County decides to evaluate conservancy district boundaries
|A map outlines the boundaries for the Carbon Water Conservancy District originally set up by a 1942 court decree, with only a couple of amendments. The red lines show the large division boundaries. The district's two small divisions are located in and around the city of Price. The boundaries will be followed for new appointments to the water conservancy districts board, unless the map is amended by the county commission.|
The county commission has decided to temporarily follow a 1942 court decree setting up geographical divisions for the Carbon water conservancy district board positions.
The 60 plus-year-old court order has not been followed in Carbon County for a long time.
"It appears the county followed the decree for years and, then somehow, got away from the boundaries that were established," said conservancy district member Richard Lee during a special board meeting last Tuesday. "Positions were then appointed kind of helter skelter."
While the boundaries outlined in the court order have not been observed in appointing board members for years, the trend has not been all bad.
Many of the water conservancy districts that were originally set up have changed significantly since the court degree.
For instance, thousands of residents used to live in division one. But the division's boundaries currently encompass only a few hundred people.
The question about how the water conservancy district should represent the county surfaced when a position came open due to the death of Lyle Bryner last year, a longtime member of the board.
With the vacancy, the water conservancy district board started to receive letters from interested citizens regarding the position.
At the same point, the question of what the boundaries are surfaced.
"In considering the filling of the Bryner vacancy, the district board and the commission have come to realize that none of the current trustees reside in the divisions which they represent," stated Lee in a letter to the Carbon commissioners on Tuesday.
As the water conservancy board reviews the court decision, the decree is "somewhat ambiguous as to whether the (trustees) are required to reside in the division they represent," noted Lee.
However, the board believes the intent of the original founders of the water conservancy district was that members should reside in the divisions they represent, added Lee. And that intent should be "honored to the extent practicable."
The letter asked the commission to work with the water conservancy district in reassigning current board members to represent the divisions in which they presently reside.
Lee also asked the county commissioners to assign a new member from division one to fill the vacancy created by Bryner's death on the water conservancy district board.
In addition, it was suggested that the new position be appointed only for the remainder of Bryner's original term in the office.
The term is scheduled to conclude at end of the year.
In a final summation, the board's letter to the commission asked Carbon lawmakers to decide if the county would like to change the way the boundaries were set up in 1942.
"We recommend that the commission and the district consider, in the relatively near future, the issue of whether a strict residency requirement for trustees continues to be appropriate or desirable in light of changed times and circumstances," stated the written correspondence from the water conservancy district.
At last Wednesday's county commission meeting, the Carbon officials appeared to agree with the majority of the comments included in the letter from the water conservancy district.
In addition, the commissioners voice several county government concerns regarding problems created by applying the old court order during modern times.
"I realize that there are only about 250 people now living in division one at the present time," stated Commissioner Bill Krompel. "But I have read through this plan a couple of times and like it."
"I know that it would over represent the residents now, but it does adhere to the original plan when there were a lot of coal camps in that area," added Krompel.
Attending the county commission meeting as the representative of the conservancy district, Lee pointed out that division one may have changed a great deal, but many of the others had remained the same.
One example included division five, which encompasses East Carbon City, Sunnyside and the majority of Wellington.
Appointing a member to serve the remainder of the vacant board term would be a good idea because "for now, we can go with the existing districts and, then at a later date, change it if we see the need," indicated Commissioner Mike Milovich.
"That certainly will give us some breathing room to address the representation problem," stated Krompel.
After the commission approved the change they also stated that a new advertisement for interested parties to apply for the division one position would be run in the next few days.