|Jerry Jensen and Tom Bruno of the special service district discuss possible funding of county projects.|
During the county recreation and transportation special service district's April meeting, officials discussed and approved additional funding for several projects.
According to Carbon Commissioner Bill Krompel, the need for additional funds stemmed from a sizable inflation in construction and material costs statewide.
During the Utah Department of Transportation's last meeting, the county commissioner indicated that the state agency reported a 30.5 percent annual increase in construction costs over the last four years. The double-digit rate of inflation was attributed primarily to material and fuel costs.
"Unfortunately when a lot of these projects are budgeted, the actual construction phase is one to two years in the future and figuring for normal inflation rates was just not enough recently," stated Krompel.
Carbon government requested shortfall funding from the special service district to complete several projects, including asphalt installation at the county road department.
The road department project will include 8,519 tons of hot mix at $57.30 per ton installed by Nielson Construction.
The county also requested 3,710 tons of hot mix to complete a 300-stall parking lot, a northeast access road and a west road accessing the parking lot at the event center.
The cost for the project will register at $213,000 plus an additional $100,000 for the parking lot and service roads at the center.
The county also requested $150,000 in special service district funding to cover the overrun of the budget for the road maintenance shop along with up to $613,000 to furnish and equip the event center in order to make the facility operational.
County projects seeking additional funding
County road maintenance shop yard
Parking, furnishing and access roads at event center
Road maintenance shop storage sheds
Radio communications for road department
Two scrapers for county landfill and other projects
The special service district will operate in 2007 under a projected budget of $7 million. In 2003. The district operated with $3.3 million in revenues.
"I know that sounds like a lot of money," commented Krompel. "But we could do more with $3.3 million in '03 than we can do with $7 million in '07.
Funding continues to grow within the special service district, however, primarily due to Utah House Bill 134.
During the 1990s, Gov. Mike Leavitt and United States Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt negotiated a Utah-federal government trade concerning public lands annexed by the creation of the Grand Staircase Monument near Escalate.
When the public lands were encompassed by the national park, the state lost its ability to develop the mineral lease assets, explained the county commissioner
In order to make the situation right with the state, the lands were exchanged for federal parcels located primarily within Carbon and Emery counties.
A significant portion of the public lands in question were rich in natural gas as well a coal, continued Krompel.
For example, at the time of the land exchange, it was estimated that there were more than one trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves in the area known as the Drunkards Wash south of Price.
Leavitt assured the counties involved that making the areas state lands would insure fair mineral lease payments.
But as the years played out, the Carbon commissioner indicated that it became apparent that Leavitt's assurance was not the case.
Citing Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration documentation, Krompel estimated that Carbon County would have seen an additional $1.4 million in annual mineral lease payments if the designated areas had remained federal lands.
"In 2005, we would have seen a $3.1 million payment on our mineral lease. But because they were state lands, the county was paid $1.7 million," said the Carbon commissioner
In addition, Krompel indicated that the influx of new money will be paid to the county until the mineral runs dry.
"This money is also very flexible," explained the county commissioner. "There are no strings attached to how it can be spent."
The shortfalls associated with some of the county projects caught the attention of many members serving on the special service district board.
"When we go to the CIB with these projects, we need to make sure that inflation, furnishings, parking and access are provided for in the initial application and projected budget," said special service district board member Pace Hansen.
There are several other projects for which the county is asking for additional funding.
The projects include the 2007 airport improvements, equipment storage sheds for the for the road maintenance shop, radio communications for the county road department and two new scrapers for the county landfill.
"We are on the verge of completing many projects that have been in the works for several years," stated Krompel. "And we don't want to commit to funding for new items until these projects are finished and operational."
"Once we determine what our budget is going to be, we will be able look at starting something new. We are committed to providing a continually improving atmosphere and environment for everyone in Carbon County," concluded the commissioner.