San Juan County Commissioners abate taxes for Assessor-elect

San Juan County has abated more than $1,000 in property taxes for a local businessman who will become the new San Juan County Assessor on January 1. Shelby Seely approached San Juan County Commissioners Phil Lyman and Bruce Adams at their December 8 meeting, seeking a rebuttal of a recent decision by the Utah State Tax Commission.
The Tax Commission had set a property value after reviewing several properties owned by Seely.
Seely told the Commission that he was “okay with the decision made on his house, personal property, and laundry mat” but was not satisfied with the decision on the value of his car wash.
Seely argued that the valuations were not correct since they confused the values on two separate parcel numbers.
After reviewing the documentation and having a lengthy discussion, Commissioners approved a motion to “leave” the commission meeting and convene in the capacity of the Board of Equalization.
The Board of Equalization, made up of the San Juan County Commission, approved a motion to lower the valuation of the car wash property by nearly 50 percent, from $131,106 to $66,855.
The $131,106 valued had been set by the Utah State Tax Commission, while the $66,855 value was the prior property value.
Current Assessor Howard Randall told the Board of Equalization that he opposed the action. Randall said, “By you giving him an abatement, you are making the rest of the taxpayers pay more.”
Back in the commission meeting, commissioners abated the property tax on the car wash property in the amount of $1,006.24.
Seely will become the Assessor on January 1 after winning the November 4 general election. He defeated incumbent Randall with 55 percent of the vote, including winning the popular vote in 14 of the 20 precincts in San Juan County.
Seely ran partially on a platform that the tax structure was flawed. He had paid a bulky portion of his prior property tax bills in pennies.
Randall had completed a reassessment of commercial properties in the Blanding area in 2012, which resulted in significantly increased values for a number of properties.
Approximately 20 property values were appealed to the Utah State Tax Commission. Until the Commission action on December 8, the county had used the values set by the Tax Commission. Randall states that two or three of the property values are still being contested.
In other matters at their December 8 meeting, the commission appointed three county residents to the new public health board. Sue Morrell, Dorothy Padilla and Carla Sorrell will be joined by Commissioner Phil Lyman and Commissioner-elect Rebecca Benally until more board members can be appointed.
Commissioners plan to eventually create a seven-member board. This board will have their first meeting Friday at 10 a.m., in part to review any applications that have been received for the director of the new public health district.
Crystal Holt, of the county human resources office, will meet with the current local employees of the South East Utah District Health Department to transition them to San Juan County employees.
San Juan County will present two proposals to the Community Impact Board (CIB) this week. One is for a $5 million road project for the San Juan Transportation District. The other request is for a $50,000 of sewer and water needs for Spanish Valley. The commission reviewed both proposals and support them.
Nick Sandberg reports that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has put the Indian Creek ATV Trail environment assessment out for public comment until December 18, 2014.
Sandberg said that “included in this plan is a loop which is favorable to the county.” The northern portion of the existing trail can connect to the southern portion so ATVs do not need to travel down the highway to get from one to the other. Sandberg submitted a letter to the Commission which he could submit as public comment.
Greg Adams brought a preliminary plat of the Homestead Subdivision in Old La Sal. Adams said that he wanted to inform the Commission of the plans for the subdivision. He outlined the details that need to be taken care of before a final plat can be submitted for approval.
Beer license renewals were approved for Hatch Trading Post and the San Juan River Café.
Building permits were approved for the City of Monticello for a building at the airport, for a residence in Bluff, for a garage in Spanish Valley, for a log cabin at the Blue Mountain Guest Ranch and for a barn near Blanding.
(Writer Roma Young contributed to this story).

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