrence for the business Extreme Automotive which specializes in parts and accessories for vehicles.
The commission approved the sheriff's office to purchase a new vehicle with grant money from Community Motors in Price.
The commission accepted a letter of resignation from Huntington Airport Manager, Rob Midgely. They will begin advertising for the position immediately. The commission also accepted a resolution to amend the personnel policy. A disclaimer will be placed at the front of the policy stating that the policy doesn't constitute a contract. The personnel policy will also be expanded to include more information on conduct as it pertains to sexual harassment and the steps to take to report it.
The road department is in need of a 3/4 time person and the OK to advertise to fill this position was given by the commission.
Commissioner Hatch reported that the bids were opened on the fuel system at the road department and the work is being completed. Hatch also attended a preconstruction meeting on the airport project. The paving and grading have been put on hold until better weather. The open house for the forest service was well attended and the forest service is taking comments on the forest management plan revision which came out in October. Comments will be taken until Dec. 21.
Hatch reported that they had attended the meetings in St. George for UAC and they were very informative. He thanked Dixie Swasey and Kris Bell for putting together the gift from the county for the raffle at the convention. Each county brings a gift. The Emery County gift included a planter basket and donations from various businesses in the county. Also a two night stay at the San Rafael Bed and Breakfast in Castle Dale, two rounds of golf at Millsite, two pro rodeo tickets and two lamb fry tickets; the winner of the gift was Lamont Smith and he will also be treated to a one night stay in Green River and golfing at the Green River golf course.
Commissioner Gary Kofford reported on some work that was recently completed at the public safety complex where asphalt and curb and gutter work was done. Landscaping work there will take place next spring. Kofford also attended a homeland security meeting in Salt Lake which was very informative. Reports were given on how the hurricanes were dealt with in Florida and also security at the Olympics. A recent homeland security grant enabled the sheriff's office to purchase a motorhome for a command center and it is currently being fitted with radios and other equipment needed for onsite search and rescue operations.
Commissioner Drew Sitterud reported that the rural summit will be held in Price next May and Senator Bennett's staff was recently in the county to ask for help in selecting topics for discussion at the breakout sessions. The boat ramp at Joe's Valley is completed and will make a good tubing hill after it snows and the lake freezes over reported Sitterud. The asphalt for the parking area will be done when the weather permits next spring.
Sitterud reported that the RAC subgroup met at the Wedge to discuss plans the BLM has for the area. The BLM has received a grant to protect the cactus onsite there. They propose to eliminate all dispersed camping close to the rim and other recommendations. Sitterud said they are battling on the dispersed camping there at the Wedge. More information will be made available as the project progresses.
Sitterud said the meth grant for $200,000 should be coming in soon. Sitterud also attended his first meeting as a member of the BLM RAC and said it was interesting. The next commission meeting is on Dec. 7 at 4 p.m.