County delays acting on East Carbon, Sunnyside fire coverage proposals
Forward movement on the East Carbon-Sunnyside new public safety building stalled a bit at last Wednesday's Carbon County Commission meeting.
An agenda item to approve a new fire contract with both cities was put on hold when only one representative from Sunnyside showed for the Nov. 21 discussion. Commissioners indicated they had expected to hear both proposals Wednesday.
"I thought this was supposed to be from both of you," said Commissioner Mike Milovich to Shari Madrid, who came from Sunnyside's fire department.
Madrid indicated that she had no idea what East Carbon's proposal was, but told the commission that Sunnyside was seeking $5,000 annually to provide the county with fire services.
East Carbon's Mayor Orlando LaFontaine said Friday that there may have been a little misunderstanding about the timing of going before the Carbon County commissioners.
"We wanted to have the attorney review all the documents first," said LaFontaine.
He added that East Carbon had also expected to appear in front of the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board to finalize the $1.9 million in funding for the joint public safety building.
The CIB funding includes a zero-point interest $300,000 bond that both cities will be required to pay back during a 30-year period.
As it were, the payments will amount to $5,000 per year per city, the same amount that LaFontaine said East Carbon will be seeking from the county for providing fire services to the unincorporated areas.
Without LaFontaine to clarify what East Carbon would be seeking, Commissioner Bill Krompel proposed that the discussion of the fire contracts be postponed until either the next board meeting Dec. 12 or until a special session could be arranged.
"I want to make sure what East Carbon will be asking for," said Krompel on Friday afternoon. "I want to get all three parties to sit down in the same room."
While the fire contracts are a separate issue from the public safety building, which will house the Sunnyside and East Carbon fire departments and the ambulance service, they appear intertwined as the contracts will provide both cities with the annual revenue to repay the bond.
"We really want to help out those communities," said Krompel.
In addition to fire service contracts that will cover the bond costs, the county donated the land for the building.
"The county has been so gracious, we really appreciate all the support they have given us," said LaFontaine.
According to the mayor, the East Carbon council members aren't 100 percent behind the project and have made moves to block it.
"It's been a battle," said LaFontaine.
Differences have also arisen between the two cities as to where the building should be located.
East Carbon residents spoke out, in summer time city council meetings, about their desire for the facility to be erected in their town and against the site provided by the county.
Barbara Robinett, an East Carbon resident and an emergency medical technician, decried the location at the junction of Utah Highways 123 and 124 as "not safe."
In addition, the formation of a committee to oversee the project caused some pause among the city leaders.
Sunnyside Mayor Bruce Andrews reportedly objected to the possibility of the committee interfering with the business of the city.
Eventually, however, differences were ironed out and a seven-person advisory board was formed.
The board includes the mayors of East Carbon and Sunnyside, one resident from each city, one council member from each city and a county representative.
"The board was put together to get the building built," said LaFontaine. "This provides a neutral team of people."
The issues dividing the cities have slowly been resolved and it appears that the joint project is on its way to fruition.
"You need to order the title (for the property) and give it to the CIB," Milovich told Madrid at the Wednesday commission meeting. "In fact, I don't remember ever signing a deed."
When finished, the public safety building will house both East Carbon and Sunnyside's fire departments and the ambulance service.
Despite having separate departments, Madrid pointed out that both cities respond to any fire no matter if its East Carbon or Sunnyside. It appears the size of the departments and the number of certified firefighters in each make the cooperation a necessity.
Sunnyside currently has two certified firefighters and East Carbon has four.
"You have to have a minimum of four certified personnel to go into a structural fire," said LaFontaine.