New Blanding City Administrator begins soon
A new Blanding City Administrator is set to begin work in the near future after the Blanding City Council voted to begin contract negotiations with David Shayne Johnson. The decision was made at the November 24 council meeting.
Blanding Mayor Joe B. Lyman reflected that he has personally known every mayor of Blanding since 1954 and that he felt a lot of weight, as if they were saying, “Don’t screw this up.”
Lyman said that after extensive council and advice, careful consideration, and a lot of sleepless nights contemplating the decision, he wanted to announce his intention to nominate David Shayne Johnson.
Lyman said Johnson has proven experience in economic development, planning, parks and recreation, utility billing, land use, financing and budgeting, marketing, public relations, and human resource. Johnson is also a member of several professional and academic associations.
Johnson has a master’s degree from the University of Utah and a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University. The Mayor said he assured Johnson that whether he bleeds Red or Blue, he would still find friends in Blanding, because they bleed both colors.
Logan Shumway moved to begin formal negotiations with Johnson and KD Perkins seconded it. A roll call vote was called and the council supported the motion.
There was concern expressed by Councilwoman Cheryl Bowers, who said she cannot support the motion and wants the reasons to be clear. Bowers said it has nothing to do with the candidate but with concerns regarding the hiring process.
Bowers said the city manager position is crucial. There have been just five in the history of Blanding.
She added that an executive level position would normally include an interview pool of up to ten people and then a second interview for the top candidates. In this case, there were about six qualified candidates, with two interviews and no second interviews.
Bowers concluded, “I cannot in good conscience support this appointment when I do not believe a thorough hiring process was completed.”
After the vote was approved, Mayor Lyman asked Johnson if he would give the council an introduction. Johnson thanked the council and stated he hopes to do justice on his appointment.
The San Juan Record will provide a detailed story on Johnson in the December 9 issue.
In other matters at the November 24 meeting, the council discussed a resolution authorizing the Steel Solar Project with Utah Associated Municipal Power System.
City Engineer Terry Ekker reports that it is a 40-megawatt solar project located in Brigham City, UT. The price for power is $31.45 per megawatt, which is lower than their other options and will remain at that price for the agreement of 25 years.
At this point, the cost is $55 per megawatt for wind power. The difference is in wind-based carbon free power project can operate 24 hours a day, while solar is based on sunshine.
Kim Palmer gave a presentation regarding CARES Act fund distribution. There will be purchases on items the city already needs and which will not be paid with local tax funds.
Mayor Lyman announced that an Interlocal Agreement with San Juan County to share Transient Room Taxes (TRT) was not approved by the county.
Lyman said he was told it didn’t pass due to COVID changes and there was not an accurate accounting of the funds in the past.
Lyman said there have been no changes to Utah code and added that the city details every penny spent. He said the city will need to further engage in the issue and may need legal advice if they continue to not see eye to eye.
The Christmas Fair is scheduled for December 4 and 5 at the Blanding Wellness Center. The fair will include guidance from San Juan Public Health.
Both the City of Blanding and vendors will need to enforce mask policies, as both groups share responsibility to enforce health guidelines.
Council members Robert Turk and Cheryl Bowers volunteered to attend the event and help enforce the rules. The council expressed hope that the city and vendors will work together this year and for years to come.