Washington County approves $ 165 million budget with compensation for search and rescue volunteers, buys Zion URL – St George News


ST. GEORGE – Washington County officials passed the proposed budget for next year that includes compensation for search and rescue volunteers and a pay rise for county employees.

In this file photo, Washington County Clerk / Auditor Susan Lewis shares a snapshot of the county’s 2022 budget proposal with the Washington County Commission, St. George, Utah November 16, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Washington County / CEC, St. George News

At a Washington County commission meeting on Tuesday afternoon, county clerk / auditor Susan Lewis briefed commissioners on additions to the 2022 budget since its initial presentation last month.

At that time, Lewis told St. George News that parts of the budget, estimated to be around $ 165 million in total, had yet to be finalized. This included the proposed salary increases.

Due to difficulties in recruiting new employees and retaining current employees, inflation and rising housing costs, the county proposed a wage increase of between 2% and 6% for its employees during the year. coming up, Lewis said.

Another item added to the budget was a fixed rate of compensation for volunteers on the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team.

“Depending on their calling and experience, volunteers will be paid between $ 50 and $ 100 for their calls,” Lewis said.

In this file photo, the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team responds to a call in Washington County, Utah, August 2019 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, St. George News

So far this year, the search and rescue team has responded to 148 calls, Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell Cashin told the committee. It was lower than 2020, which recorded a total of 174 calls, while remaining higher than 2019 and previous years.

The last item added to the budget was one-time funding to be used to help with emergency medical transport on National Route 18 over the coming year.

While Gold Cross Ambulance provided service on one segment of SR-18 with the rest covered by Enterprise, the Dammeron Valley Fire District is also in the process of supporting ambulance service in the region.

“Construction projects, grants, other tourism related projects are basically unchanged from what we presented in November,” Lewis said.

In other cases, the commission has approved a map of the newly redesigned electoral districts in the county that will be sent to the state for review. The precinct was to be redesigned to accommodate the revised Utah House and Senate districts approved by the legislature in November.

“Once that was accomplished, they sent us their cards and had to make sure our constituencies hit the right Senate and House districts,” Lewis said. “Sometimes their line would go through the middle of a quarter, so now we have to go our separate ways and have two quarters.”

In this file photo, Representative Walt Brooks, R-St. George, Reviews Redesigned Utah House and Senate Districts at Washington County Republican Party Central Committee Meeting, St. George, Utah November 30, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Some ridings also had to be divided due to their size, as they exceeded the limit of 1,250 voters per riding linked to overall growth in various parts of the county.

The county also bought the URL for ZionNationalPark.com for $ 200,000 from Zion National Park, LLC.

The URL has been around since the late 1980s, said Kevin Lewis, director of the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office.

“Due to the longevity of this URL, it has incredible value as a market channel and tool,” he said. “Zion National Park is in the county, and it fits our Grand Zion message very well, and we can have a site specific to Zion National Park.”

The website will be linked to Grand Sion website to show visitors what else to do in Washington County beyond the national park, said Kevin Lewis.

“I think it’s a good decision for us,” he said.

Commissioner Adam Snow said some might object to the price that comes with the URL, but due to its longevity, the strengths that come with it, and the national attraction of Zion National Park in general, it was worth it. worth it, he said.

“It’s a good buy,” Snow said.

Lewis noted that ZionNationalPark.com received the same number of visitors as Greater Zion, but without the marketing costs that were invested in the latter. All of the traffic ZionNationalPark.com received was organic, he said.

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