At their regular meeting on June 22, the Moab City Council heard updates from city personnel concerning water conservation and the upcoming 4th of July celebration; and discussed and voted on issues concerning the budget and a new townhome plat.
Two items were tabled due to need for further discussion: an ordinance that would add regulations for outdoor dining [See “Outdoor dining ordinance tabled until June 30” on page 1 of this edition. – ed.] and a grant request from Dr. Wayne Freidman at Utah State University Moab that would be put toward a Moab visitor recreation study.
Public Works Director Levi Jones presented the 2020 Moab Water Quality Report to the council. The report found that Moab’s drinking water meets federal and state requirements, and in 2020 had no violations of bacteria and no change in low nitrate levels.
However, Jones noted concerns about water conservation. Currently, Moab’s peak demand (3321 gallons per minute) is just below what the city’s current water sources—from four springs and two wells—can handle (3430 gallons per minute).
If the city surpassed peak demand, “we’d go into emergency action,” Jones said.
Deputy City Manager Carly Castle reported that the city will have an update for the council on a new water tank project on July 13. The tank is intended to increase the amount of source water and the city has already allocated the funds.
Property Tax Update
Finance Director Ben Billingsley presented two updates on a possible property tax before the council: a list of priorities for property tax spending and an updated timeline. Moab remains one of the only cities in Utah that doesn’t levy a property tax and it hasn’t since 1992. The city has relied on sales taxes to pay for infrastructure services. The proposed property tax would prioritize paying for eight additional officers in the Moab City Police Department, capital improvement projects such as Kane Creek Road, and putting money into a “rainy day” general fund. All property tax payers would see a 20% increase, Billingsley said.
There will be an open house on July 14 to answer community member questions and a final budget adoption on August 10. Billingsley emphasized the importance of adding money to the rainy day fund. Billingsley commented that a rainy day fund of only under $1 million for the entire city of Moab “puts you in a scary situation … any major infrastructure problem, you could then have to be going to the state.”
Budget Amendments and a New Audit Contract
The council unanimously approved amendments to the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year budget.
“Despite all the unexpected expenses and lack of revenue … because we cut back expenses during the COVID year, we still came out okay,” Councilmember Mike Duncan noted.
The council also unanimously approved a motion to switch audit contractors from Larson & Company to Gilbert & Stewart.
Deputy City Manager Carly Castle noted that it is best practice to change auditors every few years.
Development: Townhome plat approved
Thompson Townhomes, of TNT Real Estate Investments LLC, proposed a 6-unit multi-household residential townhome to be built at 264 E. 200 South, Moab. The council unanimously passed a motion to approve the townhome plat application.
Visitor Use Study
Dr. Wayne Freimund, a professor in the department of Environment and Society at Utah State University Moab, presented his proposal for a visitor use study to provide an assessment of outdoor recreation use. In particular, the study would focus on the behavior and patterns of OHV users.
Mayor Emily Neihaus said the study would also be helpful in discovering the true number of visitors to Moab and what those people are doing. She noted that current visitor estimates overlook groups who use the city infrastructure but may not participate economically, like van lifers or campers.
Freimund asked the city for $36,713.53.
“It seems like a big ask for the city,” Councilmember Karen Guzman-Newton said.
The council unanimously approved a motion to table the discussion for two weeks, to allow Freimund time to approach the Grand County Commission with his request.
The Moab City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. Meetings are streamed online at the Moab City Youtube channel. Schedules, agendas and opportunities for public comment can be found at www.moabcity.org