A public hearing was held at the Sept. 22 meeting of the Emery County Commission. This hearing was to receive input from the public on the issuance of $12.5 million in general obligation bonds by the Castle Valley Special Service District. The election will be held on Nov. 3.
Jacob Sharp, manager of the CVSSD attended the meeting to give background information on the bond election. He said the $12.5 million in bonds will be issued over the next 10 years to continue the master plan development for projects in the county. Bond elections are not new to the county and the last one was in 2001. The money from the bond will be used for curb and gutter projects, spring development, secondary and culinary water systems. "It's evident in each of the communities the benefits of the projects and we want to continue the process," said Sharp.
The ballot will contain two questions. One will be to extend the operation and maintenance tax at the same rate indefinitely. This tax is for all operating expenses and for the maintenance projects done in the cities on the roads. This tax will continue for the life of the district.
The language on the ballots will say notice of tax increase. Sharp is concerned with this wording, but said it has to be worded this way, because in all actuality if the current bonds are all retired and the current bond isn't approved then when all the bonds are retired there would be a reduction in taxes. But, along with that reduction all future projects would cease. Sharp said he has been attending the city council meetings to explain the bond election. The district also has placed an article in the paper and will continue to get information out about the bond election. A voter information pamphlet will be sent to all households within the district. The approval of the bond will not result in a tax increase but rather a tax extension. Sharp said the large industry base in the county allows the county residents to enjoy lower rates for water and sewer service, among the lowest in the state. So far, Sharp has been to Clawson, Cleveland and Elmo and will continue visiting the city councils.
Commissioner Gary Kofford said Darrel Leamaster retired on Sept. 11 and Jacob Sharp is now the district manager. He has been with the district since March. Kofford said the district has leveraged the bond money they have received in the past by obtaining grants and zero interest loans. Kofford said the district has let the cities take credit for projects, but it's the CVSSD that has pulled all the projects together for the benefit of the cities. "We appreciate the district," said Kofford.
The hearing was open for public comments. Phil Fauver wondered when the bonds if passed would be retired. It is expected the last of the bonds would be paid off in 2024.
Sharp said money is needed for replacement of old lines and old infrastructure in the county, some have been in place anywhere from 30-60 years.
Alex Buxton from Zions Bank said it's important to remember the bonds will be issued over the 10 year period. The bond election is just for the authorization to take out bonds. The debt service levy in the county will remain the same. Buxton said tax payers in the county have realized $1.3 million in savings because the district has been able to receive 0 percent interest on loans and grant money. Right now the district has a great relationship with the Community Impact Board. In October for three weeks, the notice of the bond election will run in the paper.
Fauver wondered how stable the CIB program is. Buxton said it is not likely the CIB will go away. It benefits from mineral lease money returned to the state by the federal government. At one time these funds could only be used in counties which were impacted by energy development. But, now the funds are being used more liberally and given to other counties, also. Should things become tight again, then those projects could cease and the money just used for energy impacted counties like Carbon, Emery, Uintah, etc.
Kofford said the CIB is a perpetual organization because those who have received loans are paying that money back which makes that money available for lending again.