At their regular meeting on July 13, the Moab City Council discussed the city’s prima facie speed limit, details of the Mill Creek Drive Water Improvements Project and plans for incoming funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The prima facie speed limit in Moab will now be 20 miles per hour. Before Tuesday, city code upheld a prima facie speed limit of 30 miles per hour, meaning that unless signage says otherwise, the assumed speed limit in Moab City was 30 miles per hour.

Lowering the prima facie speed limit to 20 miles per hour will be accompanied by a signage plan to make visitors and residents aware of the speed limit change. Signs will be posted at 14 key locations, including on Kane Creek Boulevard, various intersections off of Main Street and on Mill Creek Drive. The council also moved to lower the Williams Way speed limit to 25 miles per hour.

The change will effectively enforce a speed limit of 20 miles per hour in Moab City unless otherwise posted. The ordinance passed 5-0 and the 20 miles per hour prima facie speed limit will go into effect immediately.

Also on Tuesday, Mayor Emily Niehaus recommended Brityn Ballard to the City Planning and Zoning Commission. “She was born and raised here and is a nurse. I think she would do well to represent Moab,” Niehaus said. The council confirmed Ballard’s appointment unanimously.

Next, the council discussed details of the Mill Creek Drive Water Improvements Project. The project will replace approximately 12,000 feet of old water main pipe along Mill Creek Drive up to the Powerhouse Tank, re-establish all existing system water main, service lateral connections and improve fire flow protections by replacing and adding fire hydrants.

The Moab City Council voted unanimously to award the Mill Creek Drive Water Improvements Project construction contract to Harrison Field Services in the amount of $2,416,528.03. Previously, the council had evaluated two other bids for the construction contract, and selected Harrison Field Services — the lowest bid out of the three and the only company based locally.

“We’ve worked with them previously and they’ve done a good job,” said City Engineer Chuck Williams. Based in Moab, Harrison Field Services can more easily transport their equipment to job sites and more effectively manage traffic control.

Williams does not anticipate that any roads will be completely shut down during construction, though some may be reduced to one-way at times. Construction will take place primarily on the northeast edge of the asphalt on Mill Creek Road, he clarified.

Funding for this construction project comes from the Water Bond approved by the City Council earlier in the year. The city budgeted $2 million in the bond package for this project, but Williams and consultants at Civil Science anticipate that the contract amount of $2.4 million can be brought down as different projects are cut back during construction.

City staff and engineering consultants at Civil Science, Inc. reviewed Harrison Field Services’ bid and deemed it “fair and reasonable.”

The council also moved to approve a task order from Civil Science, Inc. for a consulting services agreement to oversee construction administration services for the Mill Creek Drive Water Improvements Project. The task order fee is $72,800, and approval was recommended by city staff.

Civil Science finished the engineering design and construction drawings for the Mill Creek Drive Water Improvements Project in April of 2020, but the project was pushed back for myriad reasons. The city asked the company to prepare a task order for a consulting services agreement to assist in conducting construction administration services for the project.

Through the duration of the Mill Creek Drive Water Improvements Project, Civil Science will administer the construction contract, act as Moab City’s representative and be available for consultation. Their responsibilities include approving schedules, attending biweekly construction progress meetings, clarifying documents related to the work, issuing field orders, reviewing inspections and more.

The construction period for the project is expected to last nine months with the delay on parts, but could last up to 10 months. The City remains responsible for on-site inspections with consultation from Civil Science. The $72,800 paid to Civil Science for their services is based on an estimated 500 man hours of work on the project.

To close out Tuesday’s meeting, Finance Director Ben Billingsley provided a presentation on the American Rescue Plan Act. ARPA, at the cost of $1.9 trillion, was signed into law on March 11, 2021 to help America economically recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state of Utah will receive $8.4 billion in total, which amounts to $2,600 per Utah citizen. Nearly half of that total funding will go towards individual stimulus checks, while education, health and human services, agriculture, transportation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other entities will also receive funding.

Two funding categories concern Moab City directly: the local fiscal relief fund and capital project funds. Moab will receive a total of $631,519 from the local fiscal relief fund; the city received half of that money on July 12, and will likely receive the rest of the funding in July 2022. This money must be spent before December 31, 2024.

Billingsley explained that there are four allowable uses for Moab’s allocation from the local fiscal relief fund. One category is responding to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts. Such a response could look like programs or services addressing housing insecurity, lack of affordable housing or homelessness, or development of affordable housing to increase Moab’s supply of affordable and high-quality living units.

“I think we can all agree that there’s a critical need for that in the City of Moab. This is a square peg in a square hole. The Walnut Lane project is a project already in play that would be eligible to use those funds,” Billingsley said. “The council could take that money and contribute it towards an existing project, basically putting it back into our fund balance.”

The three other allowable categories include providing premium pay to eligible workers, providing government services and making necessary investments in infrastructure. Billingsley said that Moab is likely to use the funding for either housing or infrastructure.

Under the infrastructure umbrella, the federal government will only allow the funding to go toward water, sewer and broadband internet projects. City Engineer Chuck Williams said that two sewer projects in the city are currently “shovel-ready”: the Bowen Circle Locust Sewer Project, budgeted at $425,000, and the Birch Avenue Sewer Project, budgeted at $840,000.

ARPA also includes capital project funds, which have the same spending requirements as local fiscal relief funds. After a competitive application process this fall, capital project funds could match Moab’s $631,519 from the local fiscal relief fund for up to approximately $1.2 million in funding, though receiving that amount is unlikely, according to Billingsley.

Billingsley was unclear on what entity will determine how much funding local governments may receive from capital project funds. He cautioned that though the capital project fund has $50 million total to award, “that is a relatively small pot of money” between all of the local government agencies in the state that will apply.

“I highly recommend that we pursue this money because it is one-time money and Moab has a need. We can demonstrate that need,” said Billingsley. “I wouldn’t hold my breath on any of this money, but I would recommend that we do apply. We really need to have a good story to tell, which I think we do in housing. Most entities, I would assume, will go for infrastructure projects.”

Since Moab will not receive its second half of funding from the local fiscal relief fund until next year, the city council has time to decide what to do with the ARPA funding.

“I encourage us to think about it for a while, because the decision doesn’t have to be made. But it sure feels good to have a relief valve in this money,” said Mayor Niehaus.

The city council will wait for further direction from the state on the capital project funds application process this fall before choosing which projects to pursue with the funding.

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