Blanding City council recognizes citizen of the year, discusses utilities

Blanding city council recognized the citizen of the year, updated their contract with Waste Management and adopted the Water Master Plan at their July 12 meeting.

Janet Wilcox has been named Citizen of the Year. Wilcox, a teacher at San Juan High School was celebrated for her service to the Blanding Community. While presenting the award, Mayor Logan Monson explained, “The intent is to honor those who have made contributions to Blanding that result in a better community.”

Wilcox was reportedly nominated by many different people.

City Economic Development Specialist Pratt Redd reported the city’s Independence Day was successful and well attended. This year was the first the city has spaced out celebrations throughout the week. Redd and Councilmembers agreed it worked well and made for a week of fun.

Winners of the parade are as follows: People’s Choice went to San Juan High School Cheer, Most Creative awarded to Tiny Trains made by Mike and Terry Liechty, Best Theme was awarded to Blue Mountain Hospital, and Utah State University’s float was named Best Overall.

Council also received a report that water conservation has worked well with 18-percent less water use June 2022 than the year previous. Annual precipitation is 63.1-percent for the current water year.

City Manager David Johnson reported on some concerns with the city's contracted attorney.

In addition to receiving invoices in a timely manner Johnson reported that the new representation is spending more time on cases than the previous city attorney.

“We anticipated the rate being doubled, we budgeted for that but what we didn’t budget for was three times the amount of time we spent on things.”

Johnson shared with the council that the contracted attorneys had expressed they want to thoroughly cover political sensitivities. Johnson shared that in conversations he made it clear that hours need to be pulled back.

Johnson added in fairness that the city's contracted attorneys have been working on a backlog of cases while also becoming familiar with the city.

At the meeting council also approved a change to the structure of their contract with Waste Management.

The amount Blanding City pays for Waste Management services has been based on the standard consumer price index, but the council, on advice from Waste Management and city staff approved a change to a Water Sewer Trash Index.

The change should mean less volatility in rates that residents pay for trash services, but comes at a higher upfront cost, with less volatility in prices over the next five years of the agreement.

The customer rate increase to cover the costs will be a $39 annual increase, but the city and Waste Management anticipate waste increases will be much lower for the following years.

The council also approved the first use of their new commercial development agreement (CDA) policy approved in March.

The policy allows the city to enter into bilateral agreements with businesses in existing commercial buildings. The agreement allows the city to reimburse up to $25,000 for the cost of labor to install, extend, modify or renovate the main lines connected to city utilities.

Using the approved rubric, city staff determined Sunrise Outfitting would be eligible for a $12,000 reimbursement for their work to extend Blanding City utility lines to their new location.

Sunrise has spent $18,300 in water main infrastructure on the property. Johnson explained the project.

“Basically this is a reimbursement because of what they’re contributing to city infrastructure.”

Council also approved continued participation in the Steel 1 Solar project, under the recommendation from staff. This despite some delays to the project in Box Elder County.

The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) has agreed to purchase power from the Steel Solar project over the 25 year life of the project. The project was planned to come online at the end of 2022 but has been pushed to September 2023 as a result of supply chain issues.

As a result of the challenges the power cost will rise from $31.35 MWH to $34.55 MWH for the life of the project, the amount Blanding City plans to purchase from the project would make up 13-percent of Blanding peak load.

Council also adopted the updated Water Master Plan. Utility plans are typically updated every 10 years, the Blanding Water Master Plan was created by Jones and DeMille with funding coming from a grant from the state. The grant was part of the state's involvement in the Westwater utility project.

The plan concludes that the current system has sufficient water rights and storage for the current and future demands. The plan does suggest improvements to existing wells, or the addition of a new source. It’s also recommended that Blanding replace sections of pipe to improve fire flow capacity.

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