Castle Valley Comments
May 29, 2014
May 29, 2014 | 1462 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Despite his reluctant support of the proposed large tax increase during the Castle Valley Town Council meeting, John Lucas wears a shirt that might suggest otherwise. It reads: “If I Agreed With You, We’d Both Be Wrong!” He says the picture shows his best side. Photo by Ron Drake
Despite his reluctant support of the proposed large tax increase during the Castle Valley Town Council meeting, John Lucas wears a shirt that might suggest otherwise. It reads: “If I Agreed With You, We’d Both Be Wrong!” He says the picture shows his best side. Photo by Ron Drake
A small gathering of people attended the monthly meeting of the Castle Valley Town Council as council members held a public hearing on the amended budget for the fiscal year 2014. The council adopted the amended budget and approved a resolution to adopt the tentative 2015 budget. The current budget was amended because of the unexpected high equipment maintenance costs, and line items were adjusted to balance the budget. It was pointed out that some of the other line items ran under budget.

The proposed budget for 2015 and two years thereafter will include a property tax increase. In 2015, the increase will amount to $106.40 per $100,000 in assessed property value. That increase will be for two years and the third year will include an increase of $86.29 per $100,000 assessed value. These numbers are based on current assessed values, which are expected to hold relatively steady in the third year despite the reduction in raw land value due to new home construction.

Mayor Dave Erley read a prepared letter that outlined the need for the large property tax increase to pay for some ongoing expenses such as “setting aside funds for the repaving of Castle Valley Drive and some one-time expenses such as reconstruction of the Castle Valley Drive crossing of Castle Creek,” according to the statement.

“First of all,” he said during the meeting, “our equipment is failing. The front-loader is played out from too many years of service. The grader is not far behind. We had nearly $20,000 in over-budget maintenance. Most of the repairs require a mechanic from Salt Lake City or Grand Junction who travel on our dime. Only Wheeler Equipment, Caterpillar, has a local mechanic stationed in Moab, actually two for the Lisbon Valley Copper Mine. In researching the town’s realistic options, I contacted a number of county road departments in southern Utah, and a few towns. Over and over, I was told if you use a piece of equipment less than 500 hours per year, which we do, lease it. It is a no-brainer as you never own it and the maintenance is Wheeler’s responsibility. Thus, the costs are fixed and a budget is a realistic prediction of the year’s expenses.

“A backhoe-loader, to replace the front-loader with more versatility, is $14,500 per year. A road grader is $24,500 per year. This is $39,000 per year for our two most important pieces of equipment. It also means we will have good equipment that is operational instead of constantly needing repair. This is an ongoing increase to the road department’s budget but overall the only sustainable way for a town our size to maintain functional equipment. What really clued me in to the situation was when the Grand County road supervisor was quoted in the paper as saying it would take $80,000 per year to maintain the county’s new paved bike path system. Concrete trucks and semis [occasionally are] on our roads, which is a load the bike paths do not have to deal with. Our road department budget was around $51,000 this year before the maintenance overruns.”

Mayor Erley cited other ongoing expenses for the inevitable repaving of Castle Valley Drive by putting $5,000 a year aside, and an ongoing cost of $2,200 per year to sample the town’s water quality monitoring wells. They have tried to do the monitoring once a year but have budgeted money for it sporadically. The Utah Geological Survey has matched the expenditure but recommends that it be done in the spring and fall to better monitor the aquifer.

Even though the agenda item was simply a resolution to adopt the tentative budget, the council fielded questions and heard statements from the audience as though it were a public hearing. John Lucas said he reluctantly has to go along with the budget proposal, as he doesn’t see where the town has a choice to get out of the situation. But his concern is that “these things have a way of being permanent and don’t go away,” and he fears that they are taking the proposed Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund grant for a bridge over Castle Creek for granted.

Despite the fact that he supports the tax increase, Darr Hatch questioned what guarantee citizens have that the extra money will be utilized for what the tax increase is intended to be used for. He also questioned the cost of the maintenance. “They’re not telling us everything about the lease agreement,” he said.

Everyone else at the meeting also seemed to support the tax increase as it was explained. Council member Tory Hill moved to accept the proposed budget and the council selected Aug. 12 for a public hearing where residents can voice their opinion on the tax increase proposal.

It was also announced during the meeting that Castle Valley Road Manager Greg Halliday submitted his resignation as of May 31. He was commended for his diligent work during the past five years. The position will be posted and anyone interested is encouraged to contact the town.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.