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Bill to help Wellington City clears Utah House, Senate

Sun Advocate associate editor

A bill intended to give Wellington City's budget some breathing room sailed through both chambers of the Utah Legislature with almost no opposition. HB 42, introduced by Rep. Patrick Painter and Sen. Curtis Bramble, passed 68-3 in the House and 27-0 in the Senate.

The bill, which still has to be signed by the governor, would authorize the state's Permanent Community Impact Board to grant money to small cities that can show a significant loss in sales tax revenue from coal mining or mining-related businesses.

That is what happened to Wellington. When the legislature exempted certain mining equipment from sales tax back in 2008, the town's revenue plunged by about $180,000 a year. The city had to lay off some workers and had no money to make payments on a loan of slightly more than $1.1 million.

Mayor Ben Blackburn was pleased to hear the news Friday, but said there are two more hurdles to clear. First is the governor's signature. The second is getting the CIB to approve the maximum $1.1 million grant so the city can pay off most of the loan. "The legislation just gives the CIB the authority to do it," Blackburn explained.

If approved, the grant will do nothing for other city services. Having the bond removed, however, will remove the risk of default.

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