U.S. 6 Sign, Theatre Proposals Presented to Helper Officials
The Helper council met last Thursday for the first assembly of the year with a new mayor and two new members.
The first item of business on the agenda was a proposal by Vic Stuckenschneider and Marie Davidson for the city to financially support a sign to bring customers from U.S. Highway 6 into the town's business district.
"We have been able to put together a deal with a sign company to put up a sign that will let people know about what is available in Helper about four miles east of town," Davidson told the council. "We have approached many of the businesses here in town and they have agreed to put up half the cost of leasing the sign per month and we are asking Helper city to contribute the rest."
Davidson explained that, in the past when businesses explored putting a sign up, the costs were prohibitive. But the cost that she proposed to the city council was more palatable.
"This company will put up the sign and, if we sign a lease for three years, it will only cost us $350 per month as opposed to others that have wanted $600," said Davidson. "We are asking the city to pay half of that or $175 per month."
The council discussed the proposal and agreed that a sign would be a good idea to bring traffic in from the highway. Davidson showed a couple of mock-ups for the sign which included no proprietary information, but told motorists of the services and retail opportunities available on Main Street.
The council conferred with Dale Stapley from the Utah Department of Transportation, who was at the meeting, about UDOT's intentions for signage on the road, particularly after the new overpass project is completed.
Stapley explained that UDOT could not get involved in a commercial sign such as was proposed. But services signs would probably be installed on U.S. 6.
"The problem we have with this isn't that we aren't interested," said Mayor Joe Bonacci. "It's that this is a budget item and, when the budget was set for this year, this type of expense wasn't built into that budget."
Council representatives Tony Gonzales and Kim Spradling indicated that they thought the city should look at how it could help.
After a few comments from business people, the council decided to have city recorder Jona Skerl look at the budget for available money and report to the council before the next meeting.
In another item of business, John West approached the council with a proposal.
"I am not here to ask for money," said West. "I am here to ask you to let us use the Helper auditorium for no fee so we can have a fundraiser for the Rio Theatre."
West indicated that an auction firm from Utah County has agreed to do an auction on March 9 using antiques and collectibles donated for the project by local residents.
"Moroni did a similar thing and was able to raise $13,000 for its cause," explained West. "We would not only invite local residents, but flyers would go out to every antique store in the state."
West said the auctioneer, Brad Silcox, would provide the services for free, on condition that the firm could use the auditorium without charge in the next year for a private auction.
After some discussion, the council approved the Rio Theatre fundraising idea.
In another matter, the mayor voiced concerns about the previous city council's adoption of a new fee structure for business licenses.
"According to the fee structure adopted last year, Helper's business licenses are more expensive than one in Price would be," Bonacci pointed out to the council. "I am not criticizing this move, but I just wanted you to be aware of that."
Terry Wheeler, who owns a new business in town, brought the license fee up as part of why he located in Helper.
"When I was thinking about opening a business, I actually started out to stay in Price," commented Wheeler. "But one of the factors that helped me make the decision to move to Helper was the lower business license costs."
The mayor brought up the fact that some businesses were hit harder than others by the fees.
For instance, Bonacci told the council that a medical clinic would have to pay $150 for a license and the doctor operating in the facility would also have to buy a license for $200.
The issue of rental units also came up.
The way the fees were structured last year, an owner would have to pay $10 per unit plus a business license fee.
However, a person owning any number of homes and renting the dwellings out would have to pay no such fee.
Helper officials subsequently passed a motion to revert back to the old fee structure until the council could study the situation and reach a final decision in connection with the matter.
In other business, the mayor brought up the fact that the city's personnel manual had not been revised since 1987.
A committee was formed consisting of recorder Jona Skerl, Councilman Jim Robinson, Mayor Bonacci and Helper City Attorney Gene Strate to reviewthe city's existing personnel policies and consider what could be done to bring the guidelines up to date.
The mayor also brought up the fact that the city needed to get its ordinances all in one place and see if there are any conflicting ordinances in the code.
Strate suggested that the city might want to come up with a plan to codify the ordinances.
A recent audit of the city's assets brought up the fact that the Helper has too low a level of cost as to what should be included on a formal inventory
The situation creates problems in that the city recorder must keep track of many small things on inventory which actually costs more than the items are worth.
The council decided that items of less than $500 in value should not be included on the inventory anymore.
The council discussed the problems that the Helper justice court is having with hiring a clerk.
Mayor Bonacci brought up the fact that, according to city ordinance, employees must live within the boundaries of Helper. Yet the court is having a difficult time finding anyone with the qualifications who will take the job for what it pays within the limits.
The council agreed that whoever is hired to fill the court clerk's position needs to be the best qualified candidate for the job, regardless of where the individual may live.
The council approved repairs for a police cruiser in the amount of $615.
Introducing several non-agenda items, Mayor Bonacci made tentative assignments for council members concerning city services and departments.
Bonacci propose that councilmen share the mayor pro-tem title based on the calendar, with each having two or three months in which they would be in charge should Bonacci not be available.
The tentative assignments for council members for city services include:
Kirk Mascaro- city buildings, the library and the museum.
Kim Spradling - city parks, the river parkway, cemetery and art festival.
Tony Gonzales - the city street department, planning-zoning and Helper representative on the Price River Water Improvement District board.
Robert Welch - the city water department, Helper Main Street project, planning-zoning and restaurant tax board.
Jim Robinson - the city's electrical department, utilities board and historical preservation.
The mayor will oversee the Helper administration, the city's public safety and the Rio Theatre project.
The departmental assignments will be finalized at the Jan. 27 council meeting.