Blanding City Council discusses airport, Transient Room Tax collection, city projects

It was business as usual at the June 23 meeting of the Blanding City Council. The council interviewed local airport fixed base operator (FBO) applicants Shelby Seely and Kasper Pedersen. The other applicant, Jason Nay, put his support behind that of Seely and Pedersen. 

Councilmember Cheryl Bowers asked about the financials, although much is unknown about the number of people flying into the Blanding airport, making those numbers hard to determine.

All expressed a desire to make the experience of flying into Blanding desirable and successful. 

The council also discussed how the Blanding City Visitor Center impacts sales tax and Transient Room Tax (TRT) collections from restaurants and hotels.

A definitive number is hard to determine, but the council understands the importance of the visitors center to promote economic health in the county. 

The council expressed frustration at the San Juan County decision not to distribute $70,000 in TRT funds collected by the county. 

Councilmember KD Perkins said, “We’re more like a hub, and we promote so many things in the county. To not be getting a fair amount from the county for how we’re contributing to the overall economic health of the county – it’s wrong.”

City Manager Jeremy Redd said before the city received $70,000 from the county, the county had always given at least $15,000. “What you’re seeing,” he said, “is a lessening of support from the county.”

Redd reported that sales tax numbers from April had come back and the city saw a 12 percent increase in sales tax for the month.

Building supplies, hardware, and grocery stores saw a big increase, while restaurants and hotels saw a decrease. The city had budgeted for a 15 percent decrease, so the higher numbers are a pleasant surprise. 

The council approved a three-year contract with City Attorney Kendall Laws. Changes to the contract include an hourly rate of $125 when the number of contract hours are exceeded and an increase from $1,000 to $1,750 in the Association Membership, Office Supplies, Training, and Conferences category. 

Attendance at Blanding City Council meetings was clarified. City Manager Jeremy Redd expressed appreciation for Laws’ responsiveness and frequent help with the police department.  

City projects moving forward include the storm drain project and the transportation master plan. City Engineer Terry Ekker reported the public open house for the Transportation Master Plan went “really well.” There was quite a bit of comment and many attendees initially had concerns. 

Ekker said city planners and engineers from Jones and Demille were able to resolve many of those concerns. The city is working to incorporate public comment into the plan. 

Redd reported the public comment period will continue for 30 to 60 more to days to get as much input as possible from stakeholders. 

The council approved a letter of support for the safe, continued operation of the White Mesa Mill. The letter states the mill has been in operation for more than 40 years and has an excellent track record of safety for its workers, the public, and the environment. 

The letter also states the mill has been an important part of the economic viability of the community. 

The council passed a resolution to lower the certified property tax rate in the city by 9.2 percent. City Manager Jeremy Redd reported the city has been lowering the rate since 1997 as property values have risen to keep it revenue neutral.

San Juan Record

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