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RTSSD - Its name won't get any longer, but its responsibilities might

Sun Advocate associate editor

As things now stand, mineral lease money flowing into the county is a pie with only two slices - recreation and transportation. That could change this spring. The county commission wants to give more services a chance to get a cut of the pie.

The proposal is to expand the funding authority of the Recreation/Transportation Special Service District to include such services as garbage collection, fire protection, public safety 911 and dispatch service, the animal shelter and flood control. Geographically, the district will remain the same, including all the unincorporated areas of the county as they stood in 1988.

As Commissioner Jae Potter explained to the district board Monday, the intent of the measure is to give the county more flexibility in meeting public needs. "Should we lose major revenue from property tax, it would be a way to preserve services at existing levels," he said.

Commissioner Mike Milovich, an ex-officio member of the board, said that the district would not not have any operational involvement in the services. If a need should arise, the commission would request the funds from the district, and the board would have to decide whether or not to grant the request.

Milovich went on to explain that some expenses arise that the commission cannot control, such as 911 and public safety dispatch. The state sets the funding requirements for those services and the county and other entities who depend on them must pay their share.

Doug Rasmussen, the accountant from Smuin Rich and Marsing who provides audit advice to the board, said that it is not common for so many functions to be lumped into one district. Uintah and Grand counties, for example, have multiple districts. However, it is legal to do this, he said.

Also, the district does not intend to change its name despite the additional funding responsibilities. Milovich said the change would probably require another public hearing in addition to the one slated for March 7.

RTSSD, an independent body created to oversee the expenditure of funds received from federal mineral leases, has invested in such improvements as the Senior Center, Event Center, Fairgrounds construction, the Nine Mile Canyon Road and streamside enhancement on district-owned property near Scofield.

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