The Grand County Council allocated mineral lease, mineral bonus and Property in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) monies at their meeting Wednesday, Nov. 6. (The council’s regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday was scheduled for Wednesday, due to Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 5.)
In the original proposal for allocations, the Grand County School District was denied any funding. However, council members chose to allocate 50 percent of PILT monies to the school district in their final vote of 6 to 1. Council chair Gene Ciarus voted no.
“I don’t feel like the county should be subsidizing the schools,” Ciarus said.
Ciarus said he preferred to give money to the county’s special service districts to be used for projects that could be matched with funding by the state’s Community Impact Board. He referred specifically to the trails maintenance discussion the council had during a special meeting held Tuesday, Oct. 29. In that meeting, it was estimated that trail maintenance could cost $80,000 per year over the next three years.
“We’re not taking full advantage of this tax-free money for our projects,” Ciarus said. “Last week we discussed the money for trail maintenance. If it doesn’t come from transportation or recreation (special service districts) then, we have to pull it from taxpayers.”
In 2012, the council allocated 33.3 percent of the PILT money to the school district, which totaled $86,677. If PILT monies remain stable, at the 50 percent allocation, the school district could receive up to $130,000 for their 2014-15 budget.
“We’re very pleased and appreciative of the council’s support of the schools,” said Scott Crane, the superintendent of Grand County High School. “It was very nice that they would support us at that level.”
PILT money is sent to counties as compensation for the reduction to the property tax base due to the presence of federally owned land.
“With the increase to 50 percent we have the opportunity to look at things we haven’t had for awhile,” Crane said. “We hope to fund programs that would help children be more successful in the classroom.”
Grand County receives federal money through the State of Utah for oil, gas and mineral leases on federal land within the county. In 2012 Grand County received a total of $1,574,527 that went toward funding special service districts. The county estimated that it will receive $2,242,238 by the end of 2013. These special service districts are: Canyonlands Health Care Service District, Grand County Transportation Special Service District, Grand County Solid Waste Special Service District, Grand County Recreation Special Service District.
In 2012 the county allocated additional mineral lease, PILT and bonus money to the health care district due to the financial crisis the Canyonlands Care Center was facing. According to last year estimates, the health care district would have received $515,000 during 2013. Instead, due to increases in oil and gas leases in Grand County, they have already received $1,126,068. They still have two more payments remaining to be received for the year.
The health district may provide 2013 seed money for the Moab Regional Hospital in order for the hospital to receive Medicaid Disproportionate Share Payments (DSH), federal monies that are given to hospitals that provide care to low-income patients. The hospital requested $240,000 in seed money from the county during Wednesday’s council meeting. In a 3 to 1 match, the hospital would be able to receive $720,000 from the state if the health care district provides the $240,000.
The health care district will be meeting Nov. 20 and may decide then whether to provide the seed money for the hospital.
The health care district’s allocations will remain the same, with the exception of 10 percent of the mineral bonus money. That will be given to the Solid Waste Special Service District, upon the suggestion of councilman Lynn Jackson.
“We each sit on our individual boards, but as a collective group we need to look at the county needs,” Jackson said. “The solid waste district needs to set aside money for the landfill closure.”
The Solid Waste Special Service District received no mineral lease, mineral bonus or PILT money last year; however, they did received funding through the Transient Room Tax for the first time.