Blanding Council talks rate changes, impact fees

The Blanding City Council focused on changes to water and sewer impact fees and the electric rate in their meeting on August 13.

The council scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, October 10 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the proposed changes to the water and sewer impact fee ordinance and the current impact fees.

In the August 13 meeting, City Engineer Terry Ekker explained what an impact fee is and why the fees are in place: 

“An impact fee is a one-time charge to a new development for the purpose of raising funds for the construction of improvements required by the new development and to maintain the current level of service.” 

“Impact fees are a form of development exaction that requires a fee to offset burdens created by a new development on the existing municipal services.” 

City Manager Jeremy Redd said, “The biggest thing I would like people to know is that impact fees only affect new connections to the system and have no affect on existing customers or rates.”

The current impact fees for new residential water and sewer connections sit at $600 and $250, respectively. Proposed fees would change to $1,100 for a new drinking water connection and $1,400 for a new sewer connection for residential customers with a three-quarter inch meter. 

The proposed fees are based on recommendations from a study conducted earlier this year, which looked at the actual receipt costs for debt incurred by improvements and repairs to the system. 

Redd noted how low the impact fees are in comparison to other cities of a similar size, such as Richfield, Monroe, or Nephi.  They charge $4,000, $3,000, and $6,000, respectively. The grant money Blanding City has been able to obtain has kept costs very low. 

Redd said, “Ours is so low because the impact fees don’t take into account what we don’t pay for. If it’s grant-funded, it doesn’t get included in the calculation. We have low rates and low impact fees because we didn’t have to pay for it.”  

Councilmembers Cheryl Bowers and KD Perkins voiced concern about increasing the rates when homes are already so expensive to build. 

Redd explained, “If we don’t charge impact fees, it impacts the rate design. This is a way to capture the cost of growth for that development.” 

Redd also noted that it may be harder for the city to obtain grant money if it does not charge an appropriate impact fee. 

The council approved a motion to schedule public hearings and move forward with public discussion on changes to the impact fees. 

The council also adopted a resolution changing the rate structure for electric service. A gradual increase in the grid access fee is coupled with a gradual decrease in the charge per kilowatt hour and a power cost adjustment (PCA) in the new rate structure. 

Redd said the purpose of the rate change is not to collect more revenue, but to allow for a better rate structure to account for what customers are using. 

Redd said, “In every way, we want the rate design to fit what’s happening on the ground.” 

Changes are set to take effect September 26, 2019. 

In other business, Economic Development Director Pratt Redd brought a draft of revised bylaws for the Blanding Area Travel Council (BATC). Proposed changes include purpose, frequency of meetings, membership, number of council members, duties of the board, and roles of the chairman, vice-chair, and board members. The question the council raised regarding the BATC is how to get the right people involved. 

The council discussed the landscaping contract between the city and Cedar Canyon Enterprises, which is up this year. City Manager Jeremy Redd noted satisfaction with the work performed. 

The landscaper is willing to sign a one-year extension at the current rate. Councilmembers expressed a desire to put the contract out to bid to ensure fairness.  

Police Chief J.J. Bradford reported on incidents in July. They were down compared with the same time last year. 

A couple of officers attended the Utah Narcotics Officers conference and another was certified in phlebotomy in case a need arises to take blood. 

City Recreation Director David Palmer reports the numbers for soccer are very good, right behind softball and baseball. 

“It’s getting quite popular here,” he said. “We have 20 teams all playing.  The high school having a program really helps.” 

Palmer also notes the clarity of the pool is improved over last year when more nearby construction projects were going in.

City Engineer Terry Ekker reported that reservoirs are still full. Ekker noted on the water report that the 140 acre feet of lost water is largely water used by an irrigation company. It will be measured and accounted at the end of the irrigating season.

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