I have been studying the Moab area and the influence of its leaders and residents on our own San Juan County leaders. Moab and Grand County leaders have really been cozy with our commissioners lately because they are wanting to have influence over them for their own selfish purposes.

Letter to the Editor originally published by San Juan Record

Ryan Benally

As a Native American resident of San Juan County, I have some serious concerns about how our commissioners have been handling Spanish Valley near Moab and its potential development.

I have been studying the Moab area and the influence of its leaders and residents on our own San Juan County leaders. Moab and Grand County leaders have really been cozy with our commissioners lately because they are wanting to have influence over them for their own selfish purposes.

The basis of my concern starts with the fact that Moab City residents don’t pay any property taxes. All of their city funding comes from commercial taxes and transient room tax (TRT Tax). I want to say that again, their resident homeowners don’t pay any property taxes. Because of this fact, it is apparent to me that the control of commercial development is their main priority. Moab City leaders and some of their residents understand this and they don’t want anything to interfere or interrupt with their cushy way of life or ideal economic structure. Essentially, they want all of the lucrative commercial development to stay or locate within Moab.

Preserving their tax base is why they are getting so heavily involved with San Juan County, its politics and the development of Spanish Valley. Frankly speaking, they are threatened by development in Spanish Valley, their lack of control over it and the probability that it might compete or interfered with their wealth and their way of life.

Clearly, Moab’s objectives are as follows:

  1. Keep all lucrative commercial development within Moab City limits.
  2. Even if it means through environmental activism, Moab wants control over all development near and around Moab including the San Juan portion of Spanish Valley, to ensure development patterns don’t change and move outside of Moab.
  3. Support the replacement of San Juan leaders with new leaders and board members that are friendly to Moab’s objectives.
  4. Moab City doesn’t want to take on residential housing because it doesn’t pay its own way. Especially, if they don’t currently tax individual residences within Moab City limits.
  5. However, in a worst case scenario and if all other control measures fail, they plan to annex all of Spanish Valley into Moab City limits to ensure development control and to preserve all wealth for themselves.

Just prior to the recent elections of our new commissioners, when Moab City was really frustrated with the future prospects of the development of the San Juan County portion of Spanish Valley, there was a Moab Sun News article dated July 19, 2018. In that article Mayor Dave Sakrison said, “Moab should explore annexing all land in Spanish Valley because it would give them control over what happens in that area.”

Annexing the San Juan portion of Spanish Valley into Moab would be a really bad thing for San Juan County. This is because we have a lot of very poor communities in San Juan County and we would lose the opportunity for any distribution of wealth via tax revenues. In other words, we couldn’t use any of those revenues in other parts of the county.

I find it very interesting, Moab City and Grand County recently passed a 6 month moratorium on commercial development within both of those two jurisdictions. Then after realizing their unintended consequences, that it might push commercial development into San Juan County, they somehow convince the San Juan County Commissioners to do the same thing. 

If the San Juan County commissioners truly want what is best for the poor areas of San Juan County then they will stop listening to Moab City leaders and start considering the development of Spanish Valley. That area of the county may be the future source of substantial tax revenues that can be used in other areas of San Juan County. The sad frustrating fact is there are a lot of impoverished areas within the county that desperately need these revenues.

My main concern is to protect the future of the most impoverished Native American communities and we need to stop protecting the Moab’s rich cushy way of life and start looking for every way to take care of our own communities.  

Ryan Benally is a Navajo tribal member and lifelong resident of San Juan County

 

 

 

 


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Comments

  1. And…Moab Locals don’t want Blanding/Monticello politics determining the future of our Grand County
    Water. Fair is fair.

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