Slow down in Monticello

When you think of towns you don’t ever speed through, Dove Creek and Wellington might come to mind, but Monticello may soon be on that list.
The Monticello City Council asked the police department to increase efforts to enforce traffic laws, and in the first two months of 2011 the department issued three times the number of tickets from the same period the previous year, according to a report given to the Council by Chief of Police Kent Adair at the March 8 council meeting. 
In addition to increased traffic tickets, Adair’s report shows several areas where crimes were down in 2010 from previous years, including domestic violence, property crime, DUI and juvenile referrals. 
In order to help with speed enforcement, Adair told the council he had written and received a grant for two flashing radar speed signs, which will be placed on the North and South ends of town. Adair reported that the $7,500 grant will cover all but $330 of the total cost.  According to Adair, the grant originally would have covered all the costs, but a change was made based on a request by UDOT to increase the size of the sign.  
Adair also reported on a meeting he attended with the Blanding Chief of Police and the San Juan County Sheriff.  The three agencies are looking into the possibility of getting both cities on the same in car computer system that is used by the Sheriff’s Office. 
Adair said that being on the same system would increase communication between the agencies and offer many advantages in providing quality law enforcement throughout the county.  According to Adair, the three agencies are looking at purchasing the computers for the city police cars using funds seized approximately nine years ago that the state has asked them to use. 
Adair said he is working with the city’s current computer data company to find out how they can continue to access the records that are stored there.   
 Adair answered several questions regarding the possibility of consolidation of the department with the San Juan County Sheriff’s office.
Councilman Craig Leavitt questioned the need for 3.5 officers, as has been suggested by Sheriff Rick Eldredge, as there will no longer be administrative duties. 
Adair said that 3.5 officers are necessary to cover shifts, regardless of administration.   He suggested that if the City did not move to consolidate the department, they should consider hiring a part time permanent employee at half time, in order to cover the shifts that are now being covered by temporary officers. 
According to City Manager Kelly Pehrson, the city has spent $5,000 so far this year in wages to temporary officers. Adair said that with a half time employee, the police department budget would be $308,000, which is significantly lower than the Sheriff’s Office proposal. The consolidation proposal did not include costs of insurance and the benefit packages for staff had been figured incorrectly.
The council approved a debt repayment plan which will allow them to use money from a Public Treasures Investment Fund (PTIF) to pay off several city debts, including golf carts and the garbage truck.
Pehrson said that the payoff will save $152,000 in interest to the city. The council will continue to make payments on the loans as previously planned, including the interest, in order to pay back the PTIF fund.  Pehrson reported that the interest collected by the money sitting in the PTIF fund is very low and continues to drop annually. The change will allow the city to pay interest on the loans to themselves rather than a third party and pay off the debt in less than five years.
Public Works supervisor Nathan Langston presented a report on the monthly power costs for street lights on Center Street in Monticello. The report included three years of charges and showed little change in the total cost.
Costs were slightly elevated in early 2010 as there were adjustments needed to photocells that turn the lights off and on. Once the bugs were worked out, the costs have been fairly consistent between $2,728 in the highest month and $2,612 in the lowest.  
When compared to 2008, when the city was billed a flat monthly rate, the 2010 annual costs are a mere $415 higher.  The costs for 2010 are approximately $2,600 higher than 2009, however, road construction during nearly five months of the year lowered costs in those months by an estimated $300 to $500 per month.
Pehrson reported that plans continue to move forward for the opening of a Maverik Country Store in Monticello. Pehrson said that the City has received site plans for the location and that the company has a $2.5 million budget for the Monticello store. Pehrson said that the store will be larger than the Maverik located in Moab. 
Regarding the street extension of 300 East between Center street and 100 North, Pehrson said that Maverik will cover the cost of sidewalk and curb and gutter on both sides of the new street.  The new store is estimated to have 10-15 employees and will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Pehrson speculated that construction could start by early May.
The council unanimously approved a bid from TLC Landscaping for landscaping at the new Monticello City Pool.  With an estimated  $28,000 left in grant funding for the project, the council heard about several items being considered, including sidewalk on the south side of the pool, privacy slats for the patio fence, heart defibrillator, washer and dryer, completion of the parking lot and a spare basketball hoop.
In other business, the council approved the re-appointment of John Young to the golf board of directors.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday