The Cache County Council has voted unanimously to pay the legal costs for petitioning 1st District Court to establish a water conservancy district.
Supporters of the district still must collect signatures of 5 percent of the owners of real property worth at least $10,000 from each incorporated area and 20 percent of such property owners in the unincorporated area.If the supporters succeed in gaining the required number of signatures, then for opponents to prevent the district from being formed, they would have to gather signatures of 20 percent of the eligible property owners in each incorporated area and the unincorporated area.
The action Tuesday night was requested by a water-development committee appointed by the council. Committee member Wallace Jibson said, "Hopefully, we will soon have the required number of signatures on petitions to begin this process."
The vote came after outgoing Logan Mayor Newell Daines told the council he could support a district that included the city if the County Council could be the controlling body, rather than an appointed board of directors.
A committee appointed by the mayor earlier completed a study that concluded Logan would not benefit from a conservancy district because the city has adequate water resources for future needs.
The Municipal Council did not take a position on whether the county should adopt a conservancy district, but it did say Logan would not benefit from the district.
County Attorney Gary McKean, asked by Daines to research the legality of the County Council serving as the board of directors, said, "There is no provision in the Water Conservancy Act that prohibits this, but conversely there is no provision specifically authorizing it, so I assume the council could wear both hats."
McKean said there would be some potential problems, because when a district is established, it becomes a political subdivision and its board would be independent of the council - even though its membership may be made up of the same people.
"The council would be reviewing the rate of tax levy certified by the board, the council would be setting a tax rate and the county also would be responsible for collecting the tax," he said.
"A district might enter into contracts with the county, and it is subject to certain rules of the county regarding construction and use of highways and these factors could create sources of conflict," he said.
Logan Mayor-Elect Russ Fjeldsted told the council he is a strong supporter of a water conservancy district because "the last few years we have seen a water shortage in parts of the county, and it's obvious to me the only way we can provide for future water needs is through this concept."
Fjeldsted said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, has promised to do everything possible to get the Water Conservancy Act revised to provide for an elected rather than appointed board of directors.