The Cost of War

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Legal battles are draining the coffers of San Juan County, Utah. Does bankruptcy loom?

By Zak Podmore

© Four Corners Free Press

After six years of voting-rights litigation with the Navajo Nation, Utah’s San Juan County could be pushed to the brink of bankruptcy in the near future.

According to the state auditor’s office, at the beginning of 2016 the county had over $9 million in general-fund reserves. Two years later, the fund had dropped to under $5 million.

Over $3 million in outstanding legal costs from the Navajo Nation suit are likely to be assessed in 2018 or 2019. Meanwhile, the county, which has a 30 percent poverty rate, is suing the federal government for title to a controversial right-of-way in Recapture Canyon, which could cost taxpayers tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.



Zak Podmore is a freelance journalist and editor of the Canyon Echo: A Journal of Southeastern Utah.

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