Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for August 5, 2009
Commissioners hold public meeting to restructure elected officials salaries
The Kane County Commissioners held a Public Meeting on July 27, 2009. Commissioners Mark Habbeshaw and Doug Heaton were present. Commissioner Daniel Hulet was out of town. Commissioner Habbeshaw conducted the meeting.
To utilize county office space to a better advantage, the offices of Assessor Linda Little will move to the County Assessor’s Building, 180 West 300 North in Kanab, formally known as the Administration Building or the old clinic. The Kane County Building Department now comes under the authority of the County Assessor, who is the elected official. This change increases Little’s workload and responsibilities.
Kane County Attorney James Scarth wanted to clarify “apparently there is no statute prohibiting a non-licensed building inspector to hold the title of Building Official.”
The commissioners went into a Public Hearing to restructure the elected officials salaries per workload. “A Public Hearing means a hearing at which members of the public are provided a reasonable opportunity to comment on the subject of the hearing.” Very few members of the public were present.
Lloyd Laycook, as a member of the public in attendance, did speak up complimenting Little’s efforts to help the public understand the two parts of the property tax system, valuation and taxation. He made a positive comment on the pamphlet created by Little, explaining what the assessor does. The pamphlet with this information can be picked up at the assessor’s office.
Heaton stated some elected officials wages are lower than their employees. Human Resource Director Rhonda Gant said since the position of building inspector secretary has been eliminated, the county will be saving those wages and that amount can be used towards the increase in salaries. A motion to increase the assessor’s salary by 25% annually was approved.
Kane County Clerk/Auditor Karla Johnson is another example of an elected official with duel responsibilities and workload. Johnson said this is the seventh Public Hearing where an increase to her salary has been voted down. Heaton explained it was all a part of timing. Habbeshaw said he would be in favor of entertaining a pay increase to the clerk/auditor at the next commission meeting and a study of the all the county’s elected officials salaries be proposed.
Public meeting regular agenda items: two resolutions were presented regarding the new Public Safety Facilities (the jail). The “resolutions” are a course of action determined or to be decided upon.
#1. Municipal Building Authority of Kane County Utah Resolution #MBA 09-03. “A resolution calling a Public Hearing and authorizing notice of intention to issue not more than $18,000,000 of lease revenue bonds for the Public Safety Facilities and related matters; fixing the maximum aggregate principal, maturity, interest rate, and discount at which bonds may be sold and related matters.”
#2. The Kane County Board of County Commissioners Resolution #2009-18. “A resolution approving the adoption by the Municipal Building Authority of Kane County, Utah of a parameters resolution authorizing notice of not more than $18,000,000 lease revenue bonds in multiple series for Public Safety Facilities and related matters.”
Alex Buxton Financial Advisor for the Municipal Building Authority explained the Community Impact Fund Board (CIB) has awarded Kane County a loan for $7.5 million towards building the Public Safety Facilities (the jail) at a 2-1/2% interest rate. Paying interest only for the first five years. Buxton stated Resolution #MBA 09-03 is the first of the two resolutions the county will need to adopt prior to it issuing bonds for the facilities. It authorizes putting a notice in the paper 10 days prior to the bond issue date of August 24, 2009.
Buxton also explained these are “outside” parameters, it doesn’t mean the county has to issue exactly what has been adopted at this meeting. The need to be flexible is important. This is all a part of the legal process, putting the notice of a bond issue in the paper triggers a 30-day contestability period.
Heaton and Habbeshaw voiced concerns about the maximum allowable rate reaching 8% and how that would effect the county’s decision.
Habbeshaw explained the MBA/Commission resolutions are in preparation for the Public Hearing on August 24 they (the commissioners) are not making any bond decisions today. Johnson explained the reason for the two resolutions is because of the lease revenue relationship between the MBA and the commission.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Tracy Glover explained Resolution #2009-18 and the relationship with the Municipal Building Authority. The MBA issues the bonds and they (the MBA) lease the jail to the county. Even the though the MBA and the county are the same people, they are the “trustees” of the MBA and the commission. Legal mechanisms prevail.
Glover stated the notice in the paper would be for the “Public Hearing” and the “Bonds To Be Issued.” It has to be published twice in the newspaper and once on the state website. Glover and Buxton informed the commission of the various financial options available. One is the ESBA Rural Development for Municipal Projects obtaining a direct loan at approximately 4.1% available for smaller counties. Another is the CIB’s Build America Bond. It is a part of the American Recovery and Investment Act that was adopted into law February 2009.
Heaton asked if there was a time frame for applying for these programs. Buxton said application should be made in 2009 or 2010. Bonds won’t close until all bids are in. Johnson and Buxton will explore all the bond options available.
Habbeshaw admitted the resolutions are rather confusing. His concern with the bond issues was the debt to the present and future taxpayers.
Decisions on the bond issues will not be made until the county has gone through the legal process. The resolutions were adopted.
Glover gave a progress report that the EMT hanger at the airport should be completed by next week. The construction of the other building is on schedule.
As part of the relocation process, the office of the Department of Motor Vehicles will move to the Assessor’s Building. The offices of County Commissioner, County Road Engineer, Council on Aging and Utah State University Cooperative Extension Service will occupy the vacated office space in the County Courthouse Building. The County Commissioner’s office and Land Use Authority offices will remain at their current location, in the Assessor’s Building.
Human Resource Director Rhonda Gant proposed an increase for Tina Johnson of the Senior Center from a Grade 6 to a Grade 7. Increase was approved.
Wallace Gibson and Ila Mae Swapp were approved as new board members to the Council on Aging. They will also be on the Five Counties Council.
Administrative: A County Roads Rights of Way issue in the name of Tom Stephens in the Swains Creek area of Cedar Mountain. Stephens was not in attendance. After having a phone conversation with Stephens, Heaton asked Bert Harris of the County Road Department and Lou Pratt the County Road Engineer for clarification on the county’s acceptance of the road in question. Pratt said it had never been a county road; it is a private road, but it had inadvertently been bladed several times.
Stephens requested to be put back on the county’s maintenance program. Pratt stated the road does not meet county standards therefore it cannot be accepted and maintained. Heaton said the Stephens were concerned about getting fire and ambulance equipment to their home due to road conditions. Habbeshaw added, the roads that were on the County Transportation System in the past, the county has no control over and reiterated, if the Stephens were able to bring the roads up to county standards as best they can and all the property owners sign a “Quit Claim Deed,” then the county would maintain them.
Administrative: Harris recommended an option to the estimated cost of $40,000 to pave the road to the Valley Landfill. UDOT has offered to give the county some road base material stockpiled by the Alton Turnoff. The county could haul it in, spread it and possibly chip seal it for an approximate cost of $4,000. The Special Service District is willing to act as a partner with the project. Representatives from UDOT informed Harris they are unable to fund a turning lane at this time.
A budget review will be on the agenda for each meeting, providing an opportunity for the commissioners to have an open discussion on budget issues. All officials are attempting to save money in their departments. Habbeshaw stated the desire to keep each commissioner and the public in the “loop.” He was in favor of keeping an open dialog with the public. Johnson reported the county is in process of “recovery”. The county is accruing interest on the $3,012,564.00 in the Capital Improvement Fund trust account.
Consent agenda: It was recommended the request for a business license for B & B Catering be removed from the consent agenda. The commissioners as a matter of record accepted the audits for Kane County, Church Wells, Western Kane County and East Zion Special Service Districts.
An administrative addition: legal issues and disputes with Garkane Energy Cooperative Inc. referring to the damage to Kane County Roads etc. in the Cedar Mountain Area. Scarth stated Kane County does not wish to go into further arbitration.
Habbeshaw discussed a letter the commission received about the Monument and BLM road issues. A special commission meeting was held in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 22, 2009, concerning the BLM, safety issues and signs. Habbeshaw stated the BLM is assuming responsibility. The county’s traffic control signs etc. were loaned to the BLM for 60 days. The BLM is in the process of purchasing their own signs and developing maps. The Monument has already posted signs “Four Wheel Drive Recommended Roads not maintained.”
The commissioners and Scarth discussed the road issues. Habbeshaw stated, “We do not have an obligation to perform maintenance activities on roads of which we do not own.”
There is a case pending.
The next Kane County Commission Public Meeting is scheduled for August 10, 2009.