Blanding City approves new water rates, gets update on cost saving for upgrade of Wellness Center

by David Boyle
News Director
At their latest meeting, members of the Blanding City Council learned of big savings on the Wellness Center update, received personnel updates, and approved a “Green” tier water year for the city.
At their April 11 meeting, members of the council received city personnel updates. City Manager Dave Johnson introduced Ben Muhlestein, the new head of Economic Development and Visitor Services.
Muhlestein is one of four applicants for the position. Originally from Monticello, Muhlestein had most previously worked at the Canyon Country Discovery Center in Monticello.
He replaces outgoing Blanding Economic Development Director Pratt Redd, who accepted a position in the private sector.
Members of the council were also updated on the search for a new finance director for the city. Former finance director Kim Palmer has accepted another job offer.
Johnson reports they have posted the open position and will take applications over the next few weeks. 
Members of the council also received an update from Johnson on the upgrade to the city Wellness Center sprinkler systems.
City staff formerly understood that they would need to install a voice-activated fire alarm as part of their upgrade. However, Jones and DeMille Engineering shared a discovery of an exception for existing buildings, with no plans of an add-on.
While the city will still replace the fire sprinkler system, the Wellness Center will keep the current fire alarm system and save an estimated $100,000 on the project.
Members of the city council also received a water report from city engineer and public works director Terry Ekker. 
Ekker presented the annual calculation used to determine the amount of water available to allocate to city residents. With a very wet winter and a forecast of full reservoirs, the council passed the recommendation to declare the water year a Green level, which includes the lowest tiered rate for water in an abundant year.
City staff and council did add a reminder to residents to not be wasteful and conserve, which can aid the next water year amidst years of drought.
At the meeting city, the council also approved a water planning and exchange agreement between the city and Blanding Irrigation. The agreement formalizes use of the upper-system water. 
According to the staff report, the agreement allows Blanding Irrigation to pass water through the Blanding No. 3 Reservoir and creates the ability for Blanding Irrigation to use excess pipeline capacity to bring water through Johnson Creek diversion or through Dry Wash Reservoir into city pipelines.

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