Following questioning from a resident opposed to the upcoming voted local levy, the Morgan County Council weighed in on issues that could affect future tax rates.
“Whatever the levy does, it is going to affect us as well,” Councilman Ned Mecham said.
That is why resident Brent Anderson requested to be on the council’s Tuesday agenda.
“I have tried to not get involved. It is getting harder to not get involved. This levy will affect businesses, people on fixed incomes. It will affect all of us,” said resident Brent Anderson. “Every time we turn around some entity with power wants to raise taxes because they have a shortfall. I don’t trust government. From everything I have seen on the voted leeway, I don’t trust it. I don’t buy it.”
“From what I can see, the school district blamed their problems on the County Council,” Anderson said. “I ask you to consider what you can do to help this county with our businesses and us as citizens to not pay more taxes. Do you have things in the works to alleviate the needs we have?”
“I have heard the district insinuate the county is not doing enough,” said Councilman Daryl Ballantyne. “But economic development is a big thing in our minds. There are things we do to spur economic development.”
One of those things is recently hiring an economic consulting firm, said Councilman Lyle Nelson.
“We are making some headway, but it is a slow process,” Nelson said. “We are making strides and going forward in a unified approach.”
“I don’t necessarily think it is the council’s fault the school district is in the position they are in,” Council Chairwoman Tina Kelley said. “I encourage them to assess as much as they can, and we are encouraging business as much as we can.”
Mecham said more Morgan residents should shop local.
“A lot have tried it in Morgan, and they just have not succeeded,” Mecham said. “We need to get people who live here to spend a little more here.”
Councilman Robert Kilmer agreed, saying, “People don’t spend their money here. They would rather drive down the canyon. Challenge them. Ask who shops in Morgan, who buys groceries in Morgan, who fills up in Morgan. As long as they continue driving down the canyon, people are going to stop coming here.”
The lack of infrastructure, as well as the inability to hook into the railroad that runs through the county, poses a problem to economic development, Councilman Logan Wilde said.
“The problems that are there for the county are multifaceted,” Wilde said. “But I applaud the economic sense here in the room.”
He encouraged residents interested in economic development to get involved in groups such as the Morgan Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We need outspoken people to say we need businesses,” Wilde said. “We need a direction.”
Anderson said the county does have ordinances that are “not very easy to work with,” but the county council said they are doing much to correct that.
“I know there is a negative image out there for business (that wants to come to Morgan),” Kelley said. “We are trying to correct that every day. It is growing pains.”
“We are trying to work with staff to make it easier for businesses to come here,” said Councilman Austin Turner. Turner said he would like to see more second homes, which are taxed at full market value, in the county.
Anderson said he appreciated the time the council gave him on the agenda.
“The citizens will work on our part. You work on your part,” Anderson said. “If the district does their part and is fiscally responsible, if we put our minds together, we can solve any problem.”