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Kane County Commission unanimously denies “Kanab 600” Willow Reserve PID

The Kane County Commission meeting on Wednesday, March 12, 2024 was sparsely attended by both the public and by county staff - the public audience numbered in the single digits, and multiple county officials were out sick with a winter’s-end cold. Commissioner Heaton, while not able to attend for that reason, did participate remotely by phone.

Left-to-right: Commissioners Meyeres and Kubeja holding Tony Wright’s honorary plaque, Byard Kershaw with his plaque. Photo by Ty Gant.

The meeting was relatively brief, with most of the agenda dedicated to informative items with comparatively few action items taken. The public meeting began with a canvas of the March 5 presidential primary presented by the county’s election manager Heather Narramore. The canvas included a report on the 218 returned ballots out of the 500 mailed to registered Kane County Democrats, which ultimately indicated President Biden as their majority choice. As the Republican Party ran a caucus internally, there were no results from that primary at the time.

Following Narramore’s report, Kevin Gunnel of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) presented a Payment In Lieu of Taxes for the DWR’s new location going into operation east of town. Said Gunnel of the payment, which amounted to $2.14, “I’m just happy because it gives me an excuse to come down to Kane County and speak with all of you.” Gunnel gave a report on the property, which is an inspection point for boats coming back from Lake Powell designed as a preventative measure to invasive aquatic species. Gunnel continued, “It’s going to cause a stir among the boating community because it’s going to be new, it’s going to be different. There’s going to be some frustration, but we’ll do our very best to be customer service oriented and help that process move as smoothly as possible … This, long term, is probably a much better interdiction [than the boat ramps on Powell]. Quagga mussels are a big threat to the state if they get into our waterways.” The DWR also coordinated with Sheriff Tracy Glover, as they have a new DWR officer coming to post in Kane County.

The next item on the agenda was recognition of longtime volunteer service by Tony Wright, Byard Kershaw, Ed Browning and Karen Alvey, all of whom have served on myriad volunteer boards, committees and commissions within the county for many years. Kershaw was in attendance, and Wright called in over video chat, and to these two the commission presented commemorative sandstone plaques honoring their service.

With a slight delay on representatives moving agenda item four to the end of the meeting, the commission moved to agenda item five, considering a Public Infrastructure District request by the Willow Reserve subdivision, called “Kanab 600” colloquially. Commissioner Patty Kubeja, gave a brief summary, describing a PID as allowing a developer “to collect a tax from a specific area, property or district, that gets passed onto the homeowner that buys it, that’s put in to put in the infrastructure.” Commissioner Celeste Meyeres continued, “It’s a type of funding mechanism for a developer not to have to pay up front for the cost of putting in roads, water treatment, stuff like that. One of the reasons I indicated I would not be favorable to a PID is to do with other mechanisms like PUD’s and CRA’s which … turned out to be much more complicated and much more of a hassle for not many tangible benefits.” Commissioner Heaton added, “Everyone knows there’s a housing issue in Utah …. There’s a big push at the state level to help alleviate some of the obstacles, some of the pain, for developers to get in and start developing housing … and it at a point it starts to feel like government meddling in the free market.” Commissioner Kubeja added concerns that even with the funding provided by a PID, there is “no guarantee that those savings will be passed on to the home owner.” After discussion, the application was unanimously denied.

The item to which most time in the meeting was devoted was a review of the legislative session which ended recently. The commissioners gave a summary of the session framed as negative bills halted by legislative efforts, and positive bills passed, from the perspective of Kane County.

Negative bills halted included: a bill facilitating road closures; an attempt to increase tourism taxes at the state level; a bill impacting taxation for the function of threeperson commissions; and a still-underway OSHA ruling, which according to Sheriff Glover would “decimate volunteer EMS.”

Some positive bills that passed or are likely to pass included: a new funding mechanism for housing called an Infrastructure Funding District, similar to a PID except the “Developer is the one responsible for paying off the loan,” per Meyeres; a rural film rebate; an extension of uses on the one percent hospital tax; progress with jail contracting refining contracting rates and making the process more efficient, for which Sheriff Glover credited Senator Owens; and an in-progress bill calling for collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other immigration offices which would enstate more communications with local authorities before taking action in a district.

With that review concluded, the commission was able to return to the delayed item, a request from Pat Guerrero representing the Kanab Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber, collaborating with Southwest Technical College, requested access to Rural County Grant Program funds for a schedule of local business and professional training programs and business conventions, as well as a request for funding for general Chamber operations. In a good-natured exchange, Commissioner Meyers said to Guerrero, “For our information, could you tell us how much you all are getting paid?” evidently knowing the answer beforehand, to which Guerrero responded, “We are getting paid nothing, Commissioner, we’re all volunteer.” Both requests were approved unanimously.

Commissioner Kubeja fielded the next agenda item, an update on the construction at the Kanab Active Living Center, saying of the project, “This will make the kitchen here in Kanab much more serviceable.” During construction, the center will continue to provide meals to seniors on a takeaway basis, rather than sit-down communal meals. However, there is a shuttle service in the works, which will take center attendees to and from the Valley location where community events will continue.

Following this item, the commission went into closed session pending imminent litigation, ending the public portion of the meeting.




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