Green River City held a public hearing to discuss and take public comment concerning the annexation policy. Mayor Glen Dale Johnson gave a brief history of the purpose of the public hearing. In 2002, the State of Utah enacted a law that stated that before any annexation could take place in any town, that city must have an annexation policy in affect.
In response to the state law, and in the event of future annexations to be done by Green River, the council is requesting a public hearing to take comments on the draft policy the city is considering. Mayor Johnson made specific mention that the city is not planning any annexation at the present time, but this action is being done in the event that Green River considers any annexations in the future.
"The planning commission has worked very hard on this project. They have considered any possible annexations for the next 20-30 years. Another consideration was whether the city could provide services to these areas in the event of future annexation. We are gathering input from the citizens about this 'area of influence' that Green River is suggesting," said Mayor Johnson.
"This will be the first of two public hearings on this issue. Following this public hearing, we will continue to take comments in writing at city hall. We are also required to notify Emery and Grand counties of our decisions," continued Mayor Johnson. "Again, we are not annexing anything into Green River with this public hearing."
Connie Copenhaver, of the planning commission remarked that the area noted on the map, if this annexation policy is accepted, will become an area of influence. It will also be noted in the town's general plan. The general plan, when in force, will direct all future activities in Green River. Without this policy, Green River would not have voice concerning the development of any of the land contained in the area of influence.
Char Uptain asked the council about the dimensions of the area in the proposed policy. She was given the measurements of 12 miles west, five miles east, seven miles north and eight miles south of the existing city limits. Her comment was that the area is too large.
Jerry McNeely, representing Grand County, was present at the public hearing to speak for Grand County. He stated that with some review and consideration of this proposed policy, Grand County feels that the area under consideration to be included in the annexation policy, is too large. "For the record, we want it known that Grand County is against this policy," said McNeely.
Kelly Quinn is a property owner outside of the current Green River City limits. She stated that there is no benefit in this proposal for property owners. "I also do not understand why the area being considered is so big," said Quinn.
Another property owner, Sharon Nelson, stated that this area of influence takes in her property also. She stated that even if this annexation policy is accepted, city services cannot be brought into her property, and she felt the area was too large.
Dan Harrison questioned the necessity of the city to adopt a policy at this time. He said that this policy is not tested and wondered whether any other cities in the county have accepted these types of policies. He also questioned who would be the enforcing agency in the event that this policy is accepted.
Mary Wilmarth suggested that the proposed area of influence be made smaller. In the future, if deemed necessary, the area can be expanded.
Betty Burns stated that from the view point of a judge, this policy would create more problems. In the past, when a portion of Green River City was in Grand County, many problems arose for her as part of the judiciary. If this area of influence is accepted, and in the future any part of the Grand County property is considered for annexation, many more problems will arise than be solved.
The city council thanked everyone for their comments and closed the public hearing with the reminder that written comments will be accepted for 10 days, following which a second public hearing will be scheduled.
Joni Pace of the Green River Community Center made several presentations to outstanding volunteers. The Presidential Award was given to Char Uptain and Dee Newland. These volunteers have given more than 500 hours of service to the center during the past year. Bruce Pittman was given the Volunteer of the Month award for his outstanding service.
Mayor Johnson discussed the 2005-2006 budget. The new budget must be submitted before the end of June, and some decisions must be made concerning the departments with shortfalls. The museum, the water department, and the sewer department are all forecast to have deficits.
Since the construction of the new water plant, everything needed in its operation, wages, utilities, and insurance, have risen drastically in cost. It is estimated that the city will need to raise water and sewer fees by 20 percent to meet the shortfall. Councilman Tom Burr stated that there is a need to do investigation and find out where the city is losing the money in the facility.
During the construction of the water plant, the engineers built in a figure of proposed growth to the city of Green River. That figure was used in the estimate to help with the estimated costs of running the plant. That growth has not occurred to assist with the rising costs of operation. The council scheduled a work meeting to work out the details of the budget.
Councilman Blaine Evans stated that advertising has begun for seasonal employment opportunities in the mosquito abatement program. The mosquito district has applied for a $2,800 grant to help with the additional costs to fight mosquitos this year. With the above average rainfall, and the amount of standing water, the predictions are that the mosquito problem will increase this year over last year.
All Emery County residents are encouraged to walk around their property and turn over everything that can possibly hold water. They are also encouraged to empty all standing water, and notify the abatement district of any areas of concern. The abatement district will map out all treatment locations and to complete preliminary work to make sure that the mosquito problem is kept to a minimum.
Councilman Evans said the sentinel chickens have arrived and will be watched closely for signs of West Nile Virus. Last year, Grand Junction, Colo. had 29 cases of West Nile Virus, and the virus was identified in Green River, and fortunately, no human cases were reported. "Please, everyone needs to be involved in the process to reduce any opportunity for mosquito breeding grounds. If there is anything in your yard that can collect water, please dump it out," said Evans.
The next Green River City council meeting will be June 14 at 6 p.m.