At its regular August 24 meeting, the Moab City Council heard updates from Police Chief Bret Edge about police department staffing, discussed participating in a low income housing water assistance program and decided not to implement a property tax to the 2021-2022 budget. [see full coverage on page 1 of this edition. – ed.]

Police Department Updates

The Moab Police Department currently has 13 full-time officers with four vacant positions after announcing the promotion of Sergeant Braydon Palmer to the role of assistant police chief last week. The police department has commented that those vacancies have been difficult to fill due to housing shortages—this past spring, the police department desperately posted an appeal on Facebook seeking housing for new officers.

At the council meeting, Police Chief Bret Edge said that the department has also been slow to fill those vacancies because they’re also looking for quality applicants who are “community driven.” He recently extended job offers to four candidates who fit the bill—two will start the academy this fall.

If everything works out, Edge said, he hopes to increase the number of female officers.

“I’m super proud of the fact that we’re able to bring that into the mix,” Edge said.

The department is planning more opportunities for community engagement, including a chili cookoff against other public safety departments in November. Donations from the cookoff will be given to the recreation department to fund youth sports scholarships. The department has also reinstated its law enforcement class at the local high school, Edge said.

Lastly, Edge said that he has been working with the Moab Sustainability Director Mila Dunbar-Irwin to look into opportunities to replace current police vehicles with electric vehicles.

Low Income Housing Water Assistance Program

The council approved a motion to participate in a low income housing water assistance program, administered by the State of Utah’s Department of Workforce Services. The program would help qualifying households pay their drinking water, wastewater, stormwater and groundwater bills. The program is in its pilot stage—it has funding for two years, with the possibility of extension.

Currently, residents within the city pay $13/month for the first 3,000 gallons of drinking water, then rates increase by about $1.50 per thousand gallons. The United States Geological Survey estimates that the average person uses 3,000 gallons of water per month, meaning that the average four person home in Moab would have a residential water bill of $23.91/month, or $286.92/year.

To qualify for the water assistance program, households have to meet three standards: household income is at or below 150% of the federal poverty line, which for a four person household would be a maximum monthly income of $3,313; the household is “vulnerable,” meaning they are responsible for paying their water costs; and the household has at least one person who is a U.S. citizen or a “qualified non-citizen.”

Funding will start on October 30, and will prioritize households that have had their water shut off or have been issued a shut off notice. After six months, the program will open up to help households that need assistance paying their current water bill.