Uintah Fire District Stays; Three Special Service Districts Consolidated Into One
By Kristin Forbis, Sep 15, 2020
The Uintah Fire Special Service District remains intact following the City/County meeting held at the Uintah Conference Center on Monday afternoon. The meeting allowed time for the Directors of the Special Service Districts as well as Ballard, Naples, and Vernal City to offer their own ideas and input on how to manage the steep decline in mineral lease monies that fund the Districts. Naples City Manager Josh Bake and Vernal City Manager Quinn Bennion each presented a proposal on how the budget could be split up while keeping each of the Districts. Among the suggestions, it was stated that the Fire District should be a top priority and preserved. Suggestions for reductions were also offered. During the August 24th City/County meeting, the Commissioners had proposed abolishing the Fire District and returning to the way fire services were managed before the Fire District was formed. In the weeks since that meeting, there has been a strong community reaction opposed to abolishing the Fire District. After the Directors and Cities had their opportunity to present during Monday’s meeting, the time was then turned over to the Uintah County Commission. Commissioner Haslem outlined several of the options the Commission has considered including the idea of simply consolidating the Districts into one. Ultimately, Haslem made the motion that he said will be the least impactful for now. He made a motion to create one new Special Service District that will be over Recreation, Transportation, and Impact Mitigation. The Fire, Health, and Animal Districts would be left alone. Commissioner Stringer commented that he feels this is a compromise and that they are not going for the greatest dollar savings right off the bat but it is a good start. He also commented that if mineral lease funds continue to decline, other options will need to be considered. Stringer and Haslem both voted in favor of the motion. Commissioner Horrocks was not present. The motion passed.