28 December, 2012 (All day)
Despite rumors, the county is not likely to add a municipal services fund line item to its general fund any time soon.
“There is a double taxation issue that has come up,” County Attorney Jann Farris said. “I can’t say the city’s position for sure, but city households are being taxed more than those in unincorporated areas of the county. It comes down to the city feels they are being double-taxed for services” such as police and fire.
“It is a difficult issue and not one that readily gets clarified,” Morgan County Councilman Lyle Nelson said.
The Dec. 18 Morgan County Council agenda item was meant to explore the issue and educate council members about the possibilities, Councilman Robert Kilmer said.
At the council’s direction, Farris researched other rural counties in Utah and how they handle taxation of incorporated cities within their boundaries.
“Very few counties our size do municipal service funds,” Farris said. “It’s not usually cost effective for small counties. It is more than adding a line item to the ledger.”
Farris said the only county that is comparable to Morgan is Iron County.
In his research, Farris found that “municipal service funds” is “just a fancy name” for special service districts. He said he couldn’t find definitive differences between the two.
“I am not in favor of special service districts,” Kilmer said.
With or without a municipal service fund or special service district, Morgan City is obligated to provide some services to its residents, Farris said.
“It boils down to an incorporated city has the responsibility to provide public safety services,” Farris said.
If the city does not continue to enter into interlocal agreements with the county to provide such services, the county could be faced with a $100,000 shortfall, Council Chairwoman Tina Kelley said.
Kilmer said the county needs to come up with a better way to track how the county is spending the city’s money.
“It is not necessary to create a new system, but a line item so the city can see what they pay for,” he said.
In the last meeting of his term, Councilman Howard Hansen said the county should resolve these issues in the chance that another city may try to incorporate.
“There are going to be other cities that incorporate and they need to know what their costs are,” Hansen said.
The county council agreed to meet during a work session with the city council and its attorney to discuss the issue.
“The city and county should get together before we do anything too hastily,” Mecham said. “This could be resolved simply before doing something real drastic. Let’s get some dialogue to get this thing resolved.”
Kelley said the meeting would be to discuss the responsibilities of each entity.