County talks fire district annexation for Spanish Vallley

by David Boyle
News Director
Members of the San Juan County Commission discussed fire district annexation of Spanish Valley, discussed fire issues elsewhere in the county and approved an award to upgrade heating at the county building at their latest meeting
Members of the San Juan County Commission heard a report at their June 4 meeting on efforts to annex fire protection for parts of northern San Juan into the Moab Valley Fire Protection District.
County administrator Mack McDonald explained that each year the county has sent about $40,000 for coverage from the Moab Valley Fire District in northern San Juan County.
McDonald explained the fire district is able to assess a fee on properties within the annexed area in order to cover costs for the full-time fire department.
As a result the county is moving forward with a plan to annex a portion of San Juan County into the fire protection district so property’s can be assessed within the protection area.
McDonald explained the result would be similar to the annexation of portions of Spanish Valley into the Grand County School District.
Properties are assessed for the Grand County School District as San Juan County residents in the valley attend schools in Grand County.
McDonald added that the county tried to place a volunteer fire station in Spanish Valley similar to the ones operated in Monticello and Blanding.
However, the county heard from Spanish Valley residents that they’d rather not have a volunteer fire department as home insurance rates are higher in areas covered by a volunteer system rather than a full-time district.
County staff is working with the fire district on the annexation map.
A draft includes coverage in Spanish Valley, along the highway south to the community at Wilson Arch.
The coverage area does not include La Sal where a volunteer fire department operates.
Members of the commission expressed support for the annexation project, the county still needs to finalize the annexation map and go through other steps to finalize the change.
Commissioners and McDonald also discussed other fire needs in the county.
McDonald shared that the county had been approached by the Navajo Nation asking about taking over the operation of the fire departments in Monument Valley and Montezuma Creek currently overseen by the county.
McDonald explained the county leases property from the school district so they couldn’t full hand over the property, but they’d be interested in assisting with some county-owned assets, noting that the Navajo Nation also has assets in the county buildings.
“If they want to take over operations it makes sense for them to operate those, and hopefully they’ll get a better response from volunteers.”
The county also spoke about the future of firefighting throughout the county, particularly in Bluff. The town of Bluff could operate a volunteer department as is done in Monticello and Blanding. Another option would be to create a special service district to cover the area.
At the meeting members of the commission also approved a notice of award and intent to negotiate a contract with Redd Mechanical to upgrade the heating system at the county administration building in Monticello.
The project includes two options including replacing the building’s boiler with a new efficient model, and the second part to upgrade existing piping distribution system.
Members of the commission also approved an annual state task force grant received for 2025.
The grant awarded to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes & Drug Task Force was awarded to address illicit drug use and other crimes including through education, prevention treatment and research programs.
Commissioner also approved a budgeted Pharmacy Laboratory Freezer for San Juan Public Health.

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