The Monticello City Council is hesitant to turn over sanitation collection to an outside agency after a June 28 work meeting. The council discussed a proposal from Baker Sanitation for service in the city.
City Manager Kelly Pehrson reported that the city would clear $29,644 per year from the Baker contract, plus a six percent franchise fee of another $7,200.
Baker offered to purchase the city equipment for $140,000 on a 10-year plan, with payments of $16,650 per year.
Pehrson said the sanitation fund pays for itself and contributes $46,170 for administration fees which would be shifted to another enterprise fund.
Pehrson added that there would still be $5,000 in landfill costs and $4,000 in employee costs. The city would also still handle billing questions, phone calls, and complaints.
Pehrson suggested that it doesn’t make sense to contract out the service, unless Baker lowers their rate or the city raises theirs. Pehrson added that there would be a $20,000 a year shortfall in 10 years when the equipment is paid off.
Pehrson said if the sanitation department is run correctly, they should save enough depreciation money over five years to pay for a new truck in cash.
Councilman Brad Randall had concerns with keeping the department in the City. “We take this sanitation fund and milk everything we can out of it. We spread employee salaries and wages out of it. We have robbed from it in depreciation to balance the general fund in the past . . . Right now we have budgeted $45,000 in depreciation saved and $42,000 profit, but I don’t see us putting anything back into sanitation other than paying the bill for a truck.”
Randall said the city should reinvest the depreciation money, purchase a new truck and sell back-up trucks. Randall suggested that it would be prudent to use the money for its intended purpose rather than leave it in an account where another council could spend it somewhere else.
Mayor Doug Allen said the savings funds are set up right for Sanitation and agreed the city should sell the non-working truck and put the proceeds in the savings funds.
Pehrson said he can appreciate Randall’s fear but said his role is to push a council to use money for what it is intended.
Mayor Allen said he does not feel they are “milking” the sanitation department and that it is set up legitimately with the wages and expenses that are being paid from it.
Allen agreed that in the past they have taken money from the fund to balance other funds and make up shortfalls. However, he added, “We aren’t doing that now. And it’s nice to have something you can dip into if you need to. It’s saved us from raising taxes before.” He added that the city has a reasonable rate for sanitation.
Langston agreed that they should sell the back-up truck while it still has some use. Mayor Allen said the council should target for a new truck in the next budget year.
The council discussed the possibility of discontinuing the recycling program. The council said there is a great deal of employee time and hauling cost associated with recycling.
Newspapers are hauled to the Moab recycling center, but they earn no money for the city. Councilman Scott Frost asked if it is possible to get another dumpster for recyclables.
Langston said a second truck and driver may be needed, as well as more carts in a different color.
Several council members said recycling is hard on such a small scale. Location is a problem due to the high cost of hauling.
The council questioned if it is financially worth it to continue the program. They discussed the possibility of allowing another entity to take over. Mayor Allen asked for a true cost assessment of the cost of the program.
City Manager Pehrson said they are trying to put one together, but it’s a difficult task. The council will put the issue on a future council agenda to determine the direction the program will go.
The council also discussed a problem with installation of new Questar gas lines on Silverstone and Oak Crest. The city owns rights-of-way from curb to curb, so Questar can’t go behind the curb because they don’t have the right-of-way. Because of this, they are threatening to cut into new roads.
Currently, the city is going door to door on the streets trying to get the five feet of right-of-way behind the curb. But if one homeowner says no, then they can’t do it. The City has told Questar that if they cut the street, they will have to chip seal the entire road upon completion but have yet to hear back from Questar.
There is concern why the city didn’t plan better to avoid cutting new streets. It was pointed out that Questar didn’t have funds for their project when the city did the streets and also thought the rights-of-way were the same as the rest of the city, where there is plenty of right-of-way behind the curb.
The city said residents need to understand that the city doesn’t have an endless budget and doesn’t know what roads they can do from year to year, so it’s hard to plan years in advance.
Councilman Craig Leavitt said, “That’s just the way it works... When it has to be cut, it has to be cut. You can plan all year long but still, things happen.”
Langston said they are doing all they can to keep streets from being cut.
In other business, the Council discussed the issue of fireworks, considering the dry conditions in the area. On the state level, the Governor’s office is formulating a plan to deal with fireworks.
Research by the city office shows that every city is doing things differently, with some taking the gamble and allowing fireworks and some isolating certain areas where they will be allowed.
The City of Monticello has not yet made a decision on the city fireworks show. They want to wait and see what happens in Blanding on July 4th and then determine if they need restrictions on Pioneer Day.
The council discussed the need for strict enforcement of any rules that are imposed, including those that are current state law, such as the 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. time for lighting and the date restrictions. The city will try to inform residents of the laws and include safety procedures.
They point out that people will be held liable and prosecuted if they start a fire thru the misuse of fireworks in the City of Monticello. State law requires that a person must be 16 or older to light fireworks in Utah, and parents will be held liable for their children’s misuse of fireworks.
The City hopes parents will help to enforce the rules with their children.