RD’s Moab City Council Meeting Preview 2021-03-09

[Editor’s note: Both Rani Derasary and Mike Duncan have graciously agreed to let MADAR reuse their regular email updates to constituents. Despite the overlap, we are running both versions of the MCC previews. Readers can choose to read both, either or neither of the previews.]?

Our next City Council meeting is Tuesday, March 9 and FYI it will include a 90-minute Council workshop on vehicular noise, which I know is a topic of concern to most of you.  We’re also having two Council strategic planning/retreat meetings the evenings of March 10 and 11, so I’ve included info on those below, along with latest info on COVID-19 locally, the Highway 191 widening, etc. 

Tuesday, March 9 City Council meeting – 5:30pm workshop + 7:00pm main meeting – online only

As a reminder of how/why we’re meeting electronically, the agenda notes “Consistent with provisions of the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act, Utah Code Ann. § 54-2-207(4), the Moab City Council Chair has issued written determinations supporting the decision to convene electronic meetings of the Council without a physical anchor location. Due to the health and safety risks related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and considering public health orders limiting in-person gatherings, the Moab City Council will continue to hold meetings by electronic means.” The public is invited and encouraged to view the Council’s meetings live (or after the fact) on the City’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/MoabCityGovernment.

Citizens to be Heard (CTBH) options: The public can call in to our March 9 meeting, comment via Zoom, or submit written comments on any topic. Please note that if you’re calling or zooming in, you’ll want to do so at 7:00pm on March 9, as Citizens to be Heard is now at the beginning of our main meeting agenda. Use the Zoom link and/or phone number shown on the agenda here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03092021-1008. If you’d like to submit written comments instead, please fill out the form here before 7:00pm on March 9: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1yRJe4xotVJVjk5yxA91O_W9kJpzGKqOj2frXoxGQTnc/viewform?edit_requested=true.
The 26-page packet for March 9 can be found here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03092021-1008?packet=true.  If you prefer the 3-page agenda only, with links to packet parts, that is here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03092021-1008

Here is a breakdown of what’s on the March 9 agenda:

5:30pm workshop 

Vehicular Noise. While there are no pages in the packet on this item, as you can see from the agenda it will be a “discussion among Council members and staff of actions the City can take to mitigate vehicular noise (amending our noise ordinance, noise and speed limit enforcement, a recreation opportunity spectrum analysis, and City participation in noise mitigation efforts on public lands).”

7:00pm main meeting

COVID-19 Updates. There are no pages in our packet for this item, but often City staff, the Mayor and/or Southeast Utah Health Department (SEUHD) or Moab Regional Hospital (MRH) staff offer an update with the latest information on the pandemic, as well as an opportunity for Council to ask related questions. 

Sewer Rate Change for Institutions. This is on our agenda for discussion and staff is requesting direction on how to move forward. As the agenda summary on page 8 explains, religious institutions who are City sewer (wastewater) customers approached the City in the spring of 2019 to request that instead of being charged the commercial user rate, they be charged the City residential user rate. Their concern is that they are being charged for summer landscaping water that never enters the sewer system. Note that because there are no meters at the back of your house or business to measure how much material goes down the drain into the sewage system, it’s my understanding that to determine City sewer rates: residential users are charged by taking their winter water use and applying this average throughout the year; whereas commercial users are charged based on their water use on a month-to-month basis. (You can find all current utility rates, and an explanation of how your sewer/wastewater Volume rate is calculated versus your Base rate, and how that differs for residential and commercial customers, here: https://moabcity.org/DocumentCenter/View/2814/2020-Rates-W-S-G?bidId=.) Making our religious institutions’ requested rate change would result in $17,345 less in City sewer rate revenues. Staff outline 3 options for the Council moving forward on page 8, which, in a nutshell are: 1) status quo – keep institutions on commercial rate; 2) change institutions to the residential rate and spread the $17,345 loss over all other ratepayers; 3) changes institutions to the residential rate and “do not adjust the rates of all other users….” It remains unclear to me with option 3 if the City would pay the $17,345 out of our General Fund instead, or if overall sewer revenues would be $17,345 lower; FYI this pool of revenues is used to pay for capital sewer projects. If you want to dive into more detail, please see pages 8-11 of the packet, which include different rate scenarios.

Award of the 2021 Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC) Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Bid to Eco HVAC, LLC, in the amount of $54,381.00. This is covered on pages 12-14 of our packet and on the agenda as a briefing and possible action. The agenda summary on page 12 explains that 5 bids were received in response to the City’s January 2021 request for bids. Staff ranked those 5 based on: how each addressed to our bid requirements, the types of systems they recommended installing, and the bid amount including a local vendor preference. I’m told the lowest bid amount is the one Council is being recommended to approve here: Eco HVAC’s bid, and FYI they are a local Moab company. You can see their bid on pages 13-14.

Consideration of an Interlocal Agreement by and between the City of Moab and Grand County with respect to joint planning for and funding of the Technical Planning Assistance Program Funds Cooperative Agreement. This is yet another item on our agenda as a briefing and possible action. Per the agenda summary on page 15, funds are available – through the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) technical planning assistance program – to help local governments with transportation planning. The 2020 Cooperative Agreement on pages 18-20 expands on this, explaining the UDOT program “funding is intended to help local governments plan for future land use and transportation.” The County approached the City to ask if we’d like to engage in a joint plan. (The County wants to update it’s 2008 Spanish Valley Master Plan; due to conflicting information, it’s unclear to me if the City has never had a transportation plan, or does indeed have one that hasn’t been updated in 10 years. I’ll clarify that Tuesday.) To be eligible for $110,000 in grant funds, the City and County would have to make a match contribution of $40,000. The County has committed to $25,000, and the ILA before us (pages 16-17) would commit the City to the other $15,000. If the Council approves the ILA, the County would put out an RFP (Request for Proposals) for “qualified consultants to perform the planning effort.” 

  • Given past problems with transparency on transportation discussions affecting our valley, I have FYI asked staff for clarification on several things related to this, including: how the funds can and can’t be used; how this work will complement or overlap all the other transportation groups meeting in the valley (eg Hotspot group, Regional Transportation Planning Group, Transit Authority etc); if the scope of work will include a bypass, particularly given both the Commission and Council have time and again expressed their desire to direct resources to other transportation alternatives for our community – and yet consultants keep sticking it in there in a form impacting existing City neighborhoods; what happens if the City and County disagree about what should be in the scope of work, etc. I will make sure you get to hear those answers Tuesday.

Proposed Resolution 05-2021: a resolution continuing the Local Emergency Proclamation Due to the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus on the City of Moab. It’s my understanding that these proclamations need to be renewed every 30 days if a City wants to, eg, qualify for related emergency funding, and allow things such as the outdoor parklet restaurant seating downtown to continue. You can get into details on pages 21-26. Council will be briefed on this, and we’re being asked to vote on it. 

Executive (closed) Session.  While this part of the meeting will be closed to the public, I can tell you it will be a strategy session to discuss reasonably imminent and/or pending litigation. 

That’s it for our March 9 City Council meeting, except that aside from what’s listed above, the meeting will contain standard items such as: reports from the Council, Mayor and City Manager; approval of minutes (this time for our February 23 meeting, covered on pages 4-7 of our packet); Citizens to be Heard (please see Zoom, phone, and form link options for this above); and payment of the bills. 

March 10 & March 11 City Council Strategic Planning meetings

At the beginning of each year, City staff meet with the Council to review individual department accomplishments over the past year and goals for the coming one, plus to discuss Council priorities for the coming year. We therefore have two strategic planning meetings this coming week as follows:

  • Wednesday, March 10 – 6:00-9:00pm, online (you can watch live or after the fact on City’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/MoabCityGovernment)You can find the 36-page packet for this here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03102021-1009. Page 1 lays out the topics up for discussion that day:~ review of existing department materials (see packet pages 2-36 – this mostly review accomplishments in 2020 and sets 2021/beyond goals);~ overview of continuing & current City Council commitments for 2021-2022; ~ development of City Council priorities for 2021-2022 (includes: visioning; planning [code update, overnight accommodations, noise issues]; OHV issues [noise impacts, enforcement, traffic enforcement])
  • Thursday, March 11 -6:15-9:00pm, online (you can watch live or after the fact on City’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/MoabCityGovernment) The 36-page packet for the March 10 meeting covers some of this one. There is also a 1-page agenda for March 11 here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03112021-1010. This meeting will pick up with where we left March 10, with continued development of City Council priorities for 2021-2022 covering:  ~ infrastructure (sidewalk plan; Hotspot transportation projects; complete streets/Green streets; water line/Sewer line replacement ~ water resources (connecting growth and water resources; additional water resource development; demand management policies and ordinances)~ sustainability (climate goals, conservation goals)~ budget (revenue enhancement; sewer fees)

Other items that may be of interest

  • COVID-19 latest numbers locally – Per the SEUHD web site  (https://www.seuhealth.com/covid-19), Grand County has now had a total of 675 positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began (17 more than when I last sent you numbers/February 21), 20 of which are active. Luckily no one is currently hospitalized.The number of active cases per 100,000 people is 207.5. Please visit https://www.seuhealth.com/covid-19 for more detail.
  • Heads up regarding recent vehicle thefts/break-ins – Thanks to Moab Police Department for spreading the word on this. If you haven’t seen their Facebook post, FYI they posted March 3: “Our officers have responded to multiple reports of vehicle burglaries and two stolen vehicles in the northwest part of town occurring between 9:00 PM last night and 6:00 AM this morning. Please contact Grand County Dispatch at 435-259-4321 if you have any information or are yourself a victim.”
  • Reward to help curtail vandalism on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land – Thanks to Lisa Church for reposting the recent Trail Mix Facebook post alerting us: “Hey, everyone – unfortunately we’ve had a huge increase in vandalism to our trails recently. Check out this flyer (and $1000 reward) from the BLM. Remember – every dollar we spend on repairing vandalism is one less dollar we get to spend on new trails!” Flyer is attached below!

That’s it for now! I’ve been glad to hear so many of you over 50 or with comorbidities have gotten your COVID-19 vaccine, or at least your vaccine appointment! As a reminder, go here for vaccine appointment info and more: https://www.seuhealth.com/covid-vaccine. Thanks again to our hardworking health care professionals in town making this possible, and to all of you providing for the community’s daily needs. I’d give you all a raise if I could!

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable week,

Rani Derasary, Moab City Councilmember