Commission expresses frustration with slow pace of progress on settlement of the Navajo Trust Fund
May 11, 2011 | 1821 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At the May 9 meeting of the San Juan County Commission, Commissioners expressed frustration with the slow pace of movement on the settlement of the Utah Navajo Trust Fund. The trust fund is funded by oil royalties from a handful of wells in San Juan County.

Commissioner Lyman explained that members of Congress from Arizona have been a roadblock to any progress on the settlement of the trust fund question.

Lyman said, “The feeling of the Navajo Nation is that we need to reach consensus, but the Navajo Nation has no historical connection with the trust fund. It was created by the State of Utah for the benefit of Utah Navajos.”

Commissioner Adams complained, “The Navajo Nation makes demands over a small portion of a few wells in Utah, when they get 100 percent of hundreds of wells in other areas.”

Commissioners wondered if area residents will file a lawsuit. Claims of mismanagement of the trust fund triggered the entire issue.

Comissioners agreed that Kenneth Maryboy should be the point man for the process, as he is a Navajo, a San Juan County Commissioner and a Navajo Nation Council delegate. Maryboy was not at the Commission meeting.

In other matters, the Commission verified that they completed an environmental assessment for a new county fairgrounds multi-purpose facility.

The verification will allow the county to move ahead with the development of architectural plans for the proposed facility.

Several years ago, Senator Orrin Hatch secured $380,000 for the county to plan the project, which could include an indoor arena and convention facility at the fairgrounds.

The high end of preliminary estimates place an $8 million price tag on the project. The plans can be drawn up first, said Commissioner Adams, “and then we see if we can find the money to build the facility.”

Adams said the county hopes to “put our arms around as many needs as we can with one facility” and added that the project could include a Senior Center, indoor convention center and home for the Big Four Tractor Museum.

Commissioner Phil Lyman said, “I need to know more about the project. I’m not a big fan of expanding facilities. We are in a different situation than we were a few years ago. I want to know more before we hire an architect.”

Commissioners also:

• discussed a light pole at the fairgrounds that snapped during a recent wind storm. The county will test the remaining poles at the fairgrounds and may need to replace them.

• expects to complete the funding package and begin work soon on Phase 3B of the Lisbon Valley road. Work on the final leg of the project, Phase 4, could begin soon afterward.

Completion of the final two legs of the multi-year project will result in newly paved road along the entire stretch of road leading through Lisbon Valley.

Commissioner Adams praised the previously completed phases of the project and highlighted the work on Three Step Hill. Adams said, “It is unbelievable what they were able to do on Three Step.”

• approved an updated personnel policy manual for the roughly 150 employees of San Juan County. The policy was previously updated in 2008.

Commissioner Bruce Adams said, “Sending the manual to every employee and expecting them to read it is like reading a Sears catalog. It is just not going to happen.”

Human Resource Director Walter Bird explained that there will be a training meeting to inform employees of changes in policy.

Bird added that the new policies are more compliant with employment law.

• approved three new building permits for projects in Spanish Valley.

• approved a letter to the U.S. Forest Service in support of a project proposed by Kimmerle Mining LLC.

• discussed pending federal legislation that would reauthorize $600,000 a year for the next six years for the county to maintain roads used for school bus routes on the Navajo Reservation.

• discussed the project to pave the road from Monument Valley High School toward Oljato will begin soon.

• stated that the State of Utah is working with the Navajo Nation in a project that could result in the cross-deputization of law enforcement officials on the Navajo Reservation.

The Utah State Insurance Plan is involved in the negotiations.

Commissioners explained that the hope is to avoid a situation that occurred on the Ute Reservation in the Uintah Basin wherein the Ute tribe stopped cooperation with adjoining law enforcement agencies.
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