Sitterud explained the mineral lease monies in depth at the Emery County Commission meeting he said with all the people dipping into the fund it ended up around 13 percent the counties were receiving instead of the 40 percent. SITLA came in and said they became the special service district in the whole distribution process which enables the money to come directly into the county. The counties thought they were doing well when the legislature capped the fund at $3 million. The fund ran out of money. The legislature this year in committee fixed that problem and the SITLA checks were delivered which covered two quarters of 2007 and part of 2008.
Sitterud said the special service districts in the county have been suffering due to these funds being delayed. The commissioners discussed which percentage of funds the special service districts will receive. It was determined that 50 percent of the nearly $2 million will be split 50/50.
Fifty percent will go to the special service districts which will be split at their usual percentage rates by the treasurers office. The other 50 percent will remain in the general fund and will go to pay down the debt still owed on the Emery County Justice Center.
Bevan Wilson spoke to the commission about mineral lease monies. He has been a board member on the Emery County Special Service District number one, which is the road district since 1989. He said Emery County has enjoyed these mineral lease monies and 11 authorized uses come attached to the funds. They can't just be spent on anything. The county receives mineral lease monies through two avenues from the federal government and from SITLA; the federal monies used to be 40 percent back to the county and 60 percent to the federal government but the government recently reduced the split to 38 percent for the counties.
Wilson encouraged the Emery County Commission to really track where these mineral lease monies go as they are distributed to the various entities. If in the future the county is audited they must prove the money was spent in accordance with all guidelines; the county should be prepared to prove where these monies go.
Wilson said the road district started with the improvements to the coal haul roads and from there to bus routes. They are now involved in the Moore cutoff road. "It's been a tremendous program and I'm grateful to it."
Shannon Hiatt spoke on behalf of the recreation district, he said that 50 percent funding would bring the recreation district back in line with their lowest level of funding which was in 2006. They appreciate any money they can receive because it's been a struggle to keep things going when the revenues stopped. Everything has just been on hold the last two months.
Darrel Leamaster from the Castle Valley Special Service District mentioned how dependent that district has become on the mineral lease monies. The money is used for chip seal projects which are completed each year in a different city in the county. This has become increasingly costly as the oil has risen so dramatically and the number of paved roads in the county has increased steadily each year. This year the road project is slated for Emery and Clawson.
"Anything you can do to help would be appreciated. We do depend on it," said Leamaster. He also encouraged the commission to keep close tabs on where it is being spent. "It's good to show it's being put to good beneficial use," said Leamaster.
Sitterud cautioned the special service districts that the mineral lease money has been going away and dropping and to be aware of that.