The Roosevelt City Council will work with the Ute Indian Tribe to give the tribe what it wants - jurisdiction over its tribal members accused of committing misdemeanor crimes in Roosevelt.
In return the city anticipates the tribe will lift its year-old boycott of city businesses and work cooperatively with water development.City Council members voted 3-2 last week in favor of drafting a memorandum of understanding to be given to the Ute Tribe Business Committee. The letter will reportedly propose allowing tribal members charged with misdemeanor crimes the choice of having their cases heard in 6th District Court in Roosevelt or Ute Tribal Court in Fort Duchesne.
It will also address the lifting of the tribal boycott, a cooperative effort by the tribe and city to request a new sales tax distribution formula for Roosevelt and other items of mutual concern, said council member Mike Guinn.
"The City Council views this as a real step towards resolving these issues," he said.
It was Guinn who made the motion to prepare the memorandum.
Steve Yack seconded the motion. Roger Dart, who had voted last May against Roosevelt City relinquishing the authority to prosecute tribal members arrested for misdemeanors in the city, this time voted to proceed with the plan to work out an agreement on the misdemeanor prosecution. Dart declined to comment on the reasons for changing his vote.
Council members Sterling Rees and Beverly Hansen voted against the memorandum.
While the city has softened its stand on prosecuting the criminal misdemeanor cases involving tribal members, its intention is to "hold tight to the arresting authority," according to Guinn. The vote taken last week wasn't as "emotionally charged" as one held in May when the council voted 3-2 against relinquishing the criminal misdemeanor jurisdiction over tribal members, said Guinn.
"Our concern is to lift the boycott and return a tax base to our city," he stated.
The boycott by the tribal government is making an impact on tax revenue coming into city coffers. In September 1997, the Business Committee announced that all tribal contracts with Roosevelt businesses would be pulled after a federal court judge lifted an injunction that prohibited Roosevelt City from prosecuting tribal members charged with misdemeanor crimes and from charging tribal members sales tax. Figures released by the Utah State Tax Commission also show revenue down in Roosevelt when compared to last year, but up in Duchesne and Uintah counties and Vernal city.