The Monticello City Council has decided to dissolve the Economic Development committee and assign the budgetary responsibility to the council. The four members of the council present at the January 27 council meeting voted unanimously to dissolve the committee.
Councilman Jeremy Hoggard pointed out that the committee has not met for many months, and that funds in their budget could be used for projects within the city, but cannot be approved if the committee cannot form a quorum.
He said that if it becomes a necessity at a later date, then it can be reformed. Hoggard said that a couple of committee members have shown up regularly, but they are rarely able to form a quorum.
He expressed frustration over not being able to make decisions in the community and having people approach the committee for funds and action and not being able to approve things for six months.
The chairman of the committee, Michael Martin, said he has talked with many people to try to find another member who would be active, but is unable to find someone with the time to commit.
It was pointed out that two of the members have missed enough meetings to make their seats available, and there is an open spot. Hoggard said that it is not any one person’s fault that the committee is not working, but there hasn’t been good focus, direction, or structure for the past few years.
The council said that if there is public interest down the road then the committee can be reformed. Assistant City Manager Ruth Skouson asked how the council will know if and when there is a need to reform the committee. The council said that it should be at the request of the community.
City Manager Myron Lee presented the council with a list of delinquent city utility accounts. He pointed out that many of the people on the list are former renters who have moved from town and cannot be found.
Lee told the council that they have filed a judgment on five of the former residents and have received a judgment in favor of the city, but have not been able to secure payment.
He asked the council to write the accounts off as a loss so the system will not continue to issue bills that are just returned to the city. Lee pointed out that a new policy of only signing up utilities in the name of the landowner and a $150 deposit for new accounts for the first 12 months should prevent this from happening to this degree in the future.
Councilman Scott Shakespeare suggested that the city turn the accounts over to a collection agency. He pointed out that if an agency was able to collect, the city would receive 50 percent of the amount collected, as opposed to nothing from simply writing them off.
The council voted unanimously in favor of writing off the accounts and turning them over to a collection agency.
The council discussed the survey requirements for building permits within the City of Monticello. There was a great deal of discussion on the issue and it’s impact on the city residents.
In late 2007, the issue was discussed several times by both the Planning Commission and City Council. The Council requested that the Planning Commission draft an ordinance requiring a survey before a building permit was issued.
The Commission made the recommendation to the Council, but a formal ordinance was never written or passed. Assistant City Manager Ruth Skouson pointed out that in some cases, the full survey seems a prohibitive requirement, costing upwards of $550 for a full survey.
Councilman Jeremy Hoggard pointed out the flaw, from his perspective, is that no one from the city is going out to the property to make sure any building is done where it has been approved.
He also raised concerns about requiring people to pay for a $500 survey to put a $1,000 porch on their house. Councilman Walter Bird asked about required setbacks and people not knowing where their property lines are before building, if they do not have a survey done.
Councilman Hoggard said it is the property owner’s responsibility to make sure they are building on their own property before spending money on their project. City Manager Lee told the council that by issuing a building permit, the city is giving permission to build, which gives the city liability.
Skouson told the council that Blanding City requires a detailed site plan and proof of ownership of property. She was also told that if someone builds on their neighbors property, the City of Blanding considers that a dispute between property owners.
Skouson told the council that when a building permit is issued, the citizen is required to sign the permit stating that they will follow all laws. Skouson also stated that surveys are not fool proof, as some homes have property lines that go to the middle of a street, which would make their setback requirement the curb, meaning that they could build right on the curb and still meet city requirements.
Mayor Doug Allen said that since this has been recommended by the Planning Commission and never acted on, the Council should ask the Commission to move forward.
He suggested that the issue of when a survey is required should also be discussed further. Councilman Scott Shakespeare suggested the possibility of setting the requirement for a survey based on the dollar amount of the project.
It was pointed out that cement does not require a building permit or a survey, but if you build it out of wood, you are required to have a permit.
The issue will now be sent back to the Planning Commission for further discussion and consideration of the councils concerns. Councilman Hoggard asked that surveyors and building inspectors also be contacted for their opinions.
City Manager Myron Lee presented an investment fund strategy, which the council approved unanimously. Lee told the council that the City has received reimbursement for money spent on the mountain water project. He said that the money originally came from the Road C Trust account and should be put back in that fund.
Lee also pointed out several other payments that have been made to the city that need to be moved into various Public Treasures Investment Fund accounts. The PTIF accounts are used as a place to hold money that is set aside for various projects, and earn a higher interest rate than the city’s checking account. The current interest rate on these accounts is 2.5% but it has been as high as 4% over the past 12 months.
It was pointed out that the current city code for firearms use in the city needs to be updated. It has been suggested by Chief of Police Kent Adair that the city adopt the current state law for firearms definition. Chief Adair also suggested the council look at doing away with the requirement for dances that allow youth participation to hire a police officer to be present at the dance.
There is also concern over the skunk problem within the city. The council asked City Manager Myron Lee will work on a program for a “skunk bounty” to help deal with the problem.
Councilman Brad Randall asked that changes be made to the City website. Golf rates, businesses in the city, contact information, city council agenda, and more user friendly ideas were suggested. The council asked for an update from staff in one month.
In other business, Gray Wangelin was re-appointed to the Airport Committee; alcoholic beverage licenses were renewed for Blue Mountain Foods, Shell and Woody’s, and a dance permit police fee was waived for a fundraiser.