Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for July 7, 2010
County adopts state-proposed tax rate
The Kane County Commission approved Utah proposed tax rates for 2010. The concept that when values go down, taxes remain the same and actually go higher, is difficult for the average taxpayer to understand when they get their tax notice. The commission felt the Utah proposed rate, rather than the state certified rate, is a fiscally responsible approach. The difference between the two is approximately $200,000 for the entire county.
Commissioner Mark Habbeshaw said, “We are still in a recovery period.”
Commissioner Doug Heaton told Dirk Clayson, “I appreciate what Dan and Mark have done. They are going to make us look good by leaving the county in a good stable financial position.”
By passing the Utah proposed tax rates, there is no need for a public hearing and the county is compliant with the Truth in Taxation legislation. Historically, the five-year average formula was added to the budget. HB23 changed the method of calculating tax rates this year. The county will no longer have “wiggle room” with uncollected property taxes. The state-proposed tax rate will mean a $15 average increase per $100,000 assessment.
Land Use Authority Director Gary Smith suggested an increase in variance fees. The current charge is $200. The cost to the county averages $950 for the appeal officer. There have been five variance appeals since the county hired an appeal officer. Kane County Attorney Jim Scarth suggested it would be a denial of due process and inappropriate to discourage a process with high fees, and that filing fees are part of the judicial system. They are not designed to recoup costs to the state. Smith will research other counties’ fees and report back.
Another issue generating lots of discussion was a proposed change regarding attendance at a land use hearing. As written now, the application states “individuals requesting a zone change must be present at the hearing, or a designated person.”
Incoming County Commissioner Dirk Clayson said, “I don’t think the applicant needs to be there – if there are questions, the meeting can be deferred until someone can be there to answer the question. Many times the applicant lives in another state.”
Smith said it is the premise to have someone there to answer questions and get the action taken one time, rather than defering to another meeting. It is a matter of efficiency, since they only meet once a month. If the board has questions and no one is there to answer, no action will be taken.
Habbeshaw told Smith he is exercising some authority that is not in his job description. Habbeshaw asked if there is case law to require attendance.
Commissioner Dan Hulet suggested, and there was a consensus, that at the bottom of the application, a statement should be added that reads “applicants are encouraged to be in attendance to make sure their interests are properly addressed at the Land Use Planning Committee meeting.”
A road in the Strawberry Subdivision has become a problem. It was not a road, but an easement, or trail between two subdivisions, and was never intended to be a road. The Water Conservancy District made a road when they put in the water line.
Commissioner Heaton said a property owner is distressed that it has become a thoroughfare, rather than an easement. It is platted as a right of way in the original plat, with a 20-foot wide easement. The road department will check with Sunrise Engineering’s survey. If the county needs to survey, they will.
Habbeshaw has reviewed the Legacy Easement application. His concerns were: There were many references to Sanpete and Washington counties, and St. George. There were no references to Kane County, no reference to encourage or promote agriculture, and no policy to utilize lands for multiple-use. The federal government would take over the water supply, and that would benefit Washington County. Habbeshaw said it is demeaning to Kane County and development of private property.
Commissioner Heaton said, “It is his property, his choice.”
Habbeshaw replied that development is what we expect from the remaining 10% of private property in Kane County. He added that conservation should protect agriculture and wildlife.
The commission moved to not support the Utah Forest Legacy Program easement for Roland Esplin and Son Inc., and Roland Esplin and family, due to federal-based protection and absence of protection of agriculture and economy, as is currently drafted. Motion passed.
The commission approved a contract with Boss Engineering and Kane County/Alton Coal. The contract will clear up some communication issues on the road realignment. The contract gives Boss Engineering the right to act, and they are responsible to Kane County for realignment of road #3900.
Kane County approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Five County Association of Governments. The items agreed on dealt with: 1) State of Utah Emergency Food Network; 2) USDA funds which assist the Care and Share Pantry for eligible families; 3) The SHIIP program, Utah State Health Insurance Counseling Assistance Program and the SMP Program, Senior Medicare Program; 4) Utah Saves, a program that helps people develop habits to get out of debt; 5) VITA, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance; 6) Kane County Volunteer Center inventory transfer and rent support for equipment, furniture, fixtures, etc. and notification of property owner that Kane County is now responsible for the rent.
Johnnie Miller updated the commission on Utah County Insurance Pool (UCIP). Miller reported UCIP has cut their budget and restructured their programs for the past three years; therefore their operating cost and the cost to the county has actually gone down. He complimented the commission on their “attrition policy and no overtime” and said their efforts have paid off. He presented a return check of $8,025.83 to Kane County.