Helper council hears about modernization
Helper City's infrastructure needs to be modernized, according to Mayor Dean Armstrong. In 2002, a study was undertaken to determine the condition of the city. New curbing and gutters as well as water lines, electrical lines, and repaving of streets are needed. Several roads in Helper could be improved if the road base was scraped off and the road was laid fresh instead of continuing to lay on top of existing pavement. Long- term plans are needed to update city utilities and other services. according to to Armstrong. As mayor he wants to get the ball rolling, so these upgrades can take place in the near future. Plans are needed before Helper will be able to apply for grants and other available monetary aid.
Planning costs will be close to $100,000. Mapping is a significant cost, but there are recent RUS 1-meter scale mapping for FEMA that are already completed. Armstrong said, in relation to this topic, "If you're not moving forward, you are falling behind."
Salinity control in the river and dust, like the issues in Nine Mile Canyon, are also problems the city currently faces. The council must originate plans for integrated waste water, roads, curbs and gutter. A previous power plan to upgrade the electrical infrastructure was created, but Armstrong hasn't seen it. He noted that land use ordinances took four years to complete, but he doesn't know if these problems can continue to remain unaddressed for that long.
Armstrong noted that green space maintenance is important, because that is what the public sees on a daily basis. Armstrong wants to create one position to manage the green spaces, and another position to focus on the problem. He believes that establishing two positions would yield better results than if separate parties tried to coordinate their efforts.
Councilman Brandon Wise was chosen to head recreation and community events. He suggested that results might be better if two people were to work together on these events, citing the probability that two minds can come up with better ideas and bounce ideas off each other. Councilman Robert Bradley volunteered to help in these responsibilities with Wise.
Armstrong brought up a point about existing committees. He noted that some members have been serving on these boards for a long time. He is not dissatisfied with the current service being provided, but pointed out that rejuvenating interest is vital to the committees' continuing success and that adding new people to the committees would add new interest and ideas.
There have been talks of consolidating little league into a Carbon County recreation board. Every board member expressed dissatisfaction with that proposal and noted that Helper needs to stay vigilant so the games continue to be held in Helper. Councilman Wise was appointed to help with this issue.
ECDC, which Helper contracts with to provide waste disposal services, is going to raise rates of residential customers. Last year, the rates decreased because of the amount of garbage collected in 2008. In 2009, tonnage collected dropped below the price reduction point, so rates are going to increase from 8.65 to 9.00. Tom Paluso informed the council about this and noted that because city has a contract, no action can be taken, although the contract states that if the tonnage rises, the rates will again decrease. The rates float, so every year the rates may vary. Collection went from 400,000 tons in 2008 to 180,000 tons in 2009.
The council also discussed the curbing issue the city faces. Several streets don't have sidewalks or curbing and existing sidewalks need to be fixed or replaced. The policy currently mentions replacing and repairing, but Armstrong wants to include new construction. Work will be done on a first come, first served basis. Residents will be required to obtain two bids. The contractors will work for residents, but the city will reimburse the costs. Residents won't be allowed to complete the work themselves, because it might return to being a city responsibility if their sidewalk cracks, etc.
Sen. Bob Bennett invited Helper to attend the rural business conference. The council agrees on the fact that Helper needs to get its name out there. They mentioned that Helper is a good place for starter families, has good highway access, is business- friendly, and offers good schools. In considering materials to use at the conference, they mentioned that resources at the museum could make an interesting display. At the two-day conference, Helper needs to present a united front. Carbon County could benefit from the added exposure and various cities around here are already planning on attending and sponsoring booths.
The issue of rights of ways again arose. om Boyack, a local land owner, and the city are trying to figure out a deal that would allow Helper to use his land for water lines.
Don Jackson filed a lawsuit against Helper City in regards to the water issue that both parties are having. The council pointed out that the agreement is outdated and needs to be updated. The lawsuit will force both parties to come to the table, per se, to figure out which actions will benefit both parties the most. Currently, there are questions as to regulations set forth by the federal and state governments which cover the issue of ground and surface water. The city provides water to sheep-watering troughs owned and operated by Jackson. The council is determining the best way to provide water to these. There is currently a spring which will gravity feed the troughs, if a cistern is put in place to gather water. The city hired an outside attorney to deal with this litigation. Ironing out the creases in the contract was the main point of conversation.
Emery Telcom was also on the agenda in regard to their franchise rights. They plan on instituting IPTV, a digital television company to rival Dish network and Direct TV. Armstrong posed the question as to whether there is a downside to granting the franchise agreement. Competition is healthy for business, he stated. Emery Telcom is also trying to lease space on city cell towers for their new cell phone service plans.
Key Bank has been renting property adjoining their parcel. Their rental agreement expired last year. The city wants to either raise rates on the property or sell it. Key Bank has been reluctant to accept the offers and discussion is taking place.
The council also addressed training that is needed for various government positions, including fire and police personnel. The city wants to have everyone be able to become up to date on required training and also anything that may interest them. Armstrong also wants Helper police to reengage activity with Carbon metro drug task force in an effort to curtail the city's drug problem.
It was pointed out by a resident that there are rural development grants that are not required to be shovel-ready. $36,000 is available, but Helper would qualify for $30,000 for infrastructure development, which would greatly help Helper in their effort to modernize their utilities.
Armstrong selected council member Kirk Mascaro as mayor pro tempore.