Commission shows energy impact on economic tax base
As 2009 begins economic uncertainty and major budget cuts have many Carbon County residents concerned for the future. In response to the unclear nature of the county's economic status, Commissioner Bill Krompel drafted a public letter detailing certain facts about the local economy.
"In light of the state's economic downturn and a proposed $1billion budget reduction in state government expenditures, I am frequently asked the question: 'How is the Carbon County Government doing financially,' stated Krompel
To answer this ongoing inquiry, the commissioner detailed the Carbon's 23 year history of accumulated surplus or deficits in the in the county's two main funds: general and municipal services.
"I have listed our major sources of tax revenue and adopted audited bugdets of our major funds and highest departments," he explained.
Several noteworthy updates and observations listed in the letter include:
â¢The county's healthy undesignated surplus of approximately 7.35 million dollars at the end of 2007 was significantly reduced in December of 2008 when the commission adjusted and balanced the 2008 budget with $2 million from surplus. Also to balance the county's new 2009 adopted budget, about $1.5 million of additional surplus was used.
â¢Carbon County currently employs 170 full-time workers and 35 part-time personnel to provide local county government services. The county treasurer needs $870,000 a month to make payroll for wages and benefits. About 48 percent of the county budget goes to labor costs, local government's largest annual ongoing expenditure.
â¢Included in the letter is graphical evidence that mineral lease revenues from natural gas and coal sales are now Carbon County's largest single revenue source, followed by area property taxes.
The letter's graphics indicate that, through calculation, about 60 percent of all property taxes paid in Carbon County - totaling $21,389,162 in 2008 - came from the energy industry.
â¢The energy industry plays a very major and important role in Carbon County's economy and tax base, said Krompel.
The letter explains that most of the county's public infrastructure is financed by mineral lease revenues awarded to local governments in the form of grants and loans.
The Carbon School District received about $12,800,000 in property taxes for 2008.
Approximately 60 percent of the property taxes paid to local the local public school system came from the county's energy industry.
In addition Krompel noted that the tax stability trust fund grew from about $40,000 in 1986 to more than $1.894,015 at the end of 2007.
To further make his point, the Carbon commissioner listed the top 10 largest tax paying entities in Carbon County.
All 10 of the entities were related to the energy industry.
Conoco Phillilps topping the list at $4.73 million annually.
"I wrote this letter because I wanted to qualify, inform and heighten the awareness the energy industry provides to Carbon County," said Krompel.
While the county's funds remain strong, there is current legislation that has many energy producing county's worried about their ongoing revenue stream.
"I am concerned about the Red Rock Wilderness legislation," said Commissioner John Jones. "I believe in multiple use and I believe that decisions concerning county land should be made by county officials not people who don't live and have never been here. I don't want to see our mineral rights take a hit when our school systems are already being affected by state budget cuts.
The legislation has been introduced into the United States Congress for several years and would stop the development of 9.5 million aces of Utah's back country including area's in Carbon County.
As for the projects to be set forward in 2009, Krompel reported that the county would move forward with improvements along the north Carbonville Road with the help of Utah Permanent Community Impact Board monies.
The Carbon commission will also proceed with the construction of a new senior citizens center to be located near the Carbon County Event's Center, concluded Krompel.