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Front Page » December 14, 2004 » Local News » PRWID Consider Price Request, Wellington Billing Discrepancy
Published 3,412 days ago

PRWID Consider Price Request, Wellington Billing Discrepancy


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

A request to extend the city's redevelopment area in downtown Price by five years was voted down last year at a meeting of local stake holders. But a second request for an extension before the redevelopment area expires early next year will have a hearing in the immediate future.

Last Tuesday, the Price River Water District received a request from the agency's representative to that meeting, Dave Anderson, to denote how the board wanted to vote on the issue.

Ever since last year's decision in the matter, discussion about the extension has gone on between Price officials and the various groups that voted on the proposal.

The use of redevelopment areas is a common occurrence in many cities

The local city currently has two redevelopment areas, one in downtown Price and one in east Price.

Redevelopment areas usually have a set lifespan in which property taxes paid at the location are granted from all the taxing agencies to the redevelopment fund.

The redevelopment agency money is awarded to businesses within the area for improvements or to help new businesses to open.

In the matter of the downtown Price redevelopment area, a number of local taxing agencies are involved and approved the original decision in 1980.

A redevelopment agency generally has a life of 25 years and Price's designation on the downtown area expires in May of next year.

The taxing agencies included in the area are Price city, Carbon County, Carbon School District, Carbon Water Conservancy District, the state school board and PRWID.

If Price's redevelopment agency is extended with full or partial tax assessment, the entities will have money taken from the tax receipts for the years in question.

At the meeting on Tuesday, the board was advised that PRWID has four choices concerning the decision.

The members could vote to deny the city's request, vote to fund the extension at 100 percent, vote to fund it at 75 percent or support the redevelopment agency in terms of extending the area, but withhold PRWID's portion of the tax revenues.

Because extending the area by five years is treading on new ground, Price recently attempted to get a legal opinion on the situation from the Utah Attorney General's office. However, the city was told there would be no opinion issued.

"They basically told us that we should form out own opinion locally," said Nick Tatton, community administrator for Price, Monday morning in a phone interview.

Consequently, the extension decision is up to the local taxing entities.

"I am sure that neither the school district nor the conservancy district will support the extension," pointed PRWID board member Tom Matthews.

Board member and Wellington Mayor Karl Houskeeper had another problem with extending the redevelopment agency's lifespan.

"Later in this meeting, we are going to be considering raising taxes for the district, yet here we are thinking about sacrificing some of what we collect to this," said Houskeeper. "My problem is that I have feelings both ways on this."

The PRWID staff presented the costs to the water improvement district should the board members support the funding options.

At 100 percent, the cost to PRWID during the five-year period would be $35,217. Funding Price's redevelopment area at 75 percent would cost $26,413.

Matthews made a motion for the board to support the Price redevelopment district, but to give the agency no funding.

All of the PRWID board members in attendance at the meeting voted to pass Matthews' motion, except Betty Wheeler, Price city's representative on the panel. Board member Keith Cox was not present at last Tuesday's meeting.

In a second matter dealing with money, assistant PRWID manager Jeff Richens presented the board with the water improvement district staff's study on billing discrepancies involving Wellington city.

"We have now resolved the billing problems that we had with Wellington and I have spoken with their city manager about it," stated Richens. "The billings in question have been taken care of."

However, Richens indicated that Wellington city still owes a balance of $195,613.56 to PRWID.

The money is owed for water and sewer services the district has provided to the city for the last eight months.

Of the total, Wellington owes $91,018 for water and $104,595.56 for sewer services.

"I am wondering - are these being paid down?" asked Helper's representative to the board, Tony Gonzales.

"We have had payments - some have been minimal," replied Richens. "The payments have not been keeping pace. But what are we going to do? I have neither a stick nor a carrot to collect this money."

The board then turned to Housekeeper to explain the situation his city is in and he said that they are working on it and that they will be catching up with money from the general fund. However, he also said that it's "not going to happen tomorrow" either.

But not all the members of the board were satisfied with that answer.

"I would like to see Wellington come up with some kind of payment plan to show how they are going to catch up," said Matthews.

Gonzales was the most critical of the board members about the situation, expressing his empathy with Wellington's situation, but also saying that he felt things needed to be equal too.

"We had to buy water from PRWID this last year (because of a failed water supply line the city had to replace)," he stated. "But we had to pay our bill. I don't think this situation is fair for other entities."

According to the staff the last payment on the account was made in November and that served to bring March 2004 current.


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