At their Dec. 7 meeting, Grand County Commissioners discussed the Bureau of Land Management’s travel plan revision for the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area. They also discussed redistricting boundaries, the Sand Flats Recreation Area, and the county budget.
Commissioners unanimously passed the “Contiguous neighborhoods” redistricting plan for county commission, school board, and voter participation districts in Grand County, with a few minor changes from the previous draft.
The plan was one of two finalists in a long process of public engagement and discussion. It creates five districts that are more contiguous and balanced in population than the existing districts. The commission must still establish voter precincts within the districts and reassign sitting commissioners to districts; those steps will be undertaken at the next commission meeting.
Sand Flats Recreation Area Director Andrea Brand gave a thorough report on the park’s 2020 operations. The recreation area is self-sustaining and serves about 200,000 visitors a year. The recreation area collected about $535,000 in fees in 2020 and anticipates collecting about $800,000 by the end of 2021.
In the near future, managers hope to obtain grant funding to pave a substantial section of the Sand Flats road and add bike lanes. Beginning in 2022, Sand Flats will also eliminate its day-use passes, instead offering only week-long passes for motorized and non-motorized users. The move will bring an anticipated $200,000 in revenue to Sand Flats while still keeping entry fees affordable, at $10 a week for vehicles and $5 a week for bicycles. Annual passes will remain at $25 and can be obtained through volunteer work.
Public Hearings and budgets
No comments were made during any of five public hearings, other than by applicants in the cases of hearings on developments. The first was on a High Density Housing Overlay application, proposing to add two units to the Desert Sol development on Spanish Valley Drive, and the next was on an Overnight Accommodations Overlay application for a proposed astronomy educational retreat called Sky Retreat in the Westwater area.
The other three public hearings dealt with county budgets. One was on amendments to the 2021 county budget, which include higher-than-expected revenues being distributed into county funds such as those for capital projects and stormwater projects. The budget was also adjusted to reflect the creation of the Economic Diversification Department. There were also no comments during the public hearing to approve the 2022 county budget, which projects no growth in sales tax revenue over 2021—Commission Administrator Chris Baird said he wants to keep projections conservative in consideration of the historic volatility of Moab’s economy.
The 2022 budget also includes a salary adjustment for all county employees, with a cost of about $1.8 million. A county-wide cost of living adjustment of 5.9% would cost an additional $657,000. The cost of living adjustment was the subject of the fifth public hearing. The 2022 General Fund is budgeted to have over $500,000 in leftover funds at the end of next year.
There was also a public hearing during the Thompson Springs Fire Special Service District meeting directly before the Grand County Commission meeting, on an amended 2021 budget and a 2022 budget for the district that included a salary increase for Fire Chief Mark Marcum as well as funding for new tires for the fire engine.
Votes on public hearing items will take place at future meetings.
The Grand County Commission meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 4 p.m. Meetings are streamed online at the Grand County Youtube channel. Schedules, agendas and opportunities for public comment can be found at www.grandcountyutah.net. Residents can email firstname.lastname@example.org to automatically reach each County Commission member, the commission administrator, the associate commission administrator, and the county attorney.