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Low-Income Housing May Cost Emery County Big

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After Emery County may lose their $150,000 investment into the renovation project of the low-income housing units in Castle Dale and Ferron, the Commission was not inclined to approve a $2,300 tax abatement for the program on Tuesday.

“We are respectively requesting our taxes be waived. The Housing Authority Funds are limited,” said Emery County Housing Authority Executive Director, John Sehestedt.

He cited the limited funds stem from recent legislation that has restricted those who qualify to live in low-income housing. $2,365.58 was the requested tax abatement which was determined from the number of units in use for 2012. Sehestedt claimed that with less tenants qualifying to remain in the housing units they will not have the revenue to pay the requested taxes.

“It is not an uncommon practice for sponsoring entities (County Government) to waive taxes,” said Sehestedt.

With recent contributions and loans made to the Housing Authority, the Commission was not in favor of granting the program more than they already have.

“I know there is already a significant amount of money still owed to us by the Housing Authority,” said Commissioner Ethan Migliori. “There was also an unfavorable audit performed by HUD, and I am not willing to put the County at anymore risk. I would say no.”

“The County has already allocated $20,000 to be set aside for the Housing Authority,” Commissioner Jeff Horrocks said. “There is also $150,000 invested by the County for the Housing Unit renovations that we have not been able to recover, and may never recover from the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant Program).”

Horrocks explained the County provided the initial funding for the project under the agreement they would be repaid by the CDBG. All had gone according to plan until a dispute between the contractor and his employees put the funding into the hands of the Federal Labor Commission.

“During the time of the project an employee was fired by the company owner, and now they dispute as to whether that employee still needs to be paid. The dispute now rests on the shoulders of the Federal Labor Commission, and the County may be found liable,” said Horrocks. “ We are currently holding the $20,000 for the Housing Authority to see what the decision of the Labor Commission will be.”

Even with the labor dispute the renovations have been completed, upgrading the units with a new roof, siding and furnaces throughout; also new flooring, bathroom renovations, kitchens and countertops have been put into many of the units over an eight year В period.

“The housing units are postured very well for the next 30 years of service to the public for low-income individuals, families and disabled residents,” said Sehestedt.

Along with the updated units, the Housing Authority now has an active governing board for the first time in years. The Board has had many concerns and since made changes for the administration to abide by.

“Mr. Sehestedt is aware that if these changes are not made he may not be here, and the Board will no longer continue,” Horrocks said. “ We are all working very hard to try and make sure the units are properly maintained and operated, and the financial end properly run.”

“I will make a motion to table the tax abatement until such time as the CDBG labor dispute has been resolved,” said Commissioner J.R. Nelson. Migliori seconded the motion and all were in favor.

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Other notes from Tuesday’s Commission Meeting:

1. The DWR PILT payment was received in the amount of $2,751.30. Bill Bates said over 25% of Emery County residents purchased a hunting and fishing license in Emery County, which is how the PILT payment was made.

2. A 50% tax abatement for Garth and Ruth Barnett was approved.

3. The Law enforcement contract between the Forest Service and Emery County Sheriff’s Office stating the Sheriff’s Office will assist in fighting fires in the Manti La Sal National Forest was approved in the amount of $12,666. “ I would just like to point out how active our Sheriff’s Office was in the Seeley Fire,” said Commissioner Nelson.

4. In the previous Commission meeting the Western Counties Alliance approached the commission for sponsorship. After further discussion the Commission agreed to donate no more than $500 to the organization.

5. In community concerns the Museum of the San Rafael and the high submission fees was cited once again, Commissioner Migliori said it has been discussed and they the Museum board is working on an appropriate charging system.

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