East Carbon citizens oppose withdrawing from joint agreement
|East Carbon residents file in early to get a seat at the July 31 special council meeting. Local officials once again re-visited the issue of honoring the interlocal agreement East Carbon has entered into with Sunnyside city regarding a public safety building. |
Local citizens packed the East Carbon City Council chambers during a special meeting on July 31.
The session was called by councilmembers to discuss and vote on East Carbon's possible withdrawal from a joint public safety complex funding venture with Sunnyside.
The two east county cities have been in negotiations regarding a funding application for the joint safety complex for nearly a year.
East Carbon Mayor Orlando LaFontaine informed the public that the council had called the special meeting.
After a brief opening discussion, East Carbon Coucilmember Joyce Caviness motioned to withdraw from the previously approved interlocal agreement the city negotiated with Sunnyside.
"I have spent hours and weeks studying the public safety building and I truly cannot find enough ways that East Carbon will benefit from its continued participation in this funding venture," stated Caviness. "Therefore, I would like to motion that we have our attorney send a letter to Sunnyside informing them that we, as a city, have decided to vacate the interlocal agreement."
"I would further motion that we decide as a council to send a letter to the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board stating that we as a city will not seek any funding for our fire department and that we fully support Sunnyside in their mission to obtain a public safety building," continued Caviness.
According to LaFontaine, East Carbon's support of a public safety building in Sunnyside will do little to sway or improve the chances for obtaining CIB funding for the complex.
"The CIB has told both mayors on more than one occasion that they will only fund a project that will serve both cities. They have stated that they want us to come together on this project and believe they will stick by their word. I do not believe they will fund Sunnyside alone," commented LaFontaine.
Prior to calling for a vote on the motion LaFontaine allowed for public comment. East Carbon resident and Sunnyside ambulance member Barbara Robinett was first to address the council.
Robinett has been a community catalyst for the facility and made her opinion clear to the council,
"I am a citizen of East Carbon and a member of the Sunnyside ambulance service and I am here to remind you that we are one community," she said. "We have one gas station, one groceries store, one police department, one water supply and one ambulance service. I need to let everyone know that regardless of what happens with this building both the fire and emergency services of this community will continue to serve its citizens with pride. When the CIB told us we had to come together as a community to share this building, you voted as a council and decided to accept the placement decided on by the joint board. I always thought that your word was your vote and your vote was your promise. Why are you going back on a promise you made to this community? One problem after another has slowed this board and it all comes down to sour grapes as far as I am concerned. What are you saying to the citizens of this community when you refuse to provide for their safety?"
Robinett's comments come from her continued position that the most important aspect of obtaining the public safety building is to move the ambulance service from its current location in Whitmore Canyon to a safe facility that will provide proper space for housing the vehicles.
Before further public comment, East Carbon Councilmember David Maggio challenged the validity of the motion before the council.
"Before we go any further and correct me if I am wrong or if I have entered into early senility, but both cites have already come together and made this decision," he said. "I have always prided myself on my honesty and the truth is that we voted for a seventh member of that board and she made her decision. They won, we lost and now we want to renege on the deal. Well I won't do it. I have already voted and my vote will remain the same."
The current joint public safety building board consists of the mayors of both communities, one city council member from each city, a citizen from each city and a county citizen selected by the other six members of the board. The seventh member selected was Liz Kourianos and after a great amount of research and deliberation it was her decision that finalized the proposed building location on the Circle Way property on U.S. Highway 123 in Sunnyside.
Robinett seemed to be in the majority at the special meeting as citizen after citizen stated their support for the building and disappointment with the councils continual re-examination of the issue.
"We always talk about our firemen and how they are the heroes of this community," said East Carbon resident Liz Ferguson. "Don't we owe them a building in which to conduct their affairs? But this building is more than just a fire station. It is vital that we move our ambulance and provide that department with safe housing. Their plight is a life and death situation."
Ferguson further recounted minutes from past meetings that demonstrated the council's repeated approval of the joint project.
After some additional comments councilmember Caviness stated, "I know there are a lot of strong feelings about this building but I just keep hearing the same five peoples opinion. I would really like to hear from the rest of the citizens."
Hearing her comment Mayor LaFontaine called for a raise of hands from all those who favored East Carbons continued participation in the funding venture. The majority of those present raised their hands in approval of the joint building. And when East Carbon Coucilmember Darma Lopez called for only East Carbon residents to raise their hands the majority continued to show their support.
When Mayor LaFontaine finally called for a vote on the motion before the council, the action was seconded by East Carbon Councilmember Darlen Kuhns and a vote was then taken.
When the council was polled following the vote Caviness had voted against her own action and with nay votes from fellow coucilmembers Maggio and Terry Harrison the motion was not carried. Councilmembers Kuhns and Lopez continued to stand firm in their opposition of the joint public safety structure.
East Carbon citizens also addressed the council concerning the evenings other major agenda item, misuse of city provided cell phones.
According to councilmember Kuhns the city paid over $600 for the mayor's city provided cell phone last month and it was her feeling that this amount was excessive.
Mayor LaFontaine stipulated that his cell number has been made open to the public and that being a full time mayor means that he receives citizen calls on numerous occasions daily. He further stated that this number was also the main contact line for the city's neighborhood watch program.
After voting the council did decide that the bill was excessive and that they would have to do something about the amount of time used or change the current plan the city uses.
"I have seen a growing virus infect this community over the last nine years and the virus is one of self serving among this city council," said resident Robert Warren. "More and more I have witnessed you slander one another and tonight is just another one of these self serving acts. If you have legitimate charges, including proof of said violations, then take it to our courts to get it resolved. If not then stop acting like bickering children."
Before the meetings adjournment city officials recessed for an executive session to further discuss personnel issues.