East Carbon discusses training local emergency response team
The East Carbon City Council met Tuesday and the first item of business was a resolution to set fees for rental of the city's centennial building and parks.
At the Jan. 24 meeting, Mayor Orlando LaFontaine read a draft of the proposed resolution.
The resolution would set fees and deposits for users of the city facilities. The guidelines would also set rules for scheduling, cleanup and conduct.
Members of the council and residents in the audience had questions regarding the resolution.
The questions included:
The policing of events.
Cleanup procedures and expectations.
Management of keys.
The need to upgrade and better manage furnishings at the bicentennial building.
Whether community non-profit organizations could use the facilities for free.
After some discussion, the council voted to table the resolution until the questions can be addressed.
The council will re-visit the issue at a future meeting.
Introducing an unrelated matter, Councilmember Darma Lopez reported that she and the mayor recently attended a meeting of the local emergency planning committee.
The LEPC is a program sponsored by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Lopez said the city needed to set up an emergency response team that incorporated the police, fire department and individual citizens, with the mayor as director.
The councilmember explained that grant money is available to help with such a project and any resident could be trained as an emergency responder through the FEMA program.
Lopez said Carbon County is willing to help pay the costs for citizens to travel to the training and certify through testing.
Darrell Valdez from the East Carbon fire department told officials and residents assembled at the meeting that the fire department and police have already been certified with the training.
LaFontaine urged East Carbon citizens to participate in the program. The mayor said the next training session is scheduled in Green River on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24.
LaFontaine asked residents interested in attending the training to contact the city council. The officials will check on the reimbursement of travel costs.
Lopez will also check on the possibility of having a future training session slated in East Carbon City if enough interested citizens are willing to participate.
In another matter, Councilmember Darlene Kuhns explained that the fire department had conducted a drill in the east end of town to check on response times and equipment compatibility.
Kuhns and Valdez said the test indicated that the eastern end of the city could be adequately served by the fire department.
But there were several items that needed attention. First, a fire hydrant in the area needs to be raised higher out of the ground. Another issue is that a few hydrants have been partially blocked by fences in recent years.
Kuhns said the fire department will conduct a hydrant survey of the entire city and make recommendations to the council. She said that each fire hydrant will be opened for a short time to test the hydrant. She said that citizens should expect some dirty water when this happens and the city would give citizens adequate warning before the open hydrant tests are performed.
Kuhns also reported that she and mayor LaFontaine will attend a meeting on February 3 to discuss the ongoing re-structuring of city dept for water and sewer loans. The city borrowed heavily in recent years to improve the water and sewer infrastructure after receiving a pledge from the East Carbon Development Corporation of .50 cents per ton as a tippage fee at the landfill. The projections were that the city would receive approximately one million dollars per year in revenues from ECDC for many years. That expected revenue was earmarked for the repayment of the debt. However, ECDC has fallen on hard times in recent years, and tippage fees have fallen to $300,000 or less, leaving the city with a debt crisis. The mayor and city council are in the process of restructuring the loans.
Kuhns explained that in a past meeting, the water board had agreed to accept a $5.50 per month increase in city sewer fees to help pay the debt. "They originally wanted us to raise the monthly fee by an additional $39.00," she said. "We were lucky to get it down as far as we did." She also explained that the water board had reduced the interest on the loans from 5% to 2 Ã¯Â¿Â½ percent.
Kuhns and LaFontaine will meet with the water board and the Community Impact Board again on Feb. 3 and present a case to have the percentage of interest reduced to zero. She explained that the city is in crisis. "We are not in default, but we could be," she said. "We are doing all we can." She explained that the city had raised water and sewer rates by 200% in six months, and the new $5.50 charge would raise the residential monthly fee to $39.50. She said she knew the increased fee would be tough for a lot of people, but it was the best they could do for now, and she asked the board to approve the increase.
Councilman Joe Manley reported that stats from the county recreation board showed that more than 50% of East Carbon youth had been involved with the county recreation programs in 2005. "We've had 33 kids in wrestling and 25 in basketball this winter," he said. He also reviewed developments with the planned upgrading of the BMX track and asked for community volunteers to help with the BMX track and races.
Councilwoman Joyce Caviness reported on efforts to find a suitable place for truckers to park their big rigs while living in town. The council discussed the need to keep the trucks off the city streets while at the same time trying to accomodate those who make a living driving the big rigs. Several possibilities were discussed, but no solution was found. The council agreed to table the item and include the city planning and zoning board in the process of selecting a suitable site.
Councilman David Maggio was absent from the meeting, but secretary Liz Marquez read a letter that Maggio had addressed to the council. In the letter, Maggio said that he had met with Utah Department of Transportation Officials, and they had assured him that they were aware of the problems with state road 123 between Highway 6 and East Carbon. He said the road department will be installing reflective tape strips at the highway 6 turnoff, and the road is scheduled for a complete surface overlay in July of 2007.
Maggio also apologized for stating at a previous meeting that two barrels of cyanide had been inadvertently placed in the ECDC landfill. The barrels were actually arsenic he said, and he was sorry for any undue concerns his remarks might have caused. He said that ECDC officials told him that the two barrels of arsenic have been found, and the open cell at the landfill is in the process of being re-sealed. He said that the foul smell from the landfill would be gone very soon.
Mayor LaFontaine then told the council that trucks from Bronco Energy had been filling water tanks from fire hydrants in Columbia, and by a misunderstanding, had assumed that the water was free for their use. Lafontaine said that he had spoken with company officials, and they were working up a report to the city on the amount of water used, and would pay the city for the water.
Council members stated that during the summer of 2005, Bronco Drilling had agreed to pay the city an industrial rate of $1.25 per thousand gallons used. The council asked for a review of the minutes from the earlier meeting regarding the agreement. LaFontaine said that he was sure the whole thing was simply a mistake, and the company has agreed to fully reimburse the city.
Lafontaine also said that he wanted to encourage people to attend the town meeting scheduled for February 6 with the American Federation of Teachers. School board issues will be discussed.
The mayor also said that the city is planning a Cinco de Mayo celebration for the fifth of May. Ruby Cordova will be in charge of the event, which will be held in the city park. Sponsors for the event are being sought, and the mayor suggested that the celebration could be a lot of fun and a major event for the community. The Cinco de Mayo celebration in Salt Lake City is becoming bigger and more popular every year, he said, and no one is holding a similar event anywhere in southern or eastern Utah. "We have a lot of people with Mexican ancestry in the area," he said. "And if we do this right, it could become a major event for the community."