Rate increase approved at the Blanding City Wellness Center

by David Boyle
News Director
The Blanding City Council approved a rate increase for the Wellness Center, heard about upgrades to an airport building and moved closer to running water at Westwater with an approval of an easement at their latest meeting.
At their February 13 meeting members of the Blanding City Council approved a rate increase at the city wellness center.
City Recreation Director David Palmer most recently brought up the need for a rate increase in January. 
At the January 23rd city council meeting Palmer outlined that for years as costs of operation have gone up the city has absorbed those costs. Palmer said after taking a look at comparable rates of facilities like the wellness center in the area and similar sized towns the city has been behind the mark, with Palmer recommending the rate increase take place over two years.
At the request of council members Palmer also brought additional information to the February 13 meeting. Included in the information provided was that the current revenue generated by the Wellness Center covers about 52-percent of the $391,500 in expenses for the center, with the rest of the expenses covered by taxpayers. 
The proposed rate increases would cover 57-percent of the expenses for the center in 2024, with further increases in 2025 covering 62-percent of the expenses for the center.
When asked by council if city staff had heard feedback on the idea of rate increases Palmer reported not hearing anything while City Manager Trent Herring reported the feedback he received from the public was encouraging of the rate increase.
City council approved the gradual two-year increase to rates with an exception for day passes to jump up to the proposed 2025 increase starting this year.
As a result Adult day passes will increase from $4 to $6 with children and senior day passes increasing from $4 to $5.
An adult-only monthly pass will increase from $25 to $30 with a planned increase to $35 in 2025.
In addition, an annual pass for a family of two will increase from $250 currently to $275 with a proposed increase to $300 in 2025.
Council members approved the rate increase for just year one with council planning to revisit the data next year before approving a second rate change. Wellness Center rates are set to go up starting March 1.
Members of the Blanding City council also spent some time reviewing the city general plan before deciding to bring the plan back at the next meeting.
The city received a grant to complete the General Plan which was supposed to be completed in June of last year, but city staff reported that the project was held up in ways not communicated to council or staff.
City General Plans are typically updated every decade and are meant to be a framework to guide a municipality’s future growth, development, and land use policies.
While no public comments were provided regarding the plan at a recent planning and zoning meeting, members of the city council asked for another two weeks to review the general plan before likely approving it at their upcoming meeting.
Members of the Blanding City Council approved an easement for the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) on west Center Street.
City staff explained the easement is related to the project to bring running water to the Westwater community located west of city limits. 
The easement will allow NTUA to install, operate, maintain and repair their water lines within the guidelines of Blanding City.
The city will deliver the water to a portion of city owned property along west Center street with the city metering NTUA usage and NTUA metering individual lines in the Westwater community. 
The metering point is set to be about 150 feet from the west side of the city property, around the last level spot before the pipe will drop into the canyon.
The easement was signed off by the city legal team with the council voting to approve the easement and bringing Westwater residents one step closer to running water.
Blanding Community Development Director Bret Hosler reported on upgrades to the city West Terminal Building located at the city airport, built in the 1980’s the building has seen some improvements over the past few years. In addition to the improvements over the past few years the city was also the recipient of a $30,000 grant from the Utah Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division. Hosler reported that the city Fixed Base Operator DBA Freedom Fuels along with city staff was able to use the grant funds to upgrade the flooring in the building, lighting, furniture, and blinds and even repaint the interior of the building. Hosler also highlighted that the work at the building and even the upgraded furniture was all done using local businesses.
Members of the council also held discussions regarding a mobile home ordinance, the Blanding Community Legacy Trust, and an extensive discussion about locking in rates for natural gas prices. With council instructing staff to lock in prices for one year if possible and to look at locking in prices for 50-percent of purchases for a second year.

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