“If people… have issues with us, when the time comes for a vote, the votes will probably show it,” said Councilman Scott Shakespeare at the November 10 meeting of the Monticello City Council.
The statement came after Councilman Brad Randall suggested an attendance policy for the governing body. A City Council meeting in October was canceled because of a lack of quorum.
“Everybody has reasons for missing meetings,” said Randall, “I think we can tie something to it for a motivation factor for all of us.”
Nothing in city ordinance sets an attendance policy for members of the governing body, but Randall suggested that attendance is required in the bylaws of city committees, and the council should be the same.
Councilman Walter Bird pointed out a “fundamental difference” between committees and council: one is appointed and the other elected by the mandate of the people. He said that nothing in state law requires attendance.
Randall and Councilman Jeremy Hoggard suggested a more strict policy of attendance for elected officials than for committee members. Randall suggested that attendance requirements include meetings of all committees that a councilman sits on, in addition to council meetings.
Members can be dismissed on some committees if they miss three meetings. Shakespeare pointed out that the governing body cannot choose to dismiss a councilmember. Both Shakespeare and Bird said that voters elect the Council, and as such, can choose to not re-elect the councilmen they think aren’t doing a good job.
Bird said Utah law doesn’t have a process where councilmen can be recalled. He said that by mirroring the requirements of the committees, “we are taking the decision of who sits at this table out of the hands of the people.”
Randall agreed, suggesting that attendance be tied to the pay that council members receive. Shakespeare said that council members sometimes have personal or business issues that come up that require them to miss a meeting.
Bird added that the burden on a council member is different than a committee member, with Councilmen often having four to six meetings a month.
Bird and Shakespeare both suggested that Randall bring a proposal to the council if the issue merits further discussion. “My point was not to point a finger at any member of the governing body. If we get to a point where there is a problem, we need to have something in place,” said Randall.
Council members Shakespeare and Bird work as employees of larger organizations, while the remaining council members – Randall, Hoggard and Scott Frost – own their own businesses. The vast majority of missed meetings appear to have been job and business related.
Of the 20 meetings in 2009, Shakespeare has missed five, Frost and Bird each have missed four, and Hoggard and Randall have each missed one meeting.
City Manager Myron Lee said state law gives the City the authority to impose an attendance policy. He said that some cities require attendance and dock pay for an absence. Members of the City Council are paid $125 a month for their service.
“I don’t see that this is an issue,” said Shakespeare. “There may be personal issues, but I don’t see it coming from the community saying councilmen are missing meetings.”
Randall disagreed, adding, “Last month we had a meeting that we had to cancel.”
Mayor Doug Allen said it was the first time in 10 years that a meeting was cancelled for a lack of a quorum.
“If this was occurring every six months… I would say, hey we’ve got a problem,” said Bird. “But we’ve had one meeting in ten years cancelled.”
In other business, City Manager Lee reported on a complaint by city residents about truck parking, dust, odors and noise coming from the Black Oil property on Main Street.
Lee said that the current use of the property was established prior to 1982, when the first zoning ordinances were put into place. While a truck stop is not listed as a permitted use in a commercial zone, the use is legal because it was established prior to the zoning ordinance.
Addressing the noise, odor and dust complaints, Lee said that the Health Department has not yet determined if the health parameters are being exceeded.
Resident Gary Hout re-iterated his concern that the area needs to be cleaned up and paved, and perhaps a noise ordinance imposed. Black Oil President Burton Black said that it is not advertised as a truck stop, regardless of what residents have found on internet listings.
Shakespeare suggested that more research be done before having more discussion on the item. Mayor Allen agreed and assured the residents that the City is researching the issue.
In other business, the Council approved a subdivision east of the Hideout Golf Course for Chuck Burand. After prior questions if the road to the property is a city street or a private drive, the Planning Commission classified the road as a city street.
Burand will divide his property in two, both of which have existing homes. The subdivision conditions for approval state there is no requirement for street, sewage disposal, water, curb, gutter, sidewalk, or storm drainage improvements, it is a simple division of land.
The piece in question is one acre and will have no other divisions. Burand said that use of the street is primarily from City staff accessing the golf course and maintenance shop.
Bird expressed concern over the question of paving streets. Planning Commission member Dale Black said that a 2008 ordinance established several options for dealing with subdivisions on unimproved city streets. Bird said that the ordinance deals with new building, but doesn’t seem to address existing buildings.
City Manager Lee reported that city staff has discussed the Keith Redd Fire Station and the public works building. Both properties have been appraised in anticipation of a potential sale.
Lee suggested that in the short term, the public works building be retained and used for storage. It is recommended that the city sell the fire station, and a building that was purchased by public works but not erected. Money from the sales would be used to finance long term plans. Lee suggested a priority be placed on replacing the antiquated boiler at City Hall.
Other long term plans include four new buildings, including equipment storage at the ball parks and police storage near City Hall. When these projects are complete, the public works building would be sold, and funds used to display the Big 4 Tractor at the Welcome Center and a public works building at the mill site.
Lee doesn’t expect enough revenue from the sale of the two buildings to complete the four projects, but to use it as “seed money” in applying for grants. He reports they are working on a grant to replace the boiler and windows in City Hall, and may need seed money to receive the funding.
Winn Westcott suggested that instead of selling the fire station, house the Big 4 there until a new facility can be built. Councilman Randall expressed concern over selling one building only to build other storage facilities.
Lee said the new storage facilities will be more appropriate for their intended purposes. He added that they have received information from four interested buyers.
Hoggard questioned if it would be better to erect the unused building and use it at the golf course for cart storage. Lee said it would take up to $60,000 in concrete to get the building up, and they are not sure what condition the sheet metal is in.
The council voted 3-1 to keep both the fire station and the un-erected building. Randall suggested that they determine the cost of putting up the metal building, check its condition, and do something with it.
Cassie Boyle approached the Council on behalf of the Beautification Committee. She said that the committee is discouraged that funding was cut from the budget. Boyle said it is hard for a committee when no funds are available for any projects.
Shakespeare suggested that the committee look to various clubs at Monticello High School for assistance with time and labor.
Lee pointed out that the new decorative lighting on Center Street is primarily because of the work of the Beautification committee.
Randall expressed concern that the City owns the light poles on Center Street and is responsible for light bulbs, maintenance and replacing poles that are damaged. He suggested that the committee needs to have funds set aside for these costs.
Boyle asked why the costs would be covered by the committee and not as part of city infrastructure. Lee said that they are working with Empire Electric to change the bulbs, which will be purchased by the city. Damaged poles will be dealt with on a joint basis with UDOT. Lee reported the City is seeking grants to install decorative lighting on Main Street.
Mayor Doug Allen expressed that the efforts of the Beautification Committee are appreciated and thanked them for their time.