Monticello City Council discusses need for transparency in City matters
by Eric Niven
Transparency seemed to be the public’s focus of the June 13 Monticello City Council when Tom Wigginton addressed the Council during Public Comments.
Wigginton raised an issue regarding a new Verizon cell tower which is being built next to his property within the city limits and which will be located about 150 feet from his home.
Wigginton claimed he was informed of the construction when the electric company showed up and installed a utility pole in preparation for construction of the cell tower and associated structures.
“I was surprised the construction had been approved and a building permit issued, and I had to find out from the electric company,” he said.
“I listen to how the city is promoting transparency, not wanting to hide anything from the citizens,” Wigginton said. “It would have been nice to at least get a courtesy call informing me of what was being proposed and did I see any issues or concerns, being an adjoining property.”
Cindi Holyoak, City Clerk/Recorder, responded that the city is not required to inform the public of issued building permits. “If we provided notification for all building permits, that is all we would be doing,” she said.
Councilman Sanford Randall stated that he understood the City’s position about not informing the adjoining property owners about issued building permits but stated a cell tower is different than building a garage and thought a courtesy call would have been appropriate. Several in the audience agreed.
Mary Cokenour, who was in attendance, asked whether there were any health and safety issues, as the tower would be so close to a residence.
Dawn Howe, a Monticello resident and a pilot who was also attending the meeting, questioned whether the cell tower would comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations regarding missed air approach requirements with the airport.
Wigginton stated he had no objection to the actual construction of the tower but in how he was informed of the construction.
“Let me make one thing clear for the record, I don’t have any objection to the cell tower,” Wigginton said. “It should improve service in the town, and better service is a good thing for all.”
Speaking to the Council Wigginton stated, “My concern is if transparency is your goal, it is not making it to the citizens of Monticello.”
When speaking with Wigginton following the discussion, he stated that had the city given him a courtesy call, he would have been able to inform them that the cell tower is currently being built at the end of a leach field.
In other news, the council approved pursuing a swimming pool discount program for foster kids and for hotelier clientele.
City Manager Ty Bailey commented that the discount for the foster kids would be a welcome service and the discount for hotelier clientele would raise city revenue.
Comments from the public included offering the discount not just to hotelier clientele but for any business in the city that caters to tourists.
The hiring of the new City Manager was then discussed with Holyoak informing the council that there are six applicants vying for the position, and a hiring committee will be set up.
Concerns were raised that should a new city manager not be hired prior to Bailey’s departure, who would oversee city operations. City Manager Bailey stated that the Mayor would take over management until a new City Manager was hired.
Lastly, City Manager Bailey informed the Council that the next Council meeting would include approving the final City budget.