“If you had a pack of dogs running around town you would be taking care of it. These are a pack of deer and they need to be taken care of,” said an impassioned Councilwoman Cassie Boyle during the November 14 meeting of the Monticello City Council.
Boyle is determined to make her voice heard and have something done about the overwhelming deer population currently residing inside the city limits of Monticello before her term on the council is up.
She has brought the issue to the council several times in recent months. Some councilmen said they have no problem with the deer.
Boyle said she loves the animals too, but there is a problem. She cited several instances where community members have had problems with deer destroying yards and crops.
City Manager Trent Schafer stated that when the City previously asked the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) to remove deer from town, the response to a community survey was 50/50 on both sides of the deer issue. Boyle said that when people who depend on a garden can’t grow one because of the deer then it needs to be taken care of.
Schafer told Boyle the DWR has acknowledged there are a larger number of deer in town this year due to the drought. Schafer said that the Division has concerns about the removal of deer inside city limits, but is willing to do so if they receive a directive from the City. The issue will be put on the next council agenda for a vote.
Several council members raised concerns about the condition of streets throughout the city. Boyle questioned if there is money for patchwork before several roads deteriorate beyond repair.
Councilman Jeremy Hoggard questioned why no crack sealing and no maintenance has been done on existing roads in the past two years. Schafer said he disagrees with Hoggard’s information, and said he would get a list to the council of work that has been done.
Councilman Brad Randall said he didn’t think the city crew was ignoring the problem, but that the process of crack sealing takes several members of a crew and a great deal of time, in addition to an already large work load. He asked if it was possible to look into subcontracting the crack sealing.
Councilman Hoggard said he was not saying anything negative about the job the public works crew does, and was not accusing them of neglecting their job. He said that the streets need more attention than the city is able to give at this time.
Boyle said that the city needs a plan, and then follow through, rather than just talk. Hoggard agreed with Randall, that if there is no time for the city crew to do the work, the council should look into a private contract, if it is feasible and affordable versus hiring more full time staff.
Boyle said that the public works crew works above and beyond their pay, and doesn’t want them to take the blame for the streets, acknowledging that much of the problem is driven by lack of revenue.
Schafer said the City has been playing catch up, rebuilding roads that were not built properly by contractors and because of bad information given to the city. He also told the council the cost of patch materials is up 2.5 to 3 times that of a year ago.
“We might have the manpower, but do we have the budget?” asked Schafer.
Mayor Doug Allen suggested diverting some of the money for road construction to repair work, and extending the life of some roads through chip sealing. He asked about considering a transportation sales tax initiative on the next ballot, which would not solve the problem, but would help. Schafer told the council the city will chip seal up to ten blocks this winter.
For several weeks, the council has discussed the purchase of the empty lot between Pioneer Park and Wagon Wheel Pizza on Main Street. Mayor Allen said he would still like to see some business participation in the purchase. Allen said that purchasing the lot will serve several purposes, including additional access and drainage for the new fire station/city shop, and parking for Main Street businesses. Schafer said there could be 12 parking spots in the lot.
Assistant City Manager Greg Martin gave a final report of his efforts before taking over as City Manager in St. Johns, Arizona. Martin reports that year-to-date visitation to the Welcome Center is 12,971, up 36 percent from 2006. Martin said that they expect an additional 500-700 visitors before year’s end.
The busiest days are Thursday through Saturday and the busiest hours are between 10 and noon. Martin reported that one of the two employees has resigned and suggested that additional staff may be needed to meet the hours and prevent burn out.
Martin reports that the City applied for $724,321 in grants in 2007 and received $270,682, with one application still pending. He reported that there were 17 building permits requested in 2007, 16 residential and one commercial.
The total value of the projects is $1,142,048 and will generate $12,472 in city fees. Seven are for new homes, which accounts for 87 percent of the total value. This is down from 24 permits in 2006, with nine homes and a total value of $1.2 million.
Martin reported that code violations in 2007 consisted of 17 weed, 14 junk and debris, 13 inoperable or unlicensed vehicles, three prohibited signs, two abandoned signs, one fence height, and one animal violation.
Martin said that of 41 letters sent, 23 met the city’s request with full compliance. He said 11 are still in process and are working with the city to comply, but seven have taken no action. Of these, three have been sent to the City Attorney for legal action. If no action is taken in coming months, the others will be sent to court.
Martin said he expects to see progress in the future as attitudes change toward property maintenance. He said the code enforcement program will move to more voluntary compliance as support continues from the council and the community.
Mayor Doug Allen extended thanks to Martin for a job well done. He acknowledged that Martin did not have the most popular job in the city, but appreciated the professionalism with which Martin handled his tasks and wished him luck in his future endeavors.
The council adopted resolutions to re-certify the Monticello Justice Court and reappoint Lyon Hazelton as Justice Court Judge. Both are four-year appointments.
The city will put up a sign at the new airport site to alert property owners and buyers of the intent to build an airport.
In other business, the council appointed Jane Musselman and Dennis Hoggard to the Economic Development Committee, Brandon Ipson to the Planning Commission, and Dayne Doucett to the Golf Committee. They also approved a one lot subdivision at 416 South 300 West.