Swearing-in for new Blanding judge
By David Boyle
Members of the Blanding City Council received an update on the raw water policy, approved an award of bid notice for the Wellness Center, and saw the new city Justice Court Judge sworn in at their latest meeting.
At the April 25 meeting of the Blanding City council, Kelly Laws was sworn in as the Blanding City Justice Court Judge. Laws was nominated to the position by Mayor Logan Monson in February, with the city council unanimously ratifying that nomination.
Laws completed the required training for the position in April, and was formally approved by the Utah Judicial Council on April 24. Following that approval Laws was sworn in by outgoing Blanding Justice Court Judge Lyon Hazelton.
Judge Hazelton gave thanks to the city council, staff, law enforcement, lawyers, and especially to the clerks.
“Thank you for allowing me to work for your city of Blanding to make it a better community to live in. That is the goal of the Justice Court to make our communities a better place to live by serving in this capacity.”
While Judge Hazelton is no longer serving in Blanding, he continues to serve as the Monticello City and San Juan County Justice Court Judge. Justice Court Judges are approved for six-year terms. Following his swearing-in, Laws addressed the council.
“Mayor and Council, thanks for your confidence, and I’m looking forward to working for you.”
At the meeting members of the council also came closer to an updated city policy on the sale of raw water.
The City of Blanding sells raw water to the Energy Fuels White Mesa Mill from Recapture Reservoir. The mill is the only entity to purchase raw water from the city directly from the reservoir and maintain its own pipeline from the reservoir to the mill.
The mill and city have been renewing an agreement over the past several years that allows the mill to purchase up to 150-acre feet from the city at a rate of $75 per acre-foot which is lower than the raw water rate that other users pay for out of the upper reservoirs.
The updated city policy update has been aimed at raising the Recapture raw water rates to be more closely aligned with other raw water rates while also creating a policy that can apply to any future entities interested in buying water from the city.
The mill has since proposed a contract that would raise their rate to $120 an acre-foot with incremental increases up to $145 an acre-foot over the next decade.
As a result, City Manager Dave Johnson presented a policy at their latest meeting that city staff has gone back and simplified the policy giving the city flexibility in their water rates.
“Council has the discretion to negotiate essentially any contract that you want at whatever rate you so choose. Bullet point two says those customers who do not have an agreement with the city council, if there’s an excess of water outside of a contract you have in place, that we’d sell it to them at 25 percent of the culinary rate.”
While the policy can protect the city from honoring the rate of raw water purchases from new entities, Council member Cheryl Bowers noted that it also can be used to help negotiate rates for potential users the city would like to draw in.
“I like that it gives us the flexibility if there is that big institution that we possibly want to do something different that we can.”
With the council giving advice and consent to move forward the policy is scheduled to come before the council for approval in an upcoming meeting. Without a policy in place for the start of spring, Council member Erik Grover noted that the mill has already purchased water from the irrigation company. City Engineer Terry Ekker noted with the abundance of water in the area the mill was able to secure a good rate for their needs.
At the meeting members of the council also approved a notice of award for a bid for the Wellness Center retrofit.
The retrofit of the Wellness Center will update the fire suppression system and the restroom shower facilities to meet state fire and health codes.
The city received two bids for the project with Tri-Hursts $528,000 bid coming in under the $570,000 budget. With a 210-day timeline for the project due to a backlog on receiving materials; construction is anticipated to begin after the swim season at the center.
The budgeted update will be covered in part by a loan of up to $341,000 from the CIB as well as $29,000 in grant, plus $50,000 for equipment from USDA, and $150,000 available from City savings for the total budget of $570,000.
At the meeting members of the council also approved the receipt of a grant and agreement with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR)
The $100,000 grant provided by the DWR will be used to help create plans for a new boat ramp and parking area at the old launch ramp located along the western shoreline at Recapture.
The council also approved the city’s annual Municipal Wastewater Planning Program report. The report is required by the Utah State Division of Water Quality.