It was standing room only in the commission chambers on Monday, August 13, as the room filled with the Tait family and friends in a follow-up on the previous meeting’s discussion regarding the sale of the Sugar Knoll land northeast of Mt. Carmel. This land is currently owned by State Trust Lands (SITLA). At issue is whether a road passing through the Tait Ranch and leading to Sugar Knoll belongs to the county or is a private road owned by the Taits.

Transportation/GIS Director Lou Pratt said he has been working to legally identify this and all county roads, and this particular road remains in question. Once a road is identified as owned by the county, it stays as a county road, regardless of public use or non-use. County Commission Chair Dirk Clayson said, “The county wants to keep public roads public, but we are more than willing to admit this road is definitely in question.”

Ron Torgerson, Deputy Assistant Director for SITLA, spoke to the plans for this land. A proposal has come forward for buying the Sugar Knoll land, and SITLA has a responsibility for selling land for state revenue. He said that because of its features and beauty, this property is “iconic.” Not having road access to it limits its value. The potential buyer is not identified, but if the land is sold, it will go up for public auction in the future.

A number of the Tait family and friends spoke to the history of the road in question, saying it was built many years ago by the Taits. One speaker, Cary Reese, said he grew up in Mt. Carmel and “rode horses on that road. The Taits built it with gates in the late 60s. They even put a picnic table at the top on the bench there.”

Other speakers wondered if SITLA could do a land trade in order to keep Sugar Knoll in public hands.

Representing the Taits, attorney Thad Seegmiller of Miley Wilson Edwards law firm, said the Tait family has affidavits that attest those roads don’t have free public access, although the family has been generous through the years to allow people to use them with permission. Seegmiller also said if it is decided the road belongs to the county, this will result in litigation. The Tait Family is open, with reservations, to the solution of the county putting in a new road and/or is willing to put in cattle guards to replace gates currently in use.

Clayson said, “the county would go through a court process if we need to,” but states he is not sure that will be necessary at this time.

The issue was left unsettled for now, as research continues into the true ownership of the road.

The next agenda item was to adopt Resolution R-2018-18. Sherrie Pandya, Kane County Hospital Administrator, said the hospital is planning an expansion and remodel. It has received a $10M bond through the Community Impact Board. This bond will be repaid using the 1% Rural Hospital Sales Tax revenues received through the county every year. The resolution asks for non-impairment, meaning that the county will not stop turning those revenues over to the hospital during the time they are needed to repay the bond. It was unanimously approved.

Land Use Authority Director Shannon McBride presented two items needing approval: a request to vacate parcels of land in the Paradise Hill Unimproved Subdivision to amend one lot to create two, and another to vacate public utility easements in Zion Mountain View Estates that have been moved and are now obsolete. Both passed unanimously.

Sheriff Tracy Glover got approval on a list of surplus items that the department wants to sell. Everything from cars and trucks to office furniture and equipment is on the list. The sale is tentatively scheduled for the week of Labor Day and will be done by auction. When the date is firm, notice will be posted.

Glover also sought approval to move $25,000 already in the budget to pay for a part-time school teacher at the jail. Kanab High School already employs this teacher half-time, so the other half-day would be at the jail, teaching not only GED courses, but other skills, such as for the building trades. Approval was unanimous.

IT Director Dave Owens next discussed plans for updating county employees’ insurance and 401K plans. This is done every few years to make sure the plans are the best available.

Last, County Budget Director John Livingston presented an amendment to the contract with Squire, an independent auditing firm employed to advise Kane County on best accounting practices, something common to all local governments. Squire is saying they have provided services above the original agreement and have come back for an additional $9,000.

County Clerk Karla Johnson asked, “A number of these services [listed by Squire as over and above] are a standard part of the regular audit, so why are they adding this on for additional fees?”

Livingston explained that the additional costs were because of delays caused by Kane County internal budgeting processes.

Clayson said, “Here’s what I think happened. We asked them to help the county do things in a better way than before. We used them to educate us on county processes, so they charged more. In the end, we came out with a lot better process.”

The cost increase was left unapproved and will be revisited when Squire representatives visit with county officers late next week.