Monticello City Council sets water rates, addresses police department issues

Some may believe that Monticello is out of the woods when it comes to water after an impressively wet winter. But that’s still not quite the case.
At the April 9 Monticello City Council meeting, Chris Baird, on behalf of Public Works Director Nate Langston, reported that although the city is definitely in better shape than the spring of 2018, water conservation is still needed.
He said Monticello received 29.5 inches of water from October through March. During the same period in 2004-2005, the city received 33 inches of moisture. Last winter, the total was just 5.9 inches.
Baird said Loyds Lake is about 34 percent full. He said culinary pond number one is 16 percent of capacity, culinary pond number two is at 60 percent, and the secondary pond is 70 percent full.
“The city hasn’t begun to get snow runoff into the ponds yet because our collections are so much higher,” he said.
He reported that the city is not currently collecting water from North Creek. Current intake is 74 percent of average, and current culinary use is 75 percent of average.
Baird said that a state estimate of what reservoirs and ponds will receive this year indicates there is only a 10 percent chance that Loyds Lake will reach capacity this spring.
He reported that Langston recommends using “Stage 2 Water Shortage Rates” for residential secondary water users in 2019. The rates are slightly higher than the rates users faced in 2017.
Last summer, due to extreme drought, the city implemented emergency water rates in an effort to promote conservation. The proposed rates for 2019 are not as severe as 2018 rates due to the moisture received this winter.
City Manager Doug Wright explained that the water rate system the city designed last year is “a pretty good system to address the needs on an annual basis based on the reality of where our water situation is and provides people the opportunity to grow a garden and water their lawns when there’s sufficient water to do so.
“But it still encourages people to conserve, which is really what the higher rates were all about last year.”
The council ultimately adopted a slight change to the proposed secondary water rate structure and committed to the Stage 2 Water Shortage Rates.
Residential secondary water users will pay a base rate of $20 for up to 10,999 gallons of water, 50¢ for each additional thousand gallons from 11,000-34,999 gallons, $1 from 35,000-50,999 gallons, $10 from 51,000-60,999 gallons, and $20 from 61,000 gallons up.
See the chart outlining the price structure on page 5 for full details.
The city is currently charging the secondary water system. The process should be complete by the end of the week.
Wright reported that the city continues to address issues facing the Monticello Police Department – mainly the need of an additional officer and covering the costs for dispatch services provided by the county.
Wright said at this point, the city simply cannot afford four police officers. He also expressed concern that the city cannot afford “an additional $40,000 to $60,000 for dispatch.”
According to Police Chief Clayton Black, one solution to the personnel issue would be to consolidate the Blanding and Monticello police departments into one force.
Black said the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department is able to offer temporary assistance during a hiring process or transition period, but is not interested in contracting with the city on a long term basis.
Black explained that if the city became unsatisfied with the service it received from the county, there would be little the city could do to force change. He added, “If you give up the police department, you’re not likely ever going to find the money to start it back up again.”
In other business, Wright reported that the city will provide vouchers to waive city dump fees for one visit per customer during the annual Spring Cleanup. The vouchers will be valid for the entire month of May. Items like mattresses and televisions that cost extra to dump will be excluded in the program.
Wyatt Holyoak presented a map to the council and asked if his property could be disconnected from city limits to address building permit issues that were discussed at the March 13 council meeting.
Wright expressed concern that by disconnecting the property, the city might create “an island of disconnected city.”
Wright said this proposal would not solve the problems the city faces on Woodland Way, which were also discussed during the March 13 meeting.
The council is awaiting a Planning Commission recommendation regarding the proposal.

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