Emery Town council held a public hearing for input on the proposed water source improvements for the town. The total project cost is estimated at $6.67 million for construction, permitting, mapping, administrative costs, engineering and related expenses.
Mayor Mistie Christiansen went before the Community Impact board and recently obtained a grant/loan package for a total of $1,070,000 for the project. The US Army Corps of Engineers is contributing $5 million toward the project. Other funds procured for the project include: Consol Mining for $125,000; Muddy Creek Irrigation and Energy Sector for $475,000.
Christiansen reported the grant/loan package awarded by the CIB was for 75 percent grant and 25 percent loan. The loan total equals $270,000 over a 30 year period at 0 percent interest. "I feel like we are lucky to get that amount," said the mayor.
One of the purposes of the public hearing was to discuss a needed adjustment in the water rates of $4-5 per month. These increases in water rates will be used to make the loan payments each year. If more money is needed the town could obtain financing for the needed money. Consol Mine has also indicated they may be able to donate additional funds in the future towards the project. Mayor Christiansen was extremely grateful for obtaining CIB funding. If the town had to stand the cost of their match money for the Corps of Engineers contribution, rate payers in the town could have seen water rates increase by $110 a month.
The plan is to pipe the canal to the highway or until funds run out. There are many benefits for the project including a 30-40 percent water savings by stopping canal seepage. Currently the Muddy Creek canal company is working on the silting structure which must be in place before the canal piping project can begin. Any funds left over from the silting structure can be transferred to the canal project.
Public comments seemed to favor the increase in water rates to help fund the project. One resident said 20 years ago the town had passed up on a reservoir and with the $6 million in hand now, the town should move forward with the canal piping project.
John Byars said in past years when the canal froze over the city wells had stinky sulphur water the residents had to drink. He said there is a layer of mud underneath the city and the old church is sinking. With the canal being piped then maybe some of the muddy fields will dry up. The ground water is only down a foot and a half and basements in the town are nothing but trouble.
One citizen said, "We have never had this much money to help us."
The increases in the water rates will be gradual. The canal piping project will not increase water pressure, but quality pressure pipe 150-160 psi will be used. A 12 percent budget overage has been added into the budget for the project. The pipeline will be shortened if the project should run out of money. The town council voted to move ahead with the project with council members Dave Mangum and Corrine Dalton voting yes and Pat Sundstrom voting no.
The regular town meeting commenced at the close of the public hearing. The first item was the approval of the amended budget.
Amy Sundstrom reported the town received enough donations to purchase the flowers for the planters and baskets along Main Street. The town clean-up was a success and awards went to Ashley Sundstrom and Randy Lake.
The cement for the town signs will be poured at the same time one of the citizens does a pour to reduce costs.
Alisha Roberts gave the historical society report saying they are deciding which buildings to move to the historical park.
Fire chief Nash Roberts will take part in a trip to Nebraska in June to inspect the fire trucks as they are built. By January, each community will receive a new truck. The spaghetti dinner fund raiser for Linda Barnes was a big success.
Commissioner Gary Kofford said the new fire trucks are valued at $300,000 each and will be given free to each community because of CIB funds and money the fire district in the county has saved being utilized to purchase the new trucks. Each city will be free to choose what they want to do with their old fire truck. They can try to sell them if they want.
Mayor Christiansen asked Kofford what is going on with the building inspection program in the county. Kofford took a minute to compliment Mayor Christiansen on the water project. He said she has worked hard to get the funds to proceed with the project. She wrote the grant that went to the Army Corps of Engineers and within two-three weeks, Emery Town was notified it had received the grant. "She pulled this together and I'm glad to see you support her," said Kofford.
Kofford explained there has been a lot of opposition in the county to having a building inspector. The county is operating under state law and Utah has adopted the International Building code and so Emery County did as well. Where a building inspector program is active homeowners can get the best rates on insurance and fire insurance. If a home is not inspected by a building inspector, then it is harder to get a loan. Banks won't loan money on homes that aren't inspected. Home inspection is a protection to the future homeowner. If something is installed wrong, then hopefully the building inspector will pick-up on it. Emery County has a good ISO rating and every three years that rating is re-evaluated. "As council people you have been sworn-in to uphold the law in the state of Utah. Remember that as you debate this issue. May 11 was the county building inspector's last day. We will meet with the mayors to see what they want to do. Six years ago the towns approached the county. They wanted the county to hire a qualified inspector. We are trying to do what the mayors have asked us to do and there has been a lot of criticism. We have hired Sunrise Engineering for all current inspections until we meet with the mayors and decide where to go.
"Certified building inspectors must pass nine tests and sign an agreement they will uphold the law. They attend three-four weeks of schooling each year. Each building inspector will see things different, but they should adhere to the code," said Kofford.
Corrine Dalton said if the county intends to go to Sunrise then it doesn't make sense for Emery to contract with Sunrise on their own, but to stay with the county.
Kofford said there is a lot of work involved in keeping records of all inspections. They must be kept for seven years. All the records for the county have been digitized. The county has a full-time planning and zoning secretary who schedules appointments and keeps track of all the bookwork. Kofford recommended Emery Town keep an inspection program going whether on their own, or through the county, he really didn't care. "I don't tell the inspectors anything. They should follow the IBC. Everyone, everywhere should be following that code. The code changes every year. In July each year those changes come into affect. This year the code for breaker boxes is changing. Rocky Mountain Power did an inspection and have identified five residents who will need to put new breaker boxes in. Rocky Mountain Power won't set a power pole or the gas company won't put in a meter, unless there's been an inspection. You can't get around it."
Kofford said since the mayors are the ones that wanted the program it will be up to them and their councils to decide the next step. He said the people who are doing the building should incur the cost of the inspectors. It takes $150,000 a year to run the planning and zoning office and the most collected from building fees was $90,000. So the department runs at a deficit as it is.
Emery Council tabled any recommendation on the building inspector program until after the mayors meet.
Emery Town approved the rate increases for out of city limits water connections for sewer and water, but they haven't signed the interlocal agreement. The town lawyer looked at the agreement and recommended some minor changes in language. If a person wants an outside water connection they go to the city first and then joint approval must be given with the town and the Castle Valley Special Service District.
Jacob Sharp, CVSSD manager said currently the agreement states that it's illegal to grant outside connections. The new policy allows such connections. Other communities have been grateful for this change that allows outside water connections.
Emery Council said they had a problem in the past with the district when the district denied an outside water connection for an Emery resident, when the same night three others were approved. The council wants to have a say over their water.
Sharp said he is new to the CVSSD and he can't say what was done before, he said he would have to review the minutes for the meeting in question where this action took place.
Mangum said if outside water users are willing to pay the bill to get these connections and the extra fees then there shouldn't be a problem with issuing outside water connections.
Mayor Christiansen said there has been a lack of trust between the district and Emery Town since that time. She would like to see a relationship restored between the town and the CVSSD.
Sharp said the CVSSD board will have to approve the changes in the interlocal agreement with Emery. Sharp said he would guess the board will go along and approve the agreement. The council agreed to table the signing of the interlocal agreement until the CVSSD board approves it. Brad Giles, CVSSD board president said the agreement might carry more weight if the Emery Council approved the agreement prior to its being sent to the CVSSD board. Emery Council agreed not to sign the interlocal agreement yet.
Sharp said there are seven other towns within the district and the board must work as a whole to the benefit of all towns. Sundstrom said their council is sensitive to what goes on in their town. That whole war with the water connection wasn't necessary if the connection had just been approved at the time.
Giles said there was an agreement in force at that time that said no outside water connections. Sharp said the district needs to be backed by Emery Town. Sundstrom said they don't want to have the CVSSD board decide for them. Sharp said if the town wants the benefits from the district, then they must abide by the rules of the board.
Mayor Christiansen invited her board to attend the CVSSD board meetings to voice their opinions.
The board approved the signing of a letter for mitigation planning which would come into play to acquire FEMA funds should the town ever need disaster funding.
Several citizens were on hand to discuss nuisance dogs in Emery. It is difficult to walk a dog on a leash without getting attacked by dogs running loose. The town has an ordinance in force and needs to use it. Patrick Sundstrom is the animal control officer for Emery and he has a ticket book and will begin writing tickets for offending animals. If loose dogs are about, you can call the sheriff's office and they are supposed to send an animal control officer. Private citizens can call and make these complaints. Deputies can offer citations on the complaint of a resident. Sundstrom said he has had luck in talking to people about their dogs. The town office will put out a call to all residents notifying them that action will be taken with loose dogs.
The EMT parking will be paved at the new fire station and also a piece by the post office.
In the public lands update, the mayor said the Emery County Land use bill is in draft form and waiting for a map. There is concern now where it will go without Sen. Bennett as a supporter of the bill.
The Ferron Canal Company and the Cattleman's Association is not happy with the reintroduction of the Colorado Cutthroat trout into the Ferron drainage. A meeting will be held with the Division of Wildlife Resources at the Ferron City hall to discuss it.
Sundstrom suggested the CVSSD board meetings be held in a more comfortable location. The room where they meet is small and not conducive to having the public attend.
Dalton reported the annexation plan is behind schedule. A public hearing will need to be held as the next step.
The July 24 celebration this year is a town reunion year. The town office will have flyers made up for residents to copy and send to former residents and family members. Activities include a lawn mower race, softball games, horseshoe tourney, dinner, breakfast, kids games, dances, rodeo, talent show and a dunking booth where council members can be dunked.
Dalton said she had received a complaint concerning water running from open risers in the town. Emery Town has a rule about no 24 hour watering and no watering between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The next Emery Town meeting is June 8 at 6 p.m.