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Wellington council resolves to explore city water issue options

By TOM McCOURT
Sun Advocate reporter

The Wellington council met on Nov. 9 and the main focus of the meeting was a discussion of city water and sewer issues and payments.

Wellington owes the Price River Water Improvement District more than $100,000. A payment schedule was worked out early in 2005 and Wellington agreed to satisfy the debt by January 2006.

Mayor Houskeeper began the discussion last Wednesday by reporting to the council the proceedings of the PRWID board meeting on Nov. 1.

In the meeting, PRWID voted to accept payment from Helper in the form of a temporary transfer of water shares from the city to the district. The shares are to be leased out during a period of eight or nine years to pay Helper's debt to PRWID. The debt was for emergency water purchased from the district to fill a temporary need in Helper.

Houskeeper explained the situation, how a formula had been used to calculate the Helper debt and PRWID's acceptance of the city's offer to pay using the water share option.

A lengthy discussion about the matter followed the mayor's comments. Wellington councilmembers indicated that they were not happy with what they perceived as unfairness in PRWID's billing practices.

Councilman Glen Wells said something was not right when Wellington was given only months to pay a large bill and Helper is given years to pay a small bill.

"There should be some equity in this thing," noted Wells. "If Helper can take nine years to pay, maybe we should take nine years to pay, too."

Houskeeper explained that PRWID viewed the water district's relationship with the two cities as being different.

Helper is a part-time user of PRWID water while Wellington is a full-time customer. He said he also felt that there should be more equity in PRWID's billing practices and rates.

Wells indicated that he was disappointed that a solution had not been found when Wellington officials met with PRWID board chairman Keith Cox.

Wells said he thought it was time for Wellington to consider other options regarding the city's water.

Houskeeper, a member of the PRWID board, said that he saw two options: seek litigation, or make a request to PRWID similar to the one Helper had made. He also said that PRWID is very firm in their position and he didn't think that anything the council did would make a difference.

"So let them sue us," Councilman Robert Bertola said. "Everyone should get the same deal."

Houskeeper then explained that the city's payments to PRWID are on track, but that city council members could get on the agenda to discuss the issue at the next PRWID meeting if they desired to do so.

Councilman Ed Chavez then asked if the city would be willing to hook up to the Price City water system. He said that he had approached Mayor Piccolo of Price about it and Piccolo seemed receptive.

Houskeeper said that the city did need to explore all of the options, even to the point of forming their own water system.

Bertola suggested that council members meet with Price City to explore that option.

Councilman Wells then said that it is unfortunate that most people don't understand what is going on. "We are not fighting with Helper City," he said. "We have no problems with Helper or the people of Helper. All we want is equity from the water district." He then said that he saw no sense in approaching PRWID about the matter again. "We need to explore other options," he said. He also said the council needed to talk to the city attorney about legal options.

Wells then made a motion that Wellington City actively seek other options for water service. The motion carried unanimously.

In other business, Asa Pierce and Lee Worley appeared before the council with an issue of snow removal. They said that they had both been given warnings by the city police last winter when they pushed snow from driveways onto the edge of the street. They explained that they push snow for several of their neighbors, and they wanted to know what could be done to work out an arrangement with the city.

Mayor Houskeeper said that frozen snow in the streets is a liability issue for the city and there is an ordinance against pushing snow into the city streets.

Pierce and Worley then told the council that much of the snow they were pushing was snow that city workers had bladed into their driveways when the city cleaned the streets.

Councilman Wells agreed with Pierce and Worley that there was a real problem with city snow removal. "We need to resolve this once and for all," he said. "We've talked about this forever. I have the same problems at my place."

Houskeeper then said that no decision should be made until after city workers have been contacted to see what solutions they might offer. He also asked the city recorder to provide copies of the snow removal ordinance for the board's review.

There followed a discussion of snow removal possibilities. It was suggested that snow be put in a windrow in the center of the street, alternate plowing methods be used, or other sites approved for the disposal of snow.

Wells suggested that the issue be tabled for more study. "Let's look this over and come back to the next meeting with some firm solutions," he said. The item was put on the agenda for the next meeting.

Stacy Jones, a daycare provider, then appeared before the council to ask for road signs along Hillside Drive. She explained that there are no speed limit or Children at play signs along the road, and she petitioned the city to erect some.

Houskeeper said that the city could make the signs. He also told Jones that if there was a problem with speeding, he could have the police patrol the area more frequently.

Jones said that there had been an incident in the past week that had brought the sign issue to the forefront.

The Mayor said the signs would be posted, and that Jones also had the option of filing a formal complaint against the speeder if she wished to do so. Jones declined.

In council member reports, Chavez told those assembled that a city fire truck had been taken to Salt Lake for a new engine. He also said that the volunteer fire department was down to fourteen members and there was a need to recruit another three members.

Chavez also suggested that city police be used to escort the fire department to all fire fighting calls. He explained that the city department was often called into the county and that there have been recent incidents of county residents showing hostility toward members of the fire department. "We need our officers there at least until the county officers get there," Chavez said.

There followed a discussion about city and county needs, department boundaries, and legal issues. It was decided that the county sheriff should be consulted before any decision was made about sending city police into the county.

A final item of discussion was complaints about large trucks parked along city streets for prolonged periods of time. The possibility of drafting a new city ordinance was discussed, but councilman Bertola suggested that the city meet with the offenders first. Chavez agreed to talk to the truckers to see if a solution could be reached without a new ordinance being drafted.

The board then agreed to cancel the next scheduled meeting due to the Thanksgiving holiday. The next meeting will be December 14.





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