The Carbon County Commissioners responded to an invitation to attend a private Facebook streaming event during their Wednesday evening meeting. This invitation came from the Carbon County Property Tax Initiative and, upon invitation, the commissioners spoke with the attorneys.
The commissioners are not allowed to appear as a quorum at a closed meeting unless it is specifically allowed under Utah code. Simply responding to questions can constitute a meeting under the Open and Public Meeting Act. Therefore, attendance by the commissioners would violate the code.
Commission Chair Larry Jensen stated that they responded that they would not be able to appear and, in conjunction, feel that it is important to inform citizens about their efforts.
The Facebook group is not an open group that anyone may link into and view; those that are interested must be permitted into the group and those running it are also able to block individuals out. The commissioners assured that they are not trying to avoid answering questions. They are willing and available to answer questions if any are interested to speak individually or set up a larger meeting.
Commissioner Tony Martines remarked that there are a lot of things that the commissioners do that cannot be answered with just one question. All were also reminded that general information is public and may be accessed on the county’s website.
Commissioner Casey Hopes stated that since the tax increase, they are not increasing the number of employees or services. The increase worked to maintain what is current and the county still works to continue to cut where able or needed. The community was also reminded that, by statute, they are mandated certain things and have to perform certain functions.
With this said, Commissioner Jensen stated that the group in the initiative is aiming to repeal the tax increase that was approved in 2020. They filed paperwork with the county some time ago in an effort to get put on the ballot for a vote on repealing the tax or not. Commissioner Jensen said that, while there is a legal way for that to happen, the paperwork was not submitted correctly and was not accepted.
With this information in mind, the commissioners then announced that they are hosting a special meeting on March 11, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Commission Chambers, to answer submitted questions regarding the tax increase and the way that monies within the county are utilized.
It was stressed that this meeting will not be open for questions and they will only answer previously submitted questions. The commissioners will walk step-by-step through the tax increase. These questions may be submitted either by email, mail or phone.
Emails must be submitted to email@example.com and mailed questions should be addressed to Carbon County Commission, 751 East 100 North, in Price. Those that wish to leave a question for the commissioners by phone may do so by calling (435) 636-3226.
The commissioners then also spoke on the CARES act money, stating that a large sum was sent to Utah to be distributed amongst the counties. Each county and city were offered a proportionate amount of the money based on the population. Carbon County partnered with Helper City and pulled together a committee to figure out how to disburse the monies.
Applications were created and then submitted for screening. There were a lot of moving parts in regard to the money being distributed and it had to be spent by the end of the year.