Carbon lawmakers handled a lengthy agenda at the county commission meeting May 1.
Major issues addressed by the county commissioners included an agreement with the department of state forestry and concerns raised by Carbonville residents about changes resulting from the pressurization of the Spring Glen Canal/Carbonville Ditch Company water.
"We are going to go back to having one fire warden for Emery and Carbon counties," pointed out Gary Cornell of the state forestry department. "By doing that, we will be able to provide longer term employment for the position."
The position of state fire warden in the area has traditionally been a seasonal job, yet required almost full time responsibilities. Carbon will share the cost of the warden under the agreement, $26,000 per year, as they have in the past, but that cost will not increase or decrease, because the time the warden puts in will be equal to what both did before.
"One of the things that has happened is that most of the counties in the state are now in on the program," commented Cornell.
"When we had that bad fire year in 1999, many of them were hit hard financially because they had to pay directly for wildfire suppression rather than relying on the fund we had set up," continued the forestry representative.
The issue of the closed fire season was also brought up at the county commission meeting.
"We are closing the season early this year because of the drought," explained Cornell. "Instead of it beginning June 1 it is starting May 6 and will run through Oct. 31. During that time, any burning people want to do on their property must be permitted through the fire warden."
The commissioners approved the agreement.
In another item of business, Steve Tanner and Kevin Axelgard, representing the Carbonville Ditch Company, brought a letter to the commission concerning the changes being made in the canal, in light of the piping and pressurization of the secondary water system in that area of the county.
The issue centers around a number of questions, the biggest of which is the situation of what happens to the right of way and the responsibility for that right of way with the installation of the pipeline.
In some places, the canal has been covered, in others it has not. Part of the problem is that for the years the canal has existed it has also been the main diversion for much of the runoff from the cliffs above Carbonville and it's accompanying canyon.
"We want to know if the county is going to accept responsibility for the liability for that right of way?" asked Tanner.
"The county cannot assume responsibility for this," said commission chairman Mike Milovich. "We have no ability to accept or reject it."
"The problem is that in the past the Spring Glen Canal Company didn't take responsibility for the upkeep and repair of the canal beyond Wanda Melo's property in Spring Glen," stated Tanner. "Now they are going to be taking care of the pipeline. Do they also have the responsibility for the runoff and other liabilities of the right of way?"
"It is solely the Spring Glen Canal Company's responsibility, since they are the ones that have changed the water situation," indicated Milovich.
In other business, the Carbon County Commission:
Opened an approved bids for a new vehicle for the planning and zoning department.
Bids included four from Community Motors - one for a Ford Escape for $21,746, one for a Ford Explorer for $26,649, one for Dodge Durango for $23,241 and another for a Jeep Cherokee for $25,843.
Bids from Mountain View Motors included one for a Chevrolet Tahoe for $34,132.85 and one for a Chevrolet Trailblazer for $27,433.23.
After county planning director Dave Levanger reviewed the specifications the department had submitted for the vehicle, the commission chose to accept the bid for the Durango.
The lawmakers accepted block grants for Coal Country Housing for $30,000 and the Carbon County Housing Authority for $70,000.
The money for the first will be used for the Colleen Quigley Women's Shelter and the other grant will be used to improve cart paths on housing property for those residents that are using personal cart transports.
Matt Rauhala approached the commission about the possibility of using some class D county roads as part of a trail system that he and others are developing in and outside of Wellington.
The trails, which would be used for ATVs, bicycles and horses, would utilize the roads and some other existing trails.
The commissioners expressed the county's interest in helping, but pointed out that the roadways are presently involved in the federal review of roads.
A resolution was passed by the commission that declared Carbon County a drought area.
While the fact of little water is no surprise to residents of the county, the costs of the present situation could be hurting the county for years.
"I think it is wise for us to pass such a resolution," said Commissioner Tom Matthews. "It will help when we ask for federal and state assistance."
Rex Sacco made a presentation to the commission about what the costs to agriculture in the area have been.
"In the past couple of years, the reduction in the production of agricultural products has dropped considerably because of the lack of water," he said. "For instance last year production was half of what it was the year before. There was about a half million dollar loss. As far as cattle production, there was a 30 percent loss last year. "
Sacco indicated that cattle loss represents about $3 million and that cattle loss numbers, where ranchers and farmers sell off animals directly affects the future even if the water situation improves because to replace lost stock takes a number of years.
The commission approved the resolution.
The commission turned down a request to grant an exemption of taxes for the Spanish Speaking Assembly of God. The church had apparently not filled out forms for exemption for those years, but has for subsequent years. However, the commission was advised they do not have the power to act retroactively on the matter.
Opened sealed bids for an articulated loader for the road department.
Bids submitted included one from DFG Livestock and Transportation for $32,000, one from Scott Machinery for $90,000 and one from A1 Sales and Rentals for $53,000.
The county lawmakers decided to have Ray Hanson, road supervisor, review the bids and advise the commission on which route to take.
The commission also looked at an item presented by Nancy Ferderber, county assessor, concerning the value of the ECDC property near East Carbon City.
"According to the contract the commission signed with ECDC in the beginning, the evaluation would always hold at $20 million dollars, regardless of what reassessment maintained the real value is. This year we have assessed it's value at $16,568,441," pointed out Ferderber.
The commission discussed the fact that the company had wanted a fixed rating years ago when ECDC officials signed the contract.
After discussing the matter, the county commissioners decided that Carbon government would continue to evaluate the landfill company's property according to the contract.