The Blanding City Council met on July 23 to discuss the city electric rate study, economic development, and ongoing projects.
Council members examined the electric rate study at length. City Manager Jeremy Redd explained, “The idea behind the rate design is to identify the cost of serving a customer across the different rate classes we have and make sure we aren’t cross-subsidizing customers.”
The study, conducted by Utility Financial Solutions, suggests changes to the grid access fee and a power cost adjustment (PCA) fee to allow for fluctuations in rates without having to redesign the rate structure.
The current grid access fee is $5 and would increase to $7, $9, and then $11 over the course of three years. Adjustments to the energy charge portion of a customer’s bill would keep power bills relatively the same for most people.
Redd said, “Our electric company is healthy as long as the cost of power stays consistent. Right now, we want to keep everything the way it is. There’s no interest, appetite, or necessity for any sort of increase in revenue.”
The purpose, Redd says, is to set up the rate structure for future electrical use.
Councilmember Logan Shumway expressed concern that the gradual rate access charges would seem like the city was trying to “sneak” it in. “If we’re going to make a change, let’s be up front about it,” he said.
The study also recommended adding two new class services: small general service and general service, which would bring the class names in line with the industry.
Economic Development Director Pratt Redd gave a report on the extensive economic development work completed over the past year.
Redd has been the point-of-contact for economic projects and coordinated marketing efforts for the city. He serves as a strong advocate for economic development in Blanding and meets regularly with the economic development team from the county. This focused effort has paid off dividends in the grants and projects moving forward.
Council members expressed interest in Redd’s recent work with franchise business owners from Kayenta to understand how to attract businesses to Blanding.
Redd says his main goal is to make it easy for businesses to come to Blanding. “We want to create an environment if people want to come, build, develop, and invest in Blanding, we provide them with everything they need upfront. People will realize the city does care and we make it easy for people who want to come.”
City Manager Jeremy Redd commented on Pratt Redd’s work. He said, “He’s done a fantastic job. It’s been more valuable than I thought it would be. Pratt adds value wherever he can add value.”
The council also discussed potential opportunities for bringing visitors to Blanding, such as a Dutch Oven Days event, Indian Art Market, or more involvement with the ATV Safari.
City Engineer Terry Ekker updated council members on a number of ongoing projects.
The city has been working hard on the water rate study to make sure they get it right. Ekker and City Manager Jeremy Redd discussed the impact the rates would have on institutions such as churches, schools, and parks. With all the effort taken to make sure it’s done right for all customers, Redd said, “It’s going to be a really, really good model when we’re done.”
Ekker also discussed the transportation master plan the city has developed while working with local engineers Scoot Flannery and Chad Sonderegger.
The transportation master plan will include details about different road widths based on traffic volume, curb and gutter, sidewalk, total right-of-way widths, future corridor plans, collector roads, and so on.
Questions about whether or not the city wants park strips will be discussed in future council meetings.
Ekker also updated council members on the fuse coordination work with Intermountain Consumer Professional Engineers, Inc. The project isn’t slated to start anytime soon, but the study will look at how to improve fusing throughout the city to decrease outages.
Trophies were awarded for Independence Day parade entrants. Honorable mentions include Utah Navajo Health Systems and San Juan Health Care. Third place went to the Pinehurst Gang (the Stan Hurst Family), second place to Four Corners Regional Care Center, and first place to Blue Mountain Hospital.
Finance Director Kim Palmer gave the financial status report, which included the final report for fiscal year 2019.
Palmer said, “It was a great year. All in all, our revenues were up and our expenses were down.”