By Julie Johansen
During the Emery County Commission meeting on Nov. 1, Shannon Hiatt was approved to serve as the county’s interim travel and tourism director. He will receive additional compensation based upon the county policy “compensation of department heads managing two departments.”
Commissioner Kent Wilson also made additional recommended changes at the Emery County budget meeting the following day. He stated, “Tourism money needs to be used to mitigate tourism costs.” This is also mandated by state statue.
With this in mind, he recommended splitting the tourism revenue 50/50. This would include 50% going back into the tourism department to be used by the businesses creating the Transient Room Tax (TRT) revenues. Of this TRT revenue, 90% comes from Green River where nine of ten families depend on tourism for their livelihood. The other 50% would be used to hire a deputy law enforcement officer to patrol the desert.
Commissioner Wilson also proposed a road grader operator from Green River be hired to maintain the roads used by tourists. This would be for 30 days in the spring and 30 days in the fall. Continuing, all public land activities will be directed by Emery County Public Lands Director Jim Jennings.
It was noted that if revenues fall short, then these jobs would be terminated. County contributions to entities such as the aquatic center, golf course, museum and county fair could also come from these funds. A suggested budget for the distribution of these revenues was presented at the county budget meeting on Thursday, Nov. 10.
Additionally, new bylaws are being adopted for the tourism board, which will require that all plans and distributions from the tourism department be pre-approved by the commissioners along with a follow-up report at the end of the year. This is also mandated by state statue. The commissioners will be the advisory board but the day-by-day activities will be completed by the staff of the tourism department.