East Carbon officials, development director discuss local economy
At the East Carbon City Council meeting on Dec. 13, the first item of business was an appearance by county economic development director Delynn Fielding.
Fielding reminded the board that it was time to apply to the state for a renewal of the city enterprise zone designation.
The designation offers certain tax incentives and benefits to businesses qualifying for participation in the program and locating within the enterprise zone boundaries, pointed out Fielding.
Businesses already in the enterprise zone also benefit from the program and the designation does not interfere with normal commercial or industrial uses of the land within the city. Enterprise zone designation is a way to retain and recruit businesses to the city.
Participating cities must apply to Utah for the enterprise zone program, be approved, and maintain the designation by complying with certain state standards. A renewal application, review and approval are required every five years.
After a short discussion, a resolution was passed authorizing the mayor to submit a letter requesting a renewal of the East Carbon's enterprise zone designation.
Mayor Dale Andrews asked Fielding to give the council an update on economic health and outlook for East Carbon City and the county in general.
Fielding gave a summary of his assessment with supporting facts and figures.
He told the council that the office of workforce services currently has a list of 106 unfilled jobs in the county. Retail sales have increased more than 30 percent in the past two years. The unfilled jobs and increasing retail sales are indicators of a healthy economy.
Fielding said a recent questionnaire sent to 500 businesses in Price city showed that 60 percent of respondents felt that business was better in 2005 than last year.
Fielding then gave the council an update of possible future economic development in the county. He talked about the ongoing gas field developments and told the council that there has been talk of possible coal gasification efforts in the area. Mining applications are being reviewed for a few possible new coal mines in the area, and a few new businesses have moved into the area.
Overall, Fielding gave a very optimistic and positive summary of his expectations for the future job market and economic development in the county. His remarks were well received, and some council members joined him in the discussion.
The mayor then told the board that an inspection by government environmental people had identified a problem with the city's waste oil tank. The city has a waste oil drop-off tank where citizens can leave used oil. Andrews said that the government wants the tank moved to the city shop where better oversight is possible.
The council debated the issue for a short time. They agreed to move the tank and then set a new time for when citizens can drop off used oil. The schedule will be posted.
Ray Burdick then appeared before the council with a request to purchase land from the city. Burdick keeps livestock and requested that the city sell him approximately two acres that adjoin his property.
Councilwoman Joyce Caviness told Burdick that city water lines ran through the property and city access would be a major concern. She also said that the proposed ATV trail under construction in the county would pass through or very near the property.
Burdick told the council that he would be happy to accept an easement to the city as a condition of the sale. He also said that the boundaries of the property could be adjusted to accommodate the ATV trail. Council members agreed.
The city council approved the sale in principle without a resolution. The sale is contingent upon an on-site inspection of the property by Burdick and members of the council, a formal land survey, and the necessary right-of-way issues being resolved. The proposed sale will be addressed again at the next city council meeting.
Linda Andrews then addressed the board and asked that her family be given an official document that grants her family access over city property to land the family owns behind their place of residence. She explained that for years the family has used an old city road to access sheds behind her home. She asked for some assurance that the family could continue to use the road in the future. The council granted her request and will draft a formal letter.
The council then passed a resolution approving and amending an agreement with the Utah Local Governments Trust, an insurance provider.
The focus of the meeting then turned to council member reports. Councilwoman Caviness reported that the brown field cleanup at the old Rasmussen property was still not complete and that a recent inspection had determined that more testing needed to be done before a letter of approval would be forthcoming. She said that government inspectors would do the testing at their expense and she was hopeful that the project would be completed soon.
Councilwoman Darlene Kuhns thanked everyone for supporting the community Christmas decoration day. She said that many people participated and donated time and decorations. She expressed special thanks to members of mayor Andrews' family who donated a large Christmas tree from the Fausett Christmas tree plantation in Gordon Creek. She also reminded everyone that Santa Clause would be riding the city fire truck and giving candy to children in the community beginning at 10 a.m. on Sunday, December 18. She asked that city police escort Santa to help with public safety and traffic control.
Councilwoman Darlene Lopez reported that candy for Santa Clause had been purchased and that she was in the process of selecting small gifts for widows in the community. There followed a good-natured discussion about the merits and joys of various kinds of Christmas candy. The council was divided in their preferences and tastes. Lopez told the council that the decision was hers' to make and her selection of the type of candy was final and binding.
Councilman Dave Maggio reported that it is time to remind everyone that cars must not be parked on city streets during the winter months to accommodate snow removal. He reminded everyone that the city has an ordinance to that effect and he asked citizens to comply. He said that he had spoken with county commissioners about some needed road improvements near the community, and he asked for better citizen cooperation at the city gun range. He said that trash is becoming a major problem at the gun range and he asked that citizens do a better job of cleaning up after themselves. He also said that he had received a letter from the Utah Department of Transportation about how to apply for funding for a bridge for the new ATV trail.
Maggio then addressed some concerns about the recently completed Sunnyside Junction - Highway 6, intersection. The council was in agreement that the yellow lines extend too far to the east and create a confusing situation when people try to make a left turn onto the East Carbon road in the dark. There is no lighting at the intersection. "The lines go too far to the east," Maggio Said. "You're almost to Green River before you realize that you missed the turn." He said that the situation is dangerous because when a person goes past the turn, they must then swing very wide across the oncoming traffic lane to make it back to the intersection. Councilwoman Kuhns said that she was very surprised that the Highway Department didn't install more reflectors at the dark intersection. The council agreed to contact the state people about fixing the problems.
Councilman Joe Manley told the board that ECDC had given the city a check for $1000 for their sub for Santa program. Council members expressed their gratitude. Manly also said that Decker's Bicycle Shop was willing to help the city with the BMX track. He said that Decker's is willing to send a crew in the spring to help with the track. Manley said that the city needs volunteers to monitor the track evenings and on weekends during the summer. He explained that currently, the only viable BMX track in Carbon County is the one in Price, and with some community help, the track in East Carbon could be brought up to the same standard. The council agreed to support the BMX track.
Mayor Andrews then reported on a recent meeting he and councilwoman Kuhns had attended with state officials regarding city debt payments. East Carbon City borrowed heavily in 1996 for major water and sewer updates. The payback of the loans was expected to come from taxes and fees collected from ECDC, which eventually was agreed to be $1.00 per ton on waste deposited at the East Carbon facility. The revenue generated was expected to be millions over the life of the landfill. However, recent cutbacks and economic hard times for ECDC has put East Carbon city in a financial bind. The mayor and councilwoman Kuhns met with state officials to restructure the loans to better meet the new reality.
Andrews reported success for the city. He told the council that city officials still must meet with three separate funding agencies separately, but that a deal had been worked out. He said that interest on the loans had been reduced from 5.5% to 2.5%, which would save the city a good deal of money. He and councilwoman Kuhns reported that originally, the Department of Environmental Quality people had wanted the city to raise their sewer rate to $39 per month to payback the loans. But, after some discussion, they were able to accomplish their aims and raise the city sewer rate to only $15 per month, a $5.50 per month increase. Andrews and Kuhns both told the council that they were happy with the way the meeting went. Andrews complimented Kuhns for her excellent negotiating skills.
At the conclusion of the meeting, council members presented Mayor Andrews with a small gift that they had paid for themselves, and thanked him for his 6 and one-half years of service as city mayor. The new mayor will be sworn in after the first of the year. The next meeting of the East Carbon City Council is scheduled for December 27.