East Carbon City considers land sale, public safety policy
During the regularly scheduled council meeting on May 13, East Carbon City officials forwarded land purchase negotiations to the planning and zoning committee.
The East Carbon officials also considered implementing a sizable increase concerning the municipality's public safety contract with Sunnyside city.
East Carbon City was approached by Paul Candelaria, representing Vital Energy, for the purpose of buying 222.56 acres of property to the east of the city and to the south side of Utah State Road 123.
According to Candelaria, the property would be used to construct a multi-million dollar bio-diesel plant adjacent to Pacific Central and with the ability to take advantage of the existing rail spur.
Candelaria stressed that their was a time table associated with the project and that the company was hoping to see approval of the sale within 30 days.
"This is a big chunk of revenue and our city has been working pretty hard to make it happen," said Mayor Orlando LaFontaine. "One thing we don't want to do is stall this project, the land is split in a quirky manner so planning and zoning will have to work on that but I believe this project will be essential to the city's economic future."
City officials voted to draft a letter of intent to Vital Energy stating their approval of the project and then send the company to the town's planning and zoning committee for further approval.
According to city councilmember Joyce Caviness, when the planning and zoning committee met, local officials approved the sale of approximately 150 acres of the city's property on the south side of the train tracks.
Vital Energy's initial request apparently included city property on the north side of Utah State Road 123.
"We approved the sale of the south property and will send it to the council for formal approval but decided that the land to the north would be kept by the city because it is the only area we have for small business development," said Caviness.
Caviness reported that the Vital Energy plant will be built with four phases in mind. The initial phase will employ between 15-20 individuals at the bio-diesel plant with many more working on the project's construction.
The building of the plant will be overseen by Pacific Central. By the end of the fourth phase, company officials have said the plant could create as many as 200 jobs.
City officials are now workinf to set up a pubic hearing in the matter, which must proceed the final sale of the land.
During the same meeting, East Carbon officials discussed the city's current arrangement with Sunnyside concerning public safety.
"The city is running in the red on the current public safety contract," said mayor LaFontaine. "What we are going through is an increase in everything from gas to wages to 911 communications and we can't keep absorbing these costs on our own."
The mayor then recommended that Sunnyside be asked to pay for the cost of one of East Carbon's four officers. Sunnyside currently pays $32,500 per year for police protection and LaFontaine recommended that the city up that number to approximately $80,000 per year.
East Carbon currently budgets for about $400,000 per year for police protection.
"It is unfair for the residents of East Carbon to have to pay for police protection in another city," said LaFontaine.
The council then considered charging a fee that would take into account the two cities' population and then dividing the cost.
That figure came close to a $100,000 bill for Sunnyside, an amount Caviness objected to.
"I think we should be reasonable about this, they are not going to be okay with going from $3,200 a month to $8,200 a month. They won't pay it. They will get mad and it will be just like last time we tried to up the contract. They won't pay it and then we will have to take them to court. Do we really want to do that?"
According to city officials, the last time they tried to raise costs, Sunnyside developed their own police force that did not last and then the cities had to go back to the negotiating table.
The municipalities' current four-year contract will expire on July 1.
"We just went to a meeting where the cost of our 911 service went up considerably and we had to get our police salaries up to snuff with the rest of the county, we offer 24/7 police protection and there is nothing wrong with asking a fair price for it," said LaFontaine.
After further debate the councilmembers had their attorney draft a letter asking Sunnyside to consider a raise from $3,250 a month to $6,500 a month for police protection.