The Blanding Council had a lively discussion about wastewater impact fees at their September 24 meeting. Councilmember Logan Shumway expressed concern at the dramatic increase in the wastewater fee, which would go from a current rate around $200 to $1,450.
“I’m OK with raising them,” said Shumway. “I just think the rates are going up way too fast.”
Councilmember Logan Monson differed, saying, “I was all on board for the study, that’s why I’m all on board for the full amount. The study was worth something, so those amounts are okay to me.”
There had been no public comment on the issue at a public hearing held during a prior council meeting. The rates are for new connections to the water and wastewater systems.
City Manager Jeremy Redd expressed concern that not increasing the rates to the amount the study suggested would impede the ability to pursue grants and loans in the future.
Councilmember Cheryl Bowers also worried that if they didn’t adopt a higher amount, that they would be leaving future councilmembers will the burden of increasing rates even higher.
Shumway argued that residential impact fees should only increase by one hundred percent to make sure it “passes the eye test”. He made a motion to adopt an increase from $250 to $500 for the wastewater impact fee for a .75-inch residential connection. The study recommended a fee of $1,450.
Bowers is also willing to support a smaller increase than the study suggested, but motioned to adopt a higher amount of $750 per .75-inch connection. The motion died for lack of a second.
Bowers then seconded Shumway’s motion for an increase to $500. A vote was tabled to allow for the ordinance to be set up differently by city managers.
Councilmember KD Perkins (who was not in attendance at the meeting) would also be able to vote on the ordinance at the next meeting.
Talk then moved to the upcoming Dutch Oven Days from noon to 5 p.m. on October 5 at Central Park (51 West 200 South).
Economic Development Director Pratt Redd discussed the events and partners involved. Admission is free and includes a hayride, corn pit, straw maze, photo booth, and more.
On-stage performers have been coordinated for the event. Attendees only need to pay for their own food and pumpkins. Utah State University is partnering with the city to run the pumpkin patch.
The council also discussed several abandoned commercial properties in Blanding. Blight and weeds detract and devalue other businesses in the area. Councilmember Bowers had been approached by citizens asking if they can do more for beautification.
Bowers said, “I don’t like a lot of government interference, but it’s bringing down the rest of our businesses. We’re looking at what we can do as a council, if anything.”
City Manager Jeremy Redd explained the ordinances that are already in place and measures that have been effective in the past.
Redd gave the example of what happens when a property becomes a fire hazard. After being given notice by a city official, a letter is sent to the customer giving them ten days to comply.
If the hazard has not been taken care of in that time, a company licensed to do the work takes care of the hazard and the customer is billed for the work. Redd reports it has been successful in the past.
He said, “If you’re consistent with it, people realize you’re going to do it year after year and then they do it on their own.”
The council discussed the financial report, including expenses at the Wellness Center. City Finance Director Kim Palmer provided a graph comparing expenses with revenue since the Wellness Center opened.
Councilmembers expressed interest at a point where expenses exceeded revenue in the year 2016. Palmer and Redd explained that there were many repairs done that year, which can be difficult to anticipate.
Redd said, “It’s a very maintenance-intensive building. It just wears out.”
At that time, the city also hired a wellness center manager and promoted memberships, which decreased the amount of the city subsidy in subsequent years.
Redd said, “Financially, it’s in a really good spot. The community continues to support it and continues to vote to be taxed to support it.”
The council also heard from Community Development Director Bret Hosler, who addressed changes to the Legacy Trust Fund Bylaw. Currently, the trust fund allows distributions up to half of the interest earned. Changing the bylaws will allow for a separate, temporary fund which would allow donations to be used in full without becoming part of the permanent trust fund. Other changes to bylaws would allow residents belonging to the zip code to be a part of the trust board, instead of just those within city limits. The board is appointed by the Blanding City Mayor.
The council discussed a letter to Utah State University regarding the Arts and Events Center. A 20-year agreement between Blanding City, Edge of the Seaters, and USU will expire in early 2020 and ownership will transfer to USU. The hope is that the community will continue to partner with the university for use of this facility.
Another topic was whether the city council would like a joint work session with the county commission at the Arts and Events Center on October 1. Councilmembers expressed a desire to work with the county, but also wondered if they had enough relevant business together. The worry is that the city council would just be in attendance to discuss county issues.
A public hearing was held for the 2020 stormwater flood mitigation project. No public comment was made. The project cost is $1.589 million. The city is obtaining a loan from the Board of Water Resources for $1.359 million, is asking the Community Impact Board for a $125,000 grant, and will add $114,000 in city funds. The grant application is due October 1.