Utility bills will drop, and utility payments will be easier to make in Blanding after the Blanding City Council decided to pass down savings to city residents. The decision was made at the November 22 meeting of the city council.
First, the city council voted unanimously to pass down natural gas savings to residential and business consumers in Blanding City. This means the average family will save $20 to $30 on their monthly gas bill. Businesses can expect to save up to $400.
Every five years or so, the city signs a contract to purchase natural gas. That rate has previously been $5.10. This year, Summit Energy has pre-purchased 60 percent of the city gas needs through the winter for $2.95.
Other factors, such as transportation, savings for emergencies and general repair, and operating costs have not decreased. Overall, the 42 percent decrease in the city wholesale cost will result in a 19 percent discount for Blanding City residents.
With the winter months looming, a reduced heating bill may be very welcome for city residents.
The council also eliminated fees for using credit cards to pay utility bills. This decision came at the recommendation of City Finance Director Kim Palmer.
The conversation about the recommendation was long and full of information. City Councilman Taylor Harrison pointed out that processing fees are higher for cards taken over the phone and considered just charging fees for payments made over the phone.
Kim Palmer reminded the council of the added cost of sending paper bills, the additional charges if checks are returned, and the increased difficulty in getting bills paid.
When bills are forgotten, the utilities are turned off on homes, adding cost to the city and stress to city residents.
Palmer said that taking payment over the phone and in person, without additional charges, will cut costs to the city.
After 25 minutes of conversation, Mayor Calvin Balch reminded the council that they are not voted in to tell people what to do and how to manage their lives. Instead, he said, they are voted in to make living in Blanding better. They are trusted with decisions that will improve Blanding.
Shorty after that statement, the council voted unanimously to accept credit cards and eliminate the fees for utility bills. Credit cards or debit cards can be taken over the phone, online, or in person to take care of utility costs.
In other topics, Blanding City has requested a “seat at the table” with the USDA Forest Service.
The Forest Service is in the process of revising the Land Resource Management Plan for the Manti-La Sal National Forest. The City of Blanding requested to be a part of the talks and the revised plan, and the Forest Service agreed to grant the city “cooperating agency” status.
In the past, the City of Blanding has been notified of changes, agreements, and regulations pertaining to the Manti-La Sal National Forest. However, until now, the city has yet to be a cooperating party in the decisions that are made.
The city council voted to approve a Memorandum of Understanding between Blanding City and the Forest Service. More information will come as representatives are chosen and the revisions begin.
City Engineer Terry Ekker presented a monthly water report that states annual precipitation is 18.5 percent of average. This was before the recent storms. The water year starts on October 1, so there is still plenty of time for rain and snow to fill that gap.
While discussing the water, Mayor Balch suggested that Dry Wash Reservoir be fenced to keep cows out of the drinking water.
Balch is concerned that the uranium mill is using the pure water in the spring while the city is left with dregs at the bottom of Dry Wash and Recapture reservoirs that the animals defecate, drink, and play in.
Balch suggested the city start thinking about changing the trade agreement, so the water coming into homes is the best water available.
City Manager Jeremy Redd said, “Your point is well taken,” and left the impression that it would be discussed in the future.
Terry Ekker updated the council on sewer lagoon repairs after the pond walls were damaged by prairie dogs. The project is almost complete.
The city controlled costs by purchasing their own supplies instead of going through a contractor. While this has worked in the city’s favor before, it did not turn out as well this time.
The city purchased more than $30,000 in vinyl sheet pilings to keep the prairie dogs out of the ponds. However, the vinyl sheets are too fragile to drive into the hard soil.
The pilings were replaced with metal pilings, but the city cannot return the vinyl and is looking for solutions to reduce the fiscal loss.
During the repair process, a leak was discovered in the sewer lagoons. It has been fixed, which should help with water issues.
City officials remind residents of several city ordinances. They point out that Blanding City is not a Home Owners Association and cannot control, fine, or force changes in yard or home appearance.
The residents of Blanding are free to do as much or as little yard work as they like. They are also free to use their land as storage.
While aesthetic nuisances do not fall within actionable offenses, the city attorney and Chief of Police remind residents that action can be taken “if the land befouls water, creates permeating foul odor, produces flies or mosquitos, collects grease, or obstructs public ways…” (City Code 4-2-2: Declaration of Nuisance).
The city reminds residents that when snow comes, they need to move cars off the streets for snow removal, shovel walkways, and keep snow from driveways and walkways on their property.