The deer residents of Monticello in the North Creek Lane area should start packing their bags, as the Monticello City Council voted in favor of removal of a portion of the herd at the June 11 meeting of the Monticello City Council.
After much discussion, Councilman Walter Bird made a motion to ask the DWR to remove a portion of the deer population from the area. The motion passed with a vote of three to one, with Councilman Jerry Ward voting against. The discussion has been ongoing for several months, since several residents of the North Creek Lane expressed concern over the large number of deer impacting their property.
City Manager Myron Lee said he met with the Division of Wildlife Resources to request a plan for deer removal within city limits. Lee said the DWR had two questions for the city: what sections of town are the biggest problems, and the percent of deer to remove.
The DWR will apparently push deer away from homes and then shoot them. Lee reports they will likely wait until August, in order to avoid problems with doe’s and fawns.
Councilman Ward said he would not support a deer removal program and added, “We as citizens have the right to do a lot of things... but yet we don’t have the right to go to the government to solve all our problems.”
Ward said that if people want a lawn and they live in areas with deer, they need to take measures to protect their investment.
Councilman Bird said they were asking the government to deal with something that is already their responsibility. “The DRW is asked to manage wildlife, deer in particular, in the State of Utah. If you have a problem with deer in town, it’s the DWR’s job to manage them,” said Bird.
“Just to ignore (citizens) and tell them to go out and build a fence is expensive...,” added Bird. “I think the citizens are being impacted, we should listen to them and their voice should be heard.”
Mayor Doug Allen said only a few people have complained about the deer, and questioned whether other residents in the North Creek Lane area have a problem with the deer.
Bird questioned how people who aren’t affected by the deer now, will be affected if a few deer are removed from town.
Concerns were raised about removing deer that will be replaced by another group in the Spring. Bird said many who have raised complaints are lifelong residents of Monticello, and have never had the deer problems they have now. Councilman Jeremy Hoggard questioned if the DWR will remove the deer that are the biggest problem.
Bird said that they don’t need to completely eliminate the deer, but that the golf course created a safe haven for deer and something needs to be done. He is concerned about citizens getting frustrated and taking matters into their own hands.
The possibility of tranquilizing deer and removing them was raised, but it is cost prohibitive and dangerous. The general feeling is there is a 50/50 split between those who want or don’t want deer removed.
The 2008-09 city budget was adopted by the council. Prior to the approval, Myron Lee discussed the proposed budget, with $6,554,860 in income and $6,722,532 in expenditures for a $167,672 budgetary shortfall.
Lee discussed the options to balance the budget, including using money from savings accounts or leaving the position of Assistant City Manager open. Lee said that the sanitation budget has a $41,000 shortfall. The council may need to adjust sanitation fees.
Several taxes, including Transient Room Tax, Transportation Sales Tax, or Zoo, Arts and Parks Tax, could increase income significantly. The city lost the Resort City sales tax this year, taking roughly $100,000 out of city revenues.
Lee recommended that the council adjust the sanitation fee, consider adding or raising the three sales taxes, and leave the Assistant City Manager position vacant.
Councilman Bird suggested that the City add the TRT tax, as it doesn’t affect locals, but is a tourism tax. The council may not need to adjust sanitation fees, but will begin discussing the addition of the mentioned taxes at the next meeting.
Councilman Ward is concerned about shortfalls in recreation budgets. He said if the city eliminated recreation and golf, they would have a surplus. Councilman Bird questioned what the quality of life would be without recreation programs in the city.
Lee said that the proper way to account for recreation is in the general fund, the same as city courts, police, administration, fire department, streets and highways.
“Recreation, similar to all of those other funds, is a service that the city provides to it’s citizens,” said Lee. He pointed out that the police budget doesn’t make money, and never will, but it can’t be done away with. He said that in those areas, it comes down to what level of service do you want in the city. Ward said that if it comes to raising taxes, he can’t see continuing recreation programs and passing the cost on to every citizen.
The council approved the budget as balanced, since they have the money in the bank to cover the overage, but will discuss other options in the next few meetings, to balance without having to use savings.
In other business, Public Works Supervisor Nathan Langston reported on the replacement of water and sewer lines on Main and Center streets. He reports that 4,000 linear feet of water main and five fire hydrants have been installed. Langston says they have taken the first pressure test and sent water to be tested. He hopes to put some of the line into service this week.
On the sewer system, 3,500 linear feet, 16 new manholes and 21 lateral services have been installed. Langston said that the project was 48 percent complete. He also addressed the utility lines that have been cut. Langston said the contractors have crossed utility lines 87 times, and hit a line eight times, of which, only four were marked. He said that the major phone line that was hit was not marked.
The council received a petition from Pat Barr asking that Uranium Drive remain 35 feet wide rather than increasing to 40 feet. Barr said that 16 of the 20 residents who live on the street have signed the petition, and would like it to stay as is at 35 feet. Barr said that the street dead ends to the west, and south and does not run to Main Street, so it is used only by local traffic. He said that 200 West, which feeds into Uranium Drive, is 35 feet wide.
Barr initiated his request in order to keep a large, 50-year-old tree from being removed from his front yard. Myron Lee said the tree sits on the city right of way by seven feet, and will be compromised even if the street is left at 35 feet.
Mayor Allen said that if any street in the city would be eligible for an exception, Uranium Drive deserves to be looked at. It is a dead end and is currently 35 feet wide.
Councilman Ward motioned for the city to remove the tree and build the roadway 40 feet wide, as engineered. The council voted unanimously in favor.