Sevier County officials don't intend to call a referendum vote on a 49 percent county tax increase to meet the budget, according to County Attorney Don Brown, who describes the issues raised in a petition as "frivolous and wholly without merit."

Proponents of the referendum say they will pursue the matter further even though the county attorney says the petition is without merit and that he would request sanctions and attorney fees if further action is necessary.More than 1,100 signatures were obtained on petitions that were circulated by five county residents in a move headed by Al Ricksecker. He said he wanted to see the petition issue become a "test case" to legally determine whether residents had the right to call for a referendum vote, anticipating that it may be determined by the state's attorney general or Supreme Court.

In a letter to an attorney representing five people who initiated the petitions, Brown wrote, "It is the position of Sevier County that the petition does not comport with the statutes inasmuch as the petition requests a special election as opposed to the next regular election."

He also contended that an election, if authorized, would place the county's expenditures of monies and receipt of funds in jeopardy and that the county government could cease operating until an election is held. "The Constitution and Legislature have wisely prohibited such a possibility," Brown concluded.

Ricksecker contended in a letter to county clerk Steve Wall that the application for petition copies did not specify the submission of the measure to the voters at a special election. He referred to a Utah law that he said appears to solve that problem.

The county clerk previously refused to accept the petitions on the advice of the county attorney.