Increased valuation could mean small drop in tax rate
by David Boyle
Jun 15, 2011 | 1892 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tax rates for San Juan County property owners could drop in the next year, due in part to a $120 million increase in property valuations.

San Juan County Commissioners are set to finalize the tax rates this month, either at the June 20 or the June 27 Commission meetings.

Commissioners discussed the tax rate options at their June 13 meeting.

If Commissioners stayed at the certified tax rate, the increase in property values would increase total revenue to the county by $400,000.

The county tax bill for a $150,000 home would drop an estimated $3.

The county tax bill for the same home would drop an estimated $40 if Commissioners elected to be “revenue neutral”. This means that total property tax revenues would be the same as 2010 but spread over the larger tax base.

The increase in property values represents a 14 percent growth rate in one year. The $967 million in total valuation of the county is approaching $1 billion, a level not seen in 20 years.

Of the $120 million in growth, $107 million is in centrally assessed properties. Centrally assessed properties make up more than 60 percent of the total property value.

Among the centrally assessed property owners is Resolute Natural Resources, with an increase in valuation of more than $36 million. Patara Oil and Gas increased by nearly $30 million, Intrepid Potash increase by nearly $12 million, Denison Mines increased by more than $8 million and Utah Energy Corp increased by nearly $8 million.

Commissioners discussed the recent ruling in federal court against San Juan County claims on the Salt Creek Road in Canyonlands National Park.

Federal Judge Bruce Jenkins ruled on May 27 that Canyonlands National Park had the right to close vehicular traffic on the road.

The county will appeal the ruling, with the support of the State of Utah.

County IT Director John Fellmeth said that the county is looking for evidence of historic use of roads on federal land in the county. County residents are asked to provide documentation for use of any roads on BLM ground prior to 1976.

Fellmeth adds that the county will hire a number of temporary employees to assist in the process.

Commissioners approved a letter of support for a grant application that could help the county develop a new website with the capacity to provide foreign language translation. A grant from the Utah Office of Tourism could provide up to $18,000 in funding, with Commissioners agreeing that Transient Room Tax funds could match the state contribution.

County Visitor Services Director Charlie DeLorme explained that an estimated 70 percent of the visitation to southern San Juan County comes from the international community. He said the capacity to provide information in a variety of languages will increase the usefulness of the county website.

Commissioners approved $760 for Allison Yamamoto, from the Visitor Services office, to attend a Utah-Japanese Sales Mission in Los Angeles. Yamamoto speaks fluent Japanese. Delta Airlines has recently relaunched daily flights from Tokyo to Salt Lake City.

DeLorme has been appointed to serve on the Utah State Parks Board.

Commissioners approved building permits for three building at Westwater, one in Old La Sal and one in Bluff. In addition, they approved changes to the Woodland Ridge Subdivision in Old La Sal.

A large group representing the Utah Navajo Fair approached the Commissioners to discuss plans and budgets for the fair, which will be held September 14-18 in Bluff.

Davis Filfred, manager of the fair, explained that the group hopes to leverage the $35,000 contribution from San Juan County into a $100,000 budget. The goal is to raise funds from private and corporate contributions and sponsorships and $15,000 in ticket sales.

The county accounting system will need to be updated in the next year, according to County Clerk Norman Johnson. Estimated cost to replace the ten-year-old system is $16,000, spread over four years.

Commissioners approved a $14,000 match to $59,000 in funding for the state Social Services Block Grant. These grants fund senior center operations and San Juan Mental Health and Substance Abuse services.
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