After attending the April Fools Day Carbon County Commission meeting I came away believing that the biggest fools in this county are the members of the Carbon County Tourism Tax Advisory Board. They are fools for believing that the commissioner's might respect all of the time they volunteer to research and evaluate applications for use of this tax money.
The advisory board requires each applicant to submit an application for each project, along with documentation of how the project meets the guidelines for funding. The commissioners are supposed to review each project, take the advisory board's recommendations into consideration, and approve or reject funding of the project.
During the county commission meeting, each requested project was introduced and discussed, and the commissioners generally approved or denied funding reliant upon the board's recommendations. That is, until Carbon County's application came up.
The advisory board made it very clear that they were uncomfortable with the fact that every applicant had been required to submit a separate application for each project but Carbon County had submitted one application with a variety of attached projects. The board felt that each of the county's projects should be evaluated separately but the county commissioners passed a blanket approval of their own application with all attached projects, totaling nearly $600,000.
One of the commissioners offered an excuse that the advisory board had not been established for months and the county was "under the gun" to get some of these projects under way. Never mind that the commissioners are the people who took such a long time establishing this new advisory board.
My concern about the procedures is twofold. First the commissioners' blanket approval of numerous county projects seems very similar to our government's earmark method of approving pet project funding. Second, the commissioners are setting a nasty precedent by circumventing their own approval process.
The commissioners are obviously the taxing authority in the county and have the authority to approve spending of tax money, but there are legal guidelines for projects this tax money can be spent on. It seems to me that we, the citizens of the county, would be better served if the commissioners would follow their own required procedures to get projects funded with this tax money.