Commission talks tenative budget, $200k grant

by David Boyle
News Director
The San Juan County Commission got a look at the 2023 tentative budget, approved the receipt of a $200,000 grant and heard a request from the school district superintendent.
Members of the Commission reviewed the 2023 tentative budget on November 1.
County Clerk Lyman Duncan explained the annual process of making the budget began with budget hearings with county department heads in October.
After hearing from department heads, the county presented a tentative budget for 2023. The rough draft budget includes proposed revenue of $14.6 million with expenses around $16 million, with a $1.3 million deficit.
While a deficit is shown in the first presented version of the budget, Utah state code requires the county budget to be balanced when it is adopted.
McDonald explained the county is legally required to publish a tentative budget at their November 1 meeting. “This is kind of a shotgun blast out there with our budget to let you know where we’re at.”
McDonald explained additional information will make the budget picture more clear over the next two months, including the receipt of property tax revenue in November as well as slimming the budget.
The 2023 tentative budget for the county can be viewed at .
At the meeting, the commission also heard from San Juan School District Superintendent Ron Nielson. Nielson addressed the commission regarding the impacts of redistricting boundaries on the San Juan School Board.
In January, 2022 the commission finalized new boundaries for the San Juan School Board.
While the school district advocated for a map closer to what was previously in place, that map nor the map recommended by the county redistricting expert were not accepted.
The approved map, recommended by the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, placed four sitting board members in two districts.
State law ensures that elected officials on school boards can finish out their terms. As a result, two Blanding area board members will represent Montezuma Creek and the Monument Valley and Navajo Mountain area for two years. Elections for those seats will be held in 2024, but Nielson says that’s still quite a bit of time. He is concerned about how to communicate with community members.
“I’m very concerned about how to put out the right message. How to help our stakeholders and our parents understand. I think they’re going to look for their board member in their community and this is going to be a first where they’re going to be told ‘no your board member lives in Blanding.’ There could be language barriers and other cultural barriers.”
While the district is navigating and answering questions about the situation, Nielson says the one common question he receives that he cannot answer is why the maps were adopted.
“I don’t know if you’re going to address the why, why that map, but it may be helpful in helping our public better understand and be less confused about where we’re at and how we’re going to move forward.”
During the meeting, the commission also approved the receipt of $200,000 from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity.
County Economic Development and Visitor Services Director Elaine Gizler explained the funds will be used to promote economic growth in San Juan County with most of the funds, $170,000, going directly to businesses in the county.
Businesses will be able to fill out applications to apply for the funds, same as last year. The grants will be awarded by the county economic development board who will review all applications.
Gizler explained the funds have been used for a variety of economic projects in the county. Ranging from employee housing to buying more equipment, and even as small as new trash cans.
Commissioner Kenneth Maryboy asked how many Native American business owners are affiliating with the program.
Gizler reported that a Montezuma Creek outfitter did receive a grant last year but asked that the commissioners help in making sure to promote the program to increase its reach.

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