The Emery County Commissioners met in their regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 20 at the Sheriff's Office in Green River. Those present were Commissioners Randy Johnson, Ira Hatch and Drew Sitterud. Sheriff Lamar Guymon was also in attendance. A prayer was offered at the beginning of the meeting by JoAnn Behling, county treasurer. The pledge was lead by Dixie Swasey, county recorder.
It was mentioned that the board of equalization was held prior to the commission meeting. The first item on the agenda was the check edit list, additional claims, requisitions and dispositions. County Clerk Bruce Funk discussed the lists with the commissioners. Commissioner Hatch questioned the charge of a sympathy gift sent to the tax commission. Funk explained that someone had passed away and flowers were sent in sympathy. Commissioner Hatch jokingly said they really should look at any sympathy gifts to the tax commission.
Another charge questioned was hand held radios. Sheriff Guymon explained that these will be used within the jail complex facility itself for communication between officers. Also a charge on porta potty costs was questioned for the road department. Commissioner Hatch said they had purchased a porta potty for use on site during construction jobs and it was supposed to be drained at the county disposal facility to avoid pumping charges. Commissioner Hatch said he would look into this matter along with the uniform replacement program for mechanics and lubrication specialists at the road shop.
The next item of business was the ratification of the amendment to the economic adjustment strategy grant. Commissioner Hatch explained that it is an economic development program that was entered into a year ago and this was just to update and extend the contract. The item was ratified.
The next item on the agenda was the consideration and approval of the resolution adopting final tax rates for Emery County and Castle Valley Special Service District. Commissioner Johnson explained that a public hearing was held by Emery County and the CVSSD on the judgment levy to recoup taxes for the amount of the repayment to the centrally assessed properties in the amount of approximately $357,600. Having done this the county is now able to set the tax rate for the year in the amount of .004731 for the county and .002726 for the CVSSD. These rates will raise approximately $5 million in revenue for the county and $411,088 for the CVSSD. It was moved by Commissioner Hatch and seconded by Commissioner Sitterud to adopt the final tax rates.
The next item was the approval of the release of a lien. Commissioner Hatch explained that in 1983 some property was sold and transferred in Castle Dale and it had a lien attached to it by the county. Subsequent to that the wrong lot number was placed on the lien document. "The change has been made and the lien is satisfied and we recommend that the lien be released," he said.
The next item was the update on the Green River annexation. Commissioner Johnson said that County Attorney Dave Blackwell couldn't be at the meeting, but had sent a letter with some information. The Utah Supreme Court ratified all of the steps taken to meet the conditions of the law and ratified and confirmed each item in Emery County's favor on the annexation issue. On Aug. 6 this declaration was served to Deputy County Attorney Scott Barrett of Grand County. He had 10 days to file an objection and as of Aug. 20 no objection had been filed.
Judge Lyle Anderson should now issue an order any day to submit the results of the annexation vote to the lieutenant governor who will in turn submit the results to the governor. The annexation will become law on Jan. 1, 2003. Green River City Mayor Glen Johnson said their attorney Gerald Kinghorn said the citizens of the Grand County side of Green River City would officially become Emery County citizens on Jan. 1, 2003. The commissioners decided it would need to be looked into further to determine these things before the election in November.
The next item on the agenda was a discussion with Tom Burr, Green River City councilman. He said he had received a call from the Moab Travel Council and they want to start the dialogue process with Green River City on the transition process. They will meet on Aug. 27 at 11 a.m. at the museum in Green River with Green River City officials and the commissioners are invited, said Burr.
He said they now expect the transient room tax from the Green River area will be coming into Emery County. The question is whether Emery County wants to collect their own or have the state tax commission collect it. There is a savings if you collect your own and you need forms and specific legal information regarding how this collection takes place. Grand County collects their own transient room tax and saves money. Currently Emery County collects approximately $18,000 a year in transient room tax which goes to the Emery County Travel Council and also additional funds go into the travel council from the general fund. Emery County also helps with the funding of the Castle Country Information Center which is within the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum.
Commissioner Hatch said all money generated from the transient room tax is to be used in tourism and tourist related activities in promoting tourism in the county. The county can collect up to 3 percent in transient room tax. Green River City also collects 1 percent in transient room tax. The restaurant tax was also discussed and Emery County doesn't currently have such a tax. It was also mentioned if the monument did go then Green River would be a base for this because of their established tourist related businesses.
The travel bureau creates their own bylaws which are then approved by the commission. The bureau also sets a budget for their administrative needs. Commissioner Hatch pointed out that if additional money comes into the budget from the transient room tax then what they would like to do is look into using it for museum operation in Green River and in Castle Dale. Commissioner Hatch also said that they will know more what to plan on after the annexation is finalized.
Mayor Johnson also pointed out that Green River City subsidizes the museum. The 1 percent tax that Green River collects goes to the museum as well. It was also pointed out that the Grand County Travel Council which is set up in the John Wesley Powell River Museum pays the museum a yearly fee of $2,000 to be there.
Mayor Johnson also let the commission know that Green River City is still receiving bills from the attorney on the Green River Annexation. Commissioner Hatch said that was good to know because they begin their budgeting in September and like to know up front on additional items which might need to be budgeted for.
Clerk Funk said Emery County should really look at collecting their own transient room tax. He said that when Grand County had the tax commission collect their tax they didn't get all they were entitled to. Commissioner Hatch agreed that collecting your own saves money because the tax commission takes a percentage for administrative expenses.
Under the citizen concerns category, Christine Monroe spoke to the commission. She said she is the director of the community center and they are in need of a new building for their community center. She had an architectural rendition of the proposed building which is all on one level. She said a building of this type would beautify Green River and be a real benefit to the community.
Currently she said they have 40-50 people per day using the current community center. The new building would have a large room for recreation, class rooms for education and mental health activities. The current building is being donated and originally was for two years and they are requesting a third year.
The new building would also house a senior citizens facility. The College of Eastern Utah and the Utah State University would offer educational opportunities for Green River citizens in the building. The center currently offers cooking classes, lifeskill classes and support groups. They have a reading group and have held a summer reading program for youth 14 and younger throughout the summer which involved 20-40 youth.
Monroe said, "Green River has 600 hotel rooms but no place to hold a conference. We would like to have two conference rooms and if the seniors would donate their facility for the conference then there would be three rooms. We would also like to have a stage, currently the high school is the only place in Green River where you can practice for any kind of a production. We would also like to have a pull down screen where we can show movies for the youth and a snack bar. We also would like to incorporate a four lane bowling alley because then you can run a league for the community. This bowling alley could also serve as a small revenue builder. We would also like to include a swimming pool and soccer programs.
"The estimated cost of the building is $2 million. Green River City currently has property available for the building to be located. We attended a HUD conference recently and they said there are rural development funds available. We would also like to go after some Community Impact Board funds and are looking for your support of the project," said Monroe.
Mayor Johnson said, "We beg Emery County to help us, the community center now is doing something with nothing and are doing a great job."
Commissioner Johnson said that they will keep their eyes on the project and look for ways to assist. The next item was the approval of the previous meeting's minutes. The next item was the commissioner's reports. Commissioner Sitterud reported that Jeff Guymon will be working over Labor Day weekend to get the server installed so the sheriff can begin to move in. The BLM workshop meetings will be held on Oct. 1 in Salt Lake at the University of Utah, on Oct. 2 in Price, Oct. 3 in Green River at the museum and on Oct. 4 in Castle Dale.
Mayor Johnson pointed out that the river bridge in Green River will be closed after Oct. 1 and to remind people to use the next exit into Green River.
Commissioner Hatch reported that they have met with Sevier County on the Quitchupah Road. They are still trying to work out access for livestock, but currently it is still in the air depending on which route is selected. The airport apron resurfacing has been completed and the UDOT aeronautical engineer inspected the project and said it looks really good. On the Moore Cutoff road the environmental report is being circulated for review. On the second to the last day for comments, SUWA submitted a five page protest. We met with the BLM and parties involved and also an environmental consultant and addressed the concerns that SUWA had. A report will come out in September. I'll meet with the joint highway committee and give them an update at their meeting and secure funding for this project.
Commissioner Johnson said he felt the announcement of the partnership of the BLM, state and the county was successful and people are looking at it a little differently now after this announcement. Commissioner Johnson also read excerpts from a Salt Lake Tribune editorial and one from the Deseret News which stated, "The proposed public input process is unprecedented in its scope at its attempt to include as many interested people as it conceivably can. If done correctly, the process will create a new BLM model for future federal land management decisions. Emery County officials and the BLM should be commended for their continuing effort to accommodate all comers. In a state in which environmental issues typically draw two responses, absolute protection or absolute access, the county and BLM have worked tirelessly to bring the extremes to a middle position by giving the majority of the people who fall between the poles a chance to weigh in."
The Deseret News said that few entities go out of their way to make sure that the public has an opinion and is encouraged by the process. Commissioner Johnson said it is profitable to bring as much information forth as possible. He mentioned the survey being conducted by Keith Allred to poll interest groups in the county, state and nation. Allred will also be on hand on Aug. 28 at the courthouse in Castle Dale from 7-9 p.m. to take input on survey questions.
The commission meeting was adjourned with the next regularly scheduled meeting to be held on Sept. 3 at 4 p.m.