The Monticello City Council adopted Stage 1 Residential Water Rates for secondary water users this summer at their May 21 meeting. The council initially intended to use Stage 2 rates but made the change based on water accumulation and the rate the water level is rising.
The new rates, which are already in effect, are set at the lowest level under the city water shortage conservation rate structure designed in 2018. They are the same rates secondary water users saw in 2017. The city still encourages residents to “water wisely” and not abuse the more lenient rates.
During the council discussion of a preliminary city budget, City Manager Doug Wright reported the city hasn’t been properly accounting for some expenditures, such as insurance, in the past.
Payments that should have come from the city enterprise fund have been made from the general fund. He explained that funds will be properly allocated going forward.
Wright said the city will continue into 2020 with basically the same budget it has used in the past. The goal in developing the 2019-2020 budget is to minimize expenses and bring it more in line with city revenue.
“We budget conservatively,” Wright explained, “so we’d rather be adjusting budgets up because we have more money rather than trying to figure out how we’re going to pay for things when we don’t have the money.
“It has worked rather well for the last couple years, and hopefully that will continue,” he added.
The council adopted the 2019-2020 tentative budget and amendments, which will be finalized before the next council meeting.
In other matters, the council addressed a request that initiated several months ago from Deanne Randall that some of her property be subdivided to allow Wyatt and Loren Holyoak to build a home.
The Monticello Planning Commission voted against the subdivision proposal, but the city council voted in favor, as long as a postponement order is in place to cover any future cost to the city in managing the property.
Wright explained the issues with the property, specifically that it does not front a city street and it borders other land that is disconnected from the city.
Recently, Randall formally requested that the property be disconnected from the city. The Planning Commission approved the request by a majority vote.
Monticello Planning Commission Chairwoman Lee Bennett explained that although commission votes are usually unanimous, this one was not. She said the reason for the split is not that the commission wants to prevent anyone from building on the property, but that some members of the commission are concerned they are setting a poor precedent for the city.
“The message might be,” she explained, “that if you don’t like the city rules, just disconnect yourself and do what you want to do.”
She said the vote passed because the planning commission found no guidance in city ordinance that would allow them to refuse the disconnect.
Bennett said she is concerned that this was the second disconnect request the city has received in a short time. “If we keep disconnecting pieces of our town,” she said, “we run out of opportunities for developers, even if it’s just a one-lot development.”
Mayor Tim Young said he thinks the disconnection is a better option in this case than simply “skirting the rules” that are in place. He agreed the location is unique, and the landowners aren’t receiving any benefits from the city at this point.
Councilman George Rice pointed out that the Randall property has the potential for receiving city services at a reasonable cost, while the property associated with the other disconnect request was prohibitive in that aspect.
He reiterated concern about a poor precedent being set if the council continues to approve city disconnections.
Wright explained that much of the growth in Monticello is coming from the construction of single-family homes. He said current city ordinances are conducive to subdivision construction, not single-family homes and added that the city needs to look at ways to facilitate current growth.
The council ultimately followed the recommendation of the planning commission and approved the Randall disconnect request by a 3-2 vote.
In other business at the May 21 meeting, Doug Folsom, Loss Prevention Manager for the Utah Local Governments Trust, officially presented a Trust Accountability Program (TAP) award to the city.
Folsom said, “The key in that name is accountability. What we strive to do with the TAP award is help our members implement best practices to have safe operations and establish programs that create accountability throughout an organization from the frontline workers all the way up through the city council.
“We all play a role in making sure that we are operating in a safe way and that we are avoiding unnecessary risks, exposures, and liabilities,” he continued. He said part of the TAP program is to review accidents so they can be learned from and not repeated.
This is the fifth consecutive year Monticello has received the TAP award. Members that complete the program receive a cash reward. Folsom said Monticello received a $3,500 check.
He recognized City Manager Doug Wright and Public Works Director Nate Langston for being instrumental in making sure the TAP application is completed and filed on an annual basis.
“It’s not just about keeping insurance costs down,” Folsom said, “It’s lives. Over the 14 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had to deal with several claims where employees have been killed on the job. Usually they die because of a mistake that didn’t need to happen.