Monticello talks traffic, water, garbage issues
By Katie Boyle
The Monticello City Council sent a letter asking for help at the school crosswalk on Main Street, continued discussions about raising garbage rates, and planned where to set secondary water rates at their latest meeting.
At their March 22 meeting, the council discussed setting secondary water rates for the season in the city.
City Public Works Director Nathan Langston reported on the current state of water for the city. Loyds Lake is at 42 percent capacity, the culinary ponds are at 80 percent and 88 percent capacity, and the secondary pond is at 82 percent capacity. Loyds Lake is 89 percent of the historic average for the month of March.
Looking at the city formula, which takes into account the levels at Loyds Lake and the percent of average precipitation accumulation, the recommendation for the secondary water rate would be at stage three severe level.
The severe stage is the third of four total stages for the city. Setting the rate at severe will encourage conservation of water by raising secondary rates above normal and informing the public of the limitation of water.
The council will ultimately set the secondary water rate at their April 12 meeting. Barring extreme weather events or the council choosing to forgo the city formula, the rate will very likely be set at the severe level three, the same designation as last year.
The council also discussed the possibility of raising fees for the sanitation department services. While the new fees would likely not impact residential users, they would affect businesses.
City staff has reported that the town garbage truck has broken down several times and will soon be unusable.
City Manager Evan Bolt estimates replacing the truck will cost between $250,000 and $300,000. A new side-loading truck may be able to service all residential cans in a single day.
At their latest meeting, city staff reported the sanitation department annual expenses and income for the last four years. They recommend rates be raised to accommodate the large down payment necessary to buy a new garbage truck.
Rates would not increase across the board, and some service fees would be lowered.
The proposed sanitation rates increase total revenue by an additional $23,000 annually. The rates may also save the city money in time, as the proposed rate increases would be steeper for multiple pick-ups per week.
For example, a 4-yard dumpster picked up twice a week would cost users $252, while an 8-yard dumpster picked up once a week would cost $200.
Although residential rates were not raised, Councilmember George Rice advocated for considerably lower rates for those users inside the city as opposed to those who contract to have their trash removed from outside city limits.
The city will also pursue grants to help replace the truck.
Mayor Bayley Hedglin recommended communication, especially with local businesses, before the change is made. The council did not make a final decision concerning the issue.
The council signed a letter addressed to the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) concerning a school crosswalk that crosses Highway 191 at 200 North Main Street.
The letter asks UDOT to put an overhead school zone marker or larger marker signs near the crosswalk.
The letter explains that the Monticello Port of Entry estimates about 550 trucks come through the city each day. These trucks pose a hazard for school children crossing the highway.
Since October 2021, there have been 26 citations written within the school zone. The council voted unanimously to sign the letter. Others have signed on as well, including San Juan County Sheriff Jason Torgerson and San Juan School Superintendent Ron Nielson.
Nielson reportedly said he would also approach the school board about sending a letter to UDOT.
The council received a report from Kate Goble of the Monticello Parks and Recreation committee. Goble reported the results of a recent survey of city residents regarding parks and recreation.
The committee published a letter to the Editor in the March 22 issue of the San Juan Record.
At the meeting, the council also discussed how to work more effectively during a work session.
Councilmember Rice expressed frustration and concern for the city's ability to complete projects, saying, “This town will never progress until we have some accountability and we have some people putting in effort and doing their jobs.”
The council walked through the process of accomplishing goals by requesting an item be put on a city agenda and working with the appropriate city department to move the project forward.
Among projects, the council hopes to address include the restrooms at Loyds Lake, concerns about HR policies related to compensation time, discussions about city planning and zoning, and the creation of a list of projects available for city volunteers.