City Council Minutes

Thursday, January 10,2002

JANUARY 10, 2002, 4:00 P.M.

Mayor Daniel McArthur
Council Member Rod Orton
Council Member Suzanne Allen
Council Member Sharon Isom
Council Member Bob Whatcott
Council Member Larry Gardner
Council Member Gary Esplin
City Attorney Jonathan Wright
Deputy City Attorney Ron Read
City Recorder Gay Cragun

Mayor McArthur called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. He advised that today\'s discussion of water pressure and supply issues would not include a discussion of rates, and that a public hearing on this matter would be held at a later date. The pledge of allegiance was led by a gentleman from the audience, and the invocation was offered by Kevin Terry.

Authorize submission of a land and water conservation grant.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that this state and federal program grant requires a 50/50 match by the City, and if funded, will be used for the Seegmiller Park in the Little Valley area. The City will apply for the maximum amount available, but there is no guarantee how much will be awarded.

A motion was made by Council Member Orton and seconded by Council Member Isom to approve the request. Mayor McArthur called for a vote, as follows:

Council Member Orton - aye
Council Member Isom - aye
Council Member Allen - aye
Council Member Gardner - aye
Council Member Whatcott - aye

The vote was unanimous and the motion carried.

Discussion concerning water pressure and supply issues in the City.

City Manager Gary Esplin explained that between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. in the summer months there is a water pressure problem in the Little Valley area of the City, and inadequate fire flows. There is not currently the volume of water necessary to provide enough pressure to this area. The area affected includes Spyglass Hill, the Foothills, and homes along 2450 South, all south of the river. Mr. Esplin explained that the City drilled three new wells in the Gunlock area which would provide 5,000,000 gallons a day and was ready to go on-line, but then experienced a problem obtaining an easement from the BLM. These wells should be on line this summer, however the environmental assessment has not yet been done. Barbara Hjelle is helping with the project. Once these wells are on-line and a new pump station built, the problem will be solved. It was originally thought that construction of a pump station alone would solve the problem, but after further analysis, it was decided a pump station would merely suck the water from another location and create a problem elsewhere. More resources in the system are needed, as well as storage to solve peaking problems. Long

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term, the Sand Hollow line will give the City additional time, and construction of the Quail Creek addition will solve the problem for another 10-12 years. The City is keeping current with growth, but short term must decide what to do in the summer for this problem area in Little Valley. He advised that one alternative is to limit the number of permits issued by the City to make sure that putting the West City Springs into the system and use of the east side irrigation water will be enough to solve the problem through the summer. No projects would be allowed in the area until there is enough resource available. Another alternative would be to force conservation. The last alternative would be to build a 2,000,000 to 5,000,000 gallon storage tank on City property near the replacement airport site. The City would not have to spend money to purchase land on which to locate the tank, and the cost of upsizing the line would not be lost because the line will be used for the new airport. $1,500,000 is the preliminary cost of this project.

Council Member Isom commented she felt water conservation should be mandated in addition to any other alternative used.

Mr. Esplin advised that it is proposed to move the peak to earlier in the morning, and increasing the rate structure may force some conservation. He advised that the City had planned on spending $500,000 for a pump station, but this still leaves a shortage of $1,000,000. He suggested that a certain number of water impact fees be presold to fund construction of the tank.

Council Member Orton inquired if staff was certain construction of this storage tank would solve the problem.

Mr. Esplin replied that staff was certain it would solve the problem. The tank would be filled during off-hours and used for that zone only.

Deputy Water and Power Director Phil Solomon advised the storage tank would be a short term solution, and a resource was still needed.

Council Member Gardner advised this was not a new topic of discussion in St. George, and with the effort of creative and capable people and resources in the community, every problem has been solved. He commented this will not be the last water problem in the City, but construction of this new storage tank is obviously the initial part of solving this problem. He suggested that instead of looking at one big tank so far out, staff look at the possibility of placing other tanks at strategic locations in this area of the City.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that if all went well, the new storage tank could possibly be on line by June 1.

Council Member Orton inquired if staff had considered other locations for the tank.

Mr. Esplin replied that the proposed tank location will serve a greater area and is needed in any event for the new airport. The hill upon which it is proposed to be located is the best alternative with regard to elevation and pressure. He explained that the new tanks in the Green Valley area exacerbated the pressure problem in the Little Valley area.

Council Member Gardner advised that at the time the new tanks were built in the Green Valley area, City staff was in full anticipation that the three Gunlock wells would come on line.

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City Manager Gary Esplin commented that placement of the Green Valley tanks was the right thing to do so that water could be moved around the City.

Council Member Gardner inquired if additional sites for water tanks should be looked at.

Deputy Water and Power Director Phil Solomon replied that only three to four locations on the mountain range near the replacement airport site would suit the tank with regard to elevation, and those sites were investigated. City staff even met with Washington City to inquire about joint use of one of their tanks, but they have problems of their own.

Vince Clayton inquired if use of the Green Valley tanks were necessary, and if water could be diverted to the Little Valley area for a short term solution.

Council Member Gardner replied that storage is storage, wherever it is
located, and the Green Valley tanks help to alleviate peak use. The City needs every bit of storage it now has, and should have more besides that.

Mr. Solomon commented that last summer the City experienced pressure and peaking problems on the west side of the City, and the solution was to build a tank on that side of town.

Mark Lewis advised that northern Utah has rigid guidelines for watering and suggested that serious discussions be held concerning xeriscaping.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that in the past the City has been able to refill its tanks in the early morning hours to solve problems, but as the peak was shifted to the night, the system does not recover enough to cover the daylight hours. Additional resource is needed, as well as storage. The City is also aggressively promoting conservation.

Vince Clayton advised there were a number of developers and builders who had put a lot of money into their projects in the Little Valley area not anticipating this water problem. He stated he hoped there would be some flexibility and the projects would not be stopped entirely. He suggested that each project be looked at individually. He advised that for example, he has been doing some earthwork and preparing the site, but was stopped from even doing that, even though a water connection is not needed now. He hoped a solution would be had soon and projects would not be held up until June if something can be done in the meantime.

Mr. Esplin inquired if Mr. Clayton and other developers would be willing to prepay impact fees. He suggested the problem is a City-wide problem, and that 350 impact fees be presold for projects throughout the entire City in order to move forward with the water tank project.

Carol Sapp inquired if the water impact fees would be presold at the current rate, and she was advised that they would be.

Tyler Nelson inquired if golf courses could be watered at different times.

Mr. Esplin advised that golf courses are watered with irrigation water and are not on the culinary system. He advised that some times they cannot get enough water to water all night and have to water in the day to access their shares of water. Even though this gives a bad perception, it cannot be helped.

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Ms. Nelson advised that all 70 members of the AOPC could use better sprinkling systems. She suggested that a City ordinance could take care of this problem and require separate drip systems to conserve water. She suggested use of a test project.

Georgia Barker advised that she has been working with PUDs and others, and advised that conservation efforts must have a budget. She advised she has found that irrigation systems are designed appropriately, but installed incorrectly and without drip systems. She suggested that someone be hired to inspect these systems, and a penalty be imposed for non-compliance.

Tyler Nelson suggested that future impact fees be based on the type of landscaping installed.

Milo McCowan advised that developers, for the most part, are conscientious, and standards need to be established for existing users of water, not new development. He advised there was no cure faster than a hit to the wallet, and if the City takes drastic measures and drops the minimum water usage and any excess rate severely increased, the average person will soon get creative and conserve. He suggested the City take a hard look at existing water users and impose penalties immediately to stop excess use of water.

Georgia Barker advised that landscapers are generally doing a good job; the problem is with irrigation system installation. The City should focus more on water waste and run-off.

Deputy Water and Power Director Phil Solomon advised that one of the biggest problems in water waste is automatic sprinkler timers.

An unidentified man from the audience advised that new residents are not properly trained on watering their lawns, and if they are watered properly to encourage deep roots, they don\'t have to be watered as often. He suggested use of the local newspaper to get the word out about conservation.

Council Member Whatcott advised that in the summer the newspaper published weekly conservation tips.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised the radio stations also broadcasted conservation tips.

An unidentified man in the audience commented that if the City puts some teeth into the conservation program, people will pay attention and implement them. Until the City makes it hurt enough, they will not pay attention.

City Manager Gary Esplin commented that conservation will not solve the pressure problems of today, and suggested moving forward with construction of a water tank if enough people were willing to prepay their water impact fees at today\'s rate before they are increased. The goal is to have the water tank on line by June 1.

Mayor McArthur inquired of the time frame allowed for the permit to be purchased.

Mr. Esplin replied it would be one year, with a maximum of the first 350 permits as part of an approved project.

Council Member Isom advised that the last time the City presold permits it ran into some problems. She suggested that criteria be established to prevent these problems.

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Carol Sapp inquired if the impact fees could be pre-purchased for a project anywhere within the City, and was advised this would be the case.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that he and Mayor McArthur recently met with Congressman Hansen who promised to review the Gunlock wells situation.

Council Member Orton suggested that the presold permits be valid between June 1, 2002 and June 1, 2003 so the City would be selling new permits, not ones it would sell anyway. This will also provide an incentive for a developer to buy the permits now, as the rates will be increased before June 1.

Council Member Whatcott advised this would eliminate those projects which have already received plat approval.

Council Member Gardner urged caution in issuing so many permits that it would be counterproductive to the building community.

City Manager Gary Esplin replied that is why they will be limited to 350.

Vince Clayton inquired if the pre-purchase of impact fees would lift the building permit freeze in the Little Valley area.

Mr. Esplin replied it would if the tank were on line by June 1. If the tank is not on line by June 1, mandatory rationing may be necessary.

Mr. Esplin advised that he has reconsidered the solution to the problem, and recommended that money be loaned to the Water Fund from another fund, and this way permits will not have to be presold.

Mayor McArthur suggested the City would move forward with this new plan.

Mr. Esplin advised there is still a freeze on building in the Little Valley area, but staff will try to resolve the problem within the next few weeks.

Council Member Gardner advised that Mr. Clayton would like to proceed with his earthwork.

Mr. Esplin replied that this would be fine, as long as Mr. Clayton understood he would be taking a risk and may not receive his building permit. He inquired of the City Council if they were willing to withstand the pressure created by developers who would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing their sites without building permits.

Paul Jensen inquired if he could proceed to the Planning Commission on a new preliminary plat instead of being put off a month.

City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised any approval of a plat would have to be conditional upon water availability so there not be any vested interest in the project.

Consider a funding request from DARTS.

John Williams of the Five County Association of Governments advised it has operated DARTS since October 1 and has a contract with UDOT on demonstration project funds. Recently the project has run into problems with anticipated donations not materializing and special events not occurring. He is now faced with the unpleasant task of presenting three options. The

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first option is to discontinue the program, the second is to establish a County-wide special service district, and the third is City sponsorship of the operation. Five County AOG is prohibited from operating the program past September, 2002 as it is not a taxing authority. $400,000 is available to the City from the MPO if the City is willing to take over the system and operate it as part of the general fund budget. He advised he felt the system could be operated by the City with a commitment of $100,000 along with advertising, fares, and special needs contracts and continue operating as it is now with four bus routes. Expansion would then be up to the City Council. However, Five County AOG also faces a short term problem. By January 31 DART will be $15,000 on the hole for matching funds, and an additional resource for funds is needed until June 30. He requested another $65,000 from the City, and then $25,000 per quarter thereafter and the system would be turned over to the City after September 30.

City Manager Gary Esplin verified that the City would have to provide approximately $100,000 a year to operate the program. If the City pays $100,000 by July 1, 2002, the current operation can be continued plus replacement of one bus per year. This amount is $50,000 more than budgeted this year. The City would also have to hire someone to run the program.

Council Member Gardner requested that Mr. Williams address ridership as the statistics can be misleading.

An unidentifed gentlemen from Five County AOG said there were 7000 rides in December, which equates to 4000+ paid fares.

Council Member Isom inquired what would happen to ridership if the fare were increased by $2 a ride.

Beth Cottam from Five County AOG replied that rides would decrease.

Council Member Isom advised she thought the fare should be increased.

Council Member Gardner advised he felt the opposite. It appears the biggest concern in the community is that no one is riding the buses, and if the fare were eliminated the buses would be overflowing and the community would approve of it. The City should consider this possibility in light of environmental and traffic issues.

Council Member Orton commented a problem would be created if ridership skyrocketed and those who needed to ride the buses were crowded out.

Beth Cottam advised she felt the people using the system should pay something, even if it is only 50?.

Council Member Whatcott commented that even Logan City uses the tax incentive to fund their transit system, and it would not be possible for DARTS to provide free rides.

Mayor McArthur advised that perhaps the law could be changed to allow the City of St. George to use a portion of its tax incentive for DARTS.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that without a change in the law and a new bill to allow use of the tax incentive, the City could not do so. The City could ask Senator Hickman to submit such a bill and dedicate a portion of the funds received to DARTS. However, this would take funds away from other projects.

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Council Member Allen inquired if this would be fair, as the citizens of St. George voted to use these funds for road improvements.

Mayor McArthur replied that they voted to use the funds for transportation.

Beth Cottam advised she thought transit was included in the permitted uses.

Mayor McArthur commented that DARTS was important to the community, but did not know if there was a way to keep it going.

John Williams advised he would shut down the program next Monday if the City did not fund it.

Mayor McArthur commented that if the program were shut down, $440,000 in equipment and start-up costs would be lost, and the next time these funds would be available would be in 2008.

John Williams advised that discretionary funds are only available on a six year planning cycle. He advised the DARTS program included seven buses.

Council Member Whatcott inquired if the issue was trying to save something which was ahead of its time, and DARTS may be premature in its desire to be in existence. While Mr. Williams quoted 7000 rides during the month of December, that figure may only include 500 actual riders. He advised he spoke with an individual whose 100 employees ride the bus daily. He questioned whether the City Counil would be doing something for the City, or for a small group of people.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that the City will be participating in a fundraiser in March and could, if the Council desires, designate DARTS as the beneficiary. However, the longer term question is if the City is willing to spend $100,000 this year to subsidize the program which may never pay for itself, or go to the legislature and ask if the City can change the bill and fund the program, or the program will be abandoned.

John Williams advised that any extra funds generated will be given back to the City.

Council Member Orton inquired who held title to the buses and if the City took over the project if it would gain title.

Mr. Williams replied that currently UDOT holds joint title with Five County AOG, and after a certain mileage is attained, UDOT releases itself from the title.

Council Member Gardner inquired of Mr. Esplin if he concurred with the breakdown as far as matching dollars and the MPO as presented by Mr. Williams.

Mr. Esplin replied that he did.

Council Member Whatcott advised that his calculations are double Mr.
Williams\' figure.

Council Member Isom advised that during the election she was very vocal about the City not subsidizing DARTS, but since speaking to a lot of citizens, especially senior citizens, she now feels the City should support the project.

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Council Member Orton commented that while he agreed, he was concerned about the City subsidizing a system where 80% of the ridership is being taken advantage of by a group not needing help.

Council Member Whatcott advised that after looking at the overall picture, his best guess of is that probably 300 to 500 people a month are actually riding the buses. He inquired if the City wanted to get into the business of advertising.

Council Member Isom commented she felt the fare should be increased by at least 50? a ride.

Council Member Gardner inquired of Mr. Williams if the City made a commitment concerning the fundraiser, if $65,000 would maintain the DARTS program until June 30.

Council Member Whatcott commented that there would be additional costs to taking over the system such as housing the buses, maintenance, etc. He advised that Public Works Director Larry Bulloch\'s estimate to maintain the DARTS system is $300,000 a year.

Mayor McArthur inquired of Mr. Williams if proceeds from the fundraiser would be enough to keep DARTS going for a period of time.

Mr. Williams advised he would rather have cash from the City.

Council Member Orton inquired if there would be merit in taking over the system now.

Mr. Williams replied that right now UDOT\'s contract is with the Five County AOG and it is not known whether or not this can be transferred.

Public Works Director Larry Bulloch advised that it would take City staff until the fall to make preparations to take over the system.

Council Member Gardner inquired about maintenance, housing and parking of the bus fleet.

Mr. Bulloch advised that the City\'s Fleet Manager would have to do some upgrades such as new bays and lifts to accommodate the buses at a cost of around $25,000. If this were done, the City facility would then be able to handle ten years of growth.

Mr. Williams advised that currently the buses are parked outdoors on Five County AOG property, and mechanic services are being contracted out.

Council Member Gardner suggested dedicating proceeds from the fundraiser to DARTS, but urged caution with the numbers. He advised the issue was larger than just numbers and more discussion was needed. He stated that while he hated to see DARTS come to an end, neither did he want to prolong a boondoggle, but if the service is good for the community and the City has already invested funds in it, it would be nice to support it until a solution is found.

Lori Puchlik-Kocinski from the Chamber of Commerce advised that while the timing for DARTS may be premature, the City should be looking at the long term things that are valued, such as clean air and a solution to traffic problems. The people who are using the service are high-need people, and it is difficult to obtain a grant once it is lost and the program is unsuccessful.

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She stated that UTA is not going to be excited to give the City a grant for a program which was once unsuccessful, and long term the City needs mass transit. She stated the City\'s Economic Development Plan promotes mass transit and she would like to see the City study it in the next six months. She encouraged the City to save the program.

Council Member Whatcott stated that while he did not disagree with Ms. Puchlik-Kocinski, does the City want to put $200,000 into something whose time is not yet here.

Council Member Gardner stated he thought there were ways to drop this figure down to $100,000, and his family recently rented a DARTS bus to celebrate his mother\'s birthday. He suggested the City approach the legislature for a change in use of the tax incentive.

Assistant to the City Manager Marc Mortensen advised that the fundraising event has been rescheduled for March 7, 8 and 9, and that while United Way originally committed $50,000 for DARTS, it is not known if they will honor this amount.

Finance Director Phil Peterson advised that the City can again send flyers in the utility billings requesting donations for DARTS. He also suggested use of a survey to determine support of the public.

Council Member Orton commented that if the City spends $200,000 on this project, it will have to generate revenue some place else. He commented it would not be a bad idea to see what the citizens and groups such as the Homebuilders Association and Chamber of Commerce have to say.

Council Member Gardner commented that if the City takes over the system, it cannot continue as a huge black hole, but much can be resolved through diminished service until such date and time as it can be expanded into full use. He made a motion to approve $15,000 as matching funds for DARTS, along with \"x\" amount of money monthly, with the assumption that other money will be found. The City is not committing to $65,000 now. The motion was seconded by Council Member Allen.

Council Member Whatcott commented he hoped that months from now City Council Members would not use the excuse that they had to continue funding DARTS simply because of funds already expended.

Council Member Gardner advised he would agree to that. He stated that a final decision on DARTS would be made prior to the end of the budget year.

Council Member Orton advised he also would agree with Council Member Whatcott\'s statement, and if DARTS is not feasible, he will vote against it.

Council Member Allen suggested that Five County AOG provide the City with more information on DARTS.

Mayor McArthur called for a vote, clarifying that the motion made was for matching funds in the amount of $15,000 and thereafter funding on a month-to-month basis through June, 2002, as needed. The vote was as follows:

Council Member Orton - aye
Council Member Allen - aye
Council Member Isom - aye
Council Member Gardner - aye
Council Member Whatcott - aye

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The vote was unanimous and the motion carried.

Public Works Director Larry Bulloch distributed information on drainage fees.

A motion to adjourn was made by Council Member Isom and seconded by Council Member Orton. The meeting then adjourned.

Gay Cragun, City Recorder