Preliminary sales tax collections may hint at cash flow problems for the City of Monticello

by Anna Thayn

Cash flow is of great concern for Monticello City Manager Myron Lee.  At the October 27 meeting of the Monticello City Council, Lee presented current sales tax deposits from the Utah State Tax Commission.  

After months of budget discussion earlier in the year, the council had decided to raise sales tax projections from $305,000 (the amount received in 2008) to $346,000 in order to balance city budgets. 

However, based on the latest numbers, sales tax collections are headed in the wrong direction.  After one third of the budget year, sales tax revenues are down more than $50,000 from 2008. 

A major factor in the drop is lower gas prices. The City had received $9486 from natural gas taxes at this point in 2008. The 2009 numbers are less than half, at $4665.  

The lower rates are good for consumers, but the city is taking a hit.  The City is also hit hard by the loss of resort community status.

There is also concern that the numbers reported are largely before road construction began. Many Monticello businesses report lower sales during road construction.

If the trend continues, the City may face a shortfall of $100,000 or more.

Lee said the council needs to think of other ways to solve the problem if sales tax stays down for the remainder of the year. 

Mayor Doug Allen suggested a review of the budget each month to stay on top of the problem.

In other business, residents of 500 North approached the council with a list of complaints. Group spokesman Doug Aiken said they would like to have the road moved up on the list of paving and curb and gutter projects. 

They expressed concern over flooding from drainage, dust control, lack of gravel on the road, weeds in vacant lots, and cars increasing speed on the gravel portion of the road.  There is also concern over cars parking in the red zone at the intersection of 500 North and Main, causing a hazard when entering traffic on Main Street. 

Aiken suggested several ideas, including additional speed limit signs, children at play signs, more police patrols, and speed bumps. 

There are six new homes in the unpaved section of 500 North, in addition to 14 trailers in the mobile home park at the end of the street. A number of children walk to and from school on the road.

The residents were told that paving 500 North is not on either the short or medium range plan, which puts it at least 10 years out.  Mayor Allen said that when a subdivision is typically built, the developer to must put in infrastructure, including roads and curb and gutter. It did not happen on 500 North when a subdivision was put on an existing, non-improved city road.

Allen suggested that the City could help with weed, signs, parking, and drainage, as well as increased traffic enforcement.  He added that residents can share the cost for curb and gutter with the city, but until the road is paved, it may not be in residnt’s best interest to put it in. 

As far as paving the road, Allen said they are willing to help come up with ideas to get the road paved. but added, “It’s not just a matter of us wanting to or not, it’s a matter of funding.”

Allen asked if the residents are willing to contribute to the funding, pointing out that it may facilitate it faster. 

Marcie Aiken expressed frustration, “You don’t seem to want to admit this is a city road. This is not our road. If you sign the road over to us citizens, we will take care of it.”  

Allen said that 500 North is an unimproved city road. Councilman Scott Frost said when you buy a lot on an unimproved road, you should know you will have to wait until the city has money to improve the road.  Doug Aiken said that is why they are coming at this time, as the city is receiving additional money over the next few years for road work.

Allen said they will try to move it up on the priority list, which is put together by city staff.  He said he would love to pave the entire road, but a price tag of possibly $2-3 million is a significant cost to the city.

Lee suggested that they start with cost estimates and then break it down to see what it will take to pave the street. He said there is no doubt the road is used by other residents and it would serve everyone to have it paved, but at what cost.

Councilman Jeremy Hoggard said that with the new homes on the street, it may need to be reprioritized and move up the list. The residents were encouraged to check back to see what the city does to address their concerns.

Myron Lee presented a final plan for the new Monticello swimming pool.  Construction has begun and is scheduled for completion in June, 2010.  The city received a $100,000 donation from the Dolores and George S. Eccles Foundation. A Community Impact Board loan has a $45,000 per year payment beginning in 2012.   The project budget is $2.197 million. Lee is “cautiously optimistic” to complete the project by June and within the budget.

Mayor Allen praised the efforts of community members to see the project take place.  He credited the tenacity of the youth of the community and the “penny drive” as being the key to receiving the Eccles grant, as well as the CIB funding.  Allen expressed thanks to the schools, parents, and youth.

Fritz Pipkin, of the Victims of Mill Tailings Exposure committee, asked for permission to build an information kiosk at the mill site property.  Pipkin said grant funding will pay for the kiosk. 

Mayor Allen said he didn’t think they would need permission from the Department of Energy, but suggested that they coordinate with the City Public Works Department.

The council approved a change to the general license provisions of the city.  The change stipulates that youth are exempt from business licenses requirements.  Before being approved, Councilman Brad Randall expressed concern that it opens the door for other “grey areas” in business license requirements. 

Mayor Allen said that the change is driven by a question by a concerned citizen.  Councilman Frost said that since there is an issue of concern, the change offers clarification for the future.

Councilmen Scott Shakespeare and Frost voted in favor of the change, with Councilmen Hoggard and Randall against.  Mayor Allen broke the tie, voting in favor of the change.

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