Officials discuss Utah Senate oil, gas tax proposal
The East Carbon City Council met Tuesday and Jim Robertson appeared before the officials to present a letter from Commissioner Bill Krompel.
In the letter, Krompel explained that the Utah Association of Counties recently adopted a proposal to support pending legislation that would give 25 percent of a state severance tax to the counties where oil and gas are produced.
According to the letter, the State currently collects the severance tax monies, which in fiscal year 2005 amounted to $58 million, and puts them into the general fund.
The position of the association is that the counties, not the state, provide most of the infrastructure and services such as roads and maintenance for the energy producers.
Therefore, the impacted counties should be given a portion of the state oil and gas severance tax proceeds directly to help with the associated costs.
The UAC maintains that citizens in the impacted areas are being unfairly burdened while unaffected counties share fully in the severance tax monies generated.
Drafted by Sen. Beverly Evans, SB-63 would give oil and gas producing counties 25 percent of the state severance tax monies directly, a situation similar to the current Utah sales revenue redistribution.
In the letter, Krompel estimated that, based on 2005 rates, Carbon County would receive an additional $2 million in severance tax funding.
Robertson explained that what Krompel and the county commission wanted from East Carbon City was a letter supporting the proposed legislation.
Commissioners from energy-impacted counties will meet with state legislators to lobby for support of SB 63, and they are requesting that each municipality offer a formal letter of support.
The council passed a resolution to draft the letter of support as requested.
Addressing an unrelated matter of business, Robertson told the mayor and council that some of the apartments at the city housing authority complex are vacant.
Robertson said he was worried that East Carbon might lose funding for the subsidized housing units if the apartments remain vacant. He asked the council to help advertise the vacancies. The council agreed to do so.
Mayor Dale Andrews then talked about recent water problems at the housing authority complex. He explained that in August, the housing authority had petitioned for an adjustment of their water bill, which they thought was unreasonably high.
The adjustment was granted. But then the next water meter reading showed the same problem. Andrews said the problem was solved when the outside sprinkling system was shut off. He told Robertson that there was obviously a bad leak in the sprinkling system that would need to be repaired before next summer.
Andrews then read a draft of a resolution that would amend the city purchasing policy. The policy would require a purchase order for all city expenditures and a council member's signature for all expenditures over $25. All expenditures over $400 would require three competitive bids. After some discussion, the resolution was adopted unanimously.
The city council then canvassed the recent election and approved the results. The new city mayor, Orlando LaFontaine, will be sworn in on Jan. 3 at noon. The focus of the meeting then turned to council member reports.
Councilwoman Joyce Caviness reported to the council the ongoing efforts to remove oil contaminate dirt around city buildings.
Councilwoman Darlene Kuhns told the council that Terry Harrison had applied to be accepted as a member of the volunteer fire department and she presented his application for approval. Harrison was at the meeting and was introduced to those present. His application was unanimously approved.
The focus of the meeting then turned to Christmas lighting and the city's sub-for-Santa program. Kuhns asked the council for permission to use city property to erect a Christmas tree and holiday decorations. Her petition was approved. She then said that the city would designate Dec. 3 as a day to decorate the city Christmas tree.
Festivities will begin at 9:30 that morning.
Kuhns said the elementary school children will be making decorations and she asked that citizens donate what decorations they could spare. She explained that decorating the city tree is a fun day for the whole community and she urged citizens to support the event.
The council also allocated money to hold an annual community Christmas lighting contest to be judged by the senior citizens. First place will be a $100 prize, 2nd place a $75 prize, and 3rd place a $50 prize. The council also passed a resolution to give all city workers and firefighters a $25 gift certificate for Christmas and forgo an employee Christmas party to help fund the gift certificates.
As a final matter of business, Andrews read a letter of resignation from city building inspector Ron Prettyman, who is leaving the area. The council discussed the need, qualifications, and difficulties in acquiring the services of another building inspector. Officials will explore possibilities.
The next meeting of the East Carbon City Council is scheduled Dec. 6.