Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for January 30, 2014
Amicus Brief and PILT funding face county commissioners
Whether or not to join the Amicus Brief in the appealed 10th Circuit Court case regarding state control of marriage was on the agenda and discussed.
During the public input section at the Kane County Commission meeting, Tom Carter, Doug DeWitz, Herb Alexander, Carolee Woods, Larry Irdman, and Tarie Haverman spoke in opposition to the county commissioners joining an Amicus Brief in the Appealed 10th Circuit Court case regarding state control of marriage.
Comments ranged from saying “no county taxes should be used. It shows shades of the Natural Family Resolution coming back to haunt. It is discriminatory. It is a federal function of fairness and equality for all and not a state issue. We should wait for the Supreme Court decision first before joining the Amicus Brief.”
The brief, to be drafted by a law professor at the university, will deal with state’s rights issue. Commissioner Doug Heaton explained it is a state’s rights issue to regulate public health and safety. Heaton said he understands from a public point of view and from a private point of view.
Commissioner Dirk Clayson understands discrimination. “I’ve experienced the pain.” Clayson continued, “I do not like to alienate people. I’ve received lots of input on both sides. This is not a county decision. It is the county’s responsibility to stay informed. We do issue marriage licenses. We need to see the brief before we take any action.”
In order to see the brief, the commission must first join the Amicus Brief. However, they do have the option not to support it once they see it. The vote was Clayson and Heaton aye, while Jim Matson abstained. Matson explained, “The issue will be hammered out in other places. It is not worth division at the local level.”
Rob Van Dyke said it is appropriate to address this. The issue is federal control over state control. The federal government should not control marriage.
Clerk/Auditor Karla Johnson got the information from Facebook on the court decision. The county needed access to the information from the state. Everyone has been treated with courtesy and respect in her office.
This year, the federal government did not fund PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes). This will have a dramatic impact on county budgets, Kane included. Johnson gave an analysis that PILT funding represents 24.2% of county taxes. Without PILT funding, it would take a 32 percent increase in property taxes to match that amount. Commissioners were quick to say there are no plans to raise property taxes. Ninety percent of Kane County is federal land, about 5 percent is state land and leaving only 5 percent that is taxed.
Commissioner Heaton said, “Thanks to budget conscious Commissioners Matson and Clayson, and Clerk/Auditor Johnson, Kane County is not in the financial crises that some other counties are experiencing.” Western states affected by PILT funding are working to get the funding added on the FARM Bill.
In other business, Christine Mock and Connie Kirk were appointed to the Church Wells SSD Board.
Craig Hansen gave an update on 2013 County Care and Share and Senior Citizen Centers. In 2013, they received 28.2 tons of food from the Food Bank, and 19.6 tons from the communities. Care and Share provided 52,000 meals and served 1600 households.
The Senior Centers have delivered 11,215 meals on wheels, and served 6,583 meals in house. Cooking meals in one center for Long Valley and Kanab has saved the county substantial money, is better quality, and allowed them to serve more people. Goals have been set for 2014. Hansen concluded, “We have a great staff.”
Matson updated the commission on the Five County Association of Governments meeting schedule for 2014. They have consolidated some of their meetings with South West Health, making it more economical and less travel for their members.
State House Bill 382 designated areas in the GSENM for grazing. The reasoning is grazing has historical and cultural impact. HB 382 designated most of the GSENM for grazing.
The commissioners approved signing Retirement Services IRS Form 8905 to review a volunteer deferred compensation plan. The county must sign to study the plan but are not obligated to join. They want to review which plan is best for county employees. The plan is similar to a 401K.
The commission approved Ordinance 2014-1 amendments to Chapter 16 and 21 of the Kane County Land Use Ordinance. The change dealt with perk tests and a 50-foot easement in Rural Unimproved Subdivisions. A perk test is required before a building permit is issued. Easements are for three or more lots and provide connectivity to adjacent property.
Commissioner Clayson gave the status of a new non-profit organization UAC/FIP, (Utah Association of Counties/ Foundation for Integrated Preservation). Clayson is Secretary of the new organization, which will provide services to UAC. The goal is preserving historical and current rights. Most of the issues are associated with land management issues, ex, roads, grazing, public access to trail heads, etc. Matson said, “Another level to expand overall understanding of the impact these have on citizens.”
Lou Pratt, GIS/Transportation, updated the Commission on the signing of county roads. Pratt reported “there are 35 roads on our data that are not on BLM maps or they are closed roads.” The county goal is to complete signing of county roads by July. Pratt said basically the roads fit into three categories. First are roads that both the county and BLM agree are open. Second are roads the county says are open and the BLM say are closed. The third category is roads the BLM agrees are open, but not in the RS2477 claim. Pratt and the commissioners agree so far they are finding a lot of common ground.
An addition to the commission tasks, Color Country 501C3 participation was added.