Utah rural partnership panel accepts Carbon County input
The governor's rural partnership board visited Carbon County last Wednesday. The panel acts as an advisory board to the governor's office regarding issues that affect rural Utah.
On Nov. 2, the board appeared in the Carbon County commission chambers to hear specific input from commissioners.
Commissioner Michael Milovich indicated that one area in which much of rural Utah has been left behind is infrastructure necessary to attract new businesses and industries to the area.
Electrical power is one example.
Milovich pointed out that, despite the fact the Castle Valley is one of the primary electrical producers in the state, the availability power in the area is deficient.
Milovich explained that one industry was interested in expanding into the region and was unable to do so because it could not secure the quantity of power it needed.
He said data connections are lacking as well.
The commissioner pointed out that, when Utah built the existing infrastructure to supply Internet access to much of the state, the entire state funded the development.
However, much of rural Utah has not enjoyed the same benefits as the rest of the state.
Again, Milovich pointed out that a business that was interested in expanding into Carbon County was unable to do so because it required a certain speed and bandwidth which was unavailable in the area.
Representatives from the RPB explained that the governor's office of rural development, to which the RPB answers, has heard that message and there are people studying and working to develop solutions to the infrastructure deficiencies in rural Utah.
Commissioner Bill Krompel voiced concern regarding some of the industries that are developing in the region.
The natural gas industry that spends millions of dollars annually on pipe, wells and other equipment is purchasing supplies outside the region, pointed out the commissioner.
Krompel called that concept "added value."
He explained that, when an industry such as natural gas industry expands like it has into eastern Utah, local economies could benefit better if the supporting businesses were developed in the region as well.
The state should look closely at the severance tax structure, added Krompel.
Severance taxes are charged on all drilling and mining operations.
Based on the production levels of the wells or mines, the state imposes a tax that collects a percentage of the royalties of the product.
Krompel said the state should look closer at getting more of the tax money back into the communities that supply the infrastructure that supports the industries.
Finally, Milovich told the RPB that U.S. Highway 6 is dramatically underfunded.
The commissioner pointed out that the improvements to the highway keep getting pushed back.
There are temporary measures that the state could implement to help alleviate the risk of traveling through Spanish Fork and Price canyons, noted Milovich.
One of the measures is increased law enforcement, an area that Milovich said has not been adequately increased.
"It's a determent to businesses coming into the area," said the commissioner.
Businesses that are considering expanding or developing into an area take transportation into consideration, said Milovich. And some businesses that want to expand into the area do not.
Addressing an unrelated matter, the commission reviewed a contract to be signed between the county and Thorup Brothers Construction for building the North Springs Shooting and Recreation Area near Wattis.
Attorneys found that the contract referenced certain documents that were not included with the contract. The contractor agreed to supply the documents for review before the contract is signed.
However, a larger obstacle to the contract was the fact that the contract gave a final amount for the costs of phase one of the project that went well above the $2.5 million the county has to spend on the project. Purchase of land and preliminary costs have reduced that amount to a figure closer to $2 million.
Milovich suggested that the county request supplemental funding form the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board. Funding for the project originally came from the CIB. Milovich said that rather than scaling the project back they could consider asking for additional help from the county's recreation and transportation special service district.