Elections are on the horizon. The Grand County Commission will see candidates tussle for the vote of a decreasing number of residents. The hustle and bustle within the Moab Valley is efficiently managed and operated by the City of Moab without the need to levy a property tax, and operational funds are driven by the taxable spending of our visitors. So why is there such a high operating cost for the county that works beyond the Moab City boundaries?

Over 90% of Grand County is federal land and we are at the mercy of the federal budget’s dollar allocation of our taxes to manage this massive portion of Utah. This is why, outside of Moab, there is very little that our county is truly responsible for in terms of governance.

Our Class 5 County designation means we are “extremely rural,” so why does the county seem to operate budget-wise like a much more populated place? “Bloated” could be an apt description of the business end of the county. Our total population of full-time residents is dwindling, so why the huge increase in costs? 

Consider the cost of supplying law enforcement for emergencies emanating from public lands that receive pitiful reimbursement for a hard cost paid for by our county. Or consider the massive 25% pay increase for government workers, on top of the cost of living increases already in their bank accounts. Our county attorney’s budget has grown in recent years even as the office’s battles with the state often fail, at our cost.

Another area is the sheer amount of effort, time, and cost spent trying to beat back on the heart of a capitalistic nation by suppressing the mechanisms that boost the economics of our area. Motorized vehicles for off-roading here drive a big portion of taxes received by the county.

Do you think our product of hospitality sells itself? Seems to be the belief of our current leadership. Millions of dollars allocated for marketing are unspent in the county’s bank account.

A radical way out of this mess would be for Moab City to annex, well, the entire portion of Spanish Valley. As a municipality, it would likely serve this economic portion of the valley far better than the county, plus the potential duplication with San Juan County would be reduced.

Yes, cities can annex land in another county. Green River is an excellent example.

Moab City fully knows where its fiscal bread is buttered, and I for one am thankful. I fully support maximizing our return from the consumption taxes expended in the world of hospitality endorsed by approval by the powers that be. These economic processes save the average Moab household thousands of dollars in property taxes each year, thanks to our visitors.

Some food for thought, which may cause a bit of indigestion, but will hopefully stimulate change for the better: more city and less county may be the elixir we could all use in our lives here in the desert.

Howard Trenholme

Moab