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Front Page » March 22, 2005 » Local News » Helper considers funding priorities
Published 3,851 days ago

Helper considers funding priorities

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Sun Advocate reporter

The La Salle Hotel in Helper stands across Poplar Street from the Western Mining and Railroad Museum. Pastor Jim Wright of Freedom Christian Fellowship in Price approached the city about the position of the council regarding the purchase of the building for a residential support center. The proposed facility would assist recovering addicts through a 12-step program. The council suggested that Wright seek the opinion of city residents regarding the proposal and look into the possibility of rezoning the building.

At a regular public meeting on March 17, the mayor and council of Helper considered the city's funding priorities relating to applications to the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board.

The mayor expressed his concern that since Helper will soon have two separate applications before the board, the CIB may ask them which of the two has greater priority.

A 2004 application petitioned the CIB for help to fund water tank repairs. The board suggested that the tank is old and a full replacement may be a better solution.

The city is currently conducting a study to survey for leaks in the water system and verify the need for the tank. The application is still to be considered, pending the results of the survey.

"I put a rush on the survey," said Councilmember Robert Welch. "Initially it was supposed to be done in the middle of April. I put a rush on it to be in the first of March. I've got half of it done. Ideally, I want to hurry up and get the rest of the survey done - it's not going to take that long - go back to the CIB board and present it before [the second] application is even submitted. That's the goal."

Helper City Council resolved in January to apply for funds toward a new swimming pool. The application should be filed on April 1, with the CIB reviewing the application with members of the city council in May or June. If the city's funding request for the water tank is delayed further, it could be still pending at the time funding for the pool is considered.

If Welch accomplishes his goal, the funding for the water tank could be secured in April, and the funding for the pool would be the city's only application pending review when it is considered in May or June.

Part of the funding for the proposed pool comes from a last-dollar grant of $75,000. In order for the city to keep that money, the balance of the project funding needs to be secured, either by a commitment to fund or actual dollars, before Dec. 31.

The council's resolution was to place the pool as the city's top priority on the county list for funding, but the council made no motion at that time with regard to the city's priorities for funding from the CIB.

"We're submitting an application. And eventually we're going to have to go up and defend that application before the CIB board. If they ask us, 'Is your priority for a swimming pool or for a water system?' what should our answer be?" said Mayor Joseph Bonacci.

"We've got to have a water tank. You've got to have water to put in the pool," pointed out councilmember Chuck Buchanan.

While the council made no motion to establish the city's position on the matter, members of the city council agreed that the two should have equal priority.

In unrelated matters, the council heard from Pastor Jim Wright, who wanted to know the city's position on the possibility of purchasing the La Salle Hotel to be used as a residential support center for recovering drug addicts. The council recognized that the center was a good idea, but questioned whether it was in the best interest of Helper to have it on Main Street or in the city.

The hotel is not zoned for the proposed use, and the council suggested that rezoning would be a difficult process. The council also encouraged Wright to find out how residents of the city felt about the idea.

Also, the city approved the purchase of a mower for the park in the amount of $5,000 and TASER guns for the police department in the amount of $3,000.

In another matter, the council made no decision regarding the possibility of returning $107,000 in CDBG money used for the Rio Theater. The city needs to hire three full-time employees before the end of the year or the money which the city secured 10 years ago needs to be returned.

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