Photo by Jeff Barrett
Oftentimes when the budget for either Carbon or Emery County is discussed, the Mineral Lease fund is brought into the conversation. While it is a budget that the community hears of frequently, it is not clear from the title alone what the funds are for, where they come from and exactly what in the county they benefit.
The Mineral Lease fund comes from the royalty money that is received off of federal leases such as coal, natural gas and, at times, oil. The amount goes to the State of Utah and then the counties receive a percent. Carbon County receives approximately 40% of the royalty money.
In 1989, the Carbon County Commissioners of the time formed a district to receive the money due to the county being unable to receive it directly. If the county received the funds directly, the county would then lose the ability to receive the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) money.
In the beginning, the Mineral Lease fund was a roads district. As years went on, the districts were allowed to serve more than one purpose. Since then, recreation, transportation, garbage control and a number of emergency services have been added. The monies that come from the Mineral Lease fund must be used for those purposes.
By State Federal Statute, the Mineral Lease budget is its own budget that is separate from the county budget. Linda Ballard of the Special Service District in Carbon County stated that the Mineral Lease fund has funded all types of different projects for different cities such as ball fields, concession stands, playground equipment, basketball courts and the like.
To receive monies from the Mineral Lease fund, the city must fill out an application requesting what the money would be used toward. Usually, it is a requirement that some money of their own is used on the project and that the city remains in charge of maintenance.
Kent Wilson gave a brief breakdown of where the Mineral Lease fund goes in Emery County. In 2017, roughly 1.2 million was received. In 2017 and 2018, 45% of the money went to a road district that funds the maintenance and creation of roads in the county. Also, 15% of the money benefit recreation while another 15% funded the Castle Valley Special Service District, which cares for the water, sewer and roads within the city limits.
Another 15% benefited the fire district, which helps to fund all of the equipment in each of the fire stations in Emery County. Also, 5% went to the North Emery water, who cares for culinary water as well as waters in Huntington, Lawrence, Cleveland and Elmo. Currently, 5% goes to the Local Building Authority (LBA) for the creation of building projects in the county.
However, Wilson stated that that will change. In a resolution projected to go forward in the coming weeks, the LBA will be taken out of the mix and the building monies will comes from the State Mineral Lease monies.