Moab City Council Meeting Preview 2021-08-10

[Editor’s note: Both Mike Duncan and Rani Derasary 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.]

You can write City Council (anytime, on any subject):

This meeting is live in City Council chambers. Masks (unless you’re vaccinated) and Social Distancing will be required.

Regular session starts at 7 PM

It’s a quiet evening as controversial topics, or rather the absence of them, go. That assumes we won’t make any decisions on the proposed property tax, discussed below.

I have not included non-controversial agenda items here. Please see the full agenda at for full details.

Citizens to Be Heard. To have your written comments considered (on any subject) for the Citizens to Be Heard portion of the electronic meeting, please fill out the form found here: You must submit your comments by 7:00 PM on the date of the meeting. Please limit your comments to 400 words.

Fiscal Year 2021-22 Budget and Proposed Property Tax Increase for the City of Moab. This is scheduled by Mayor/staff as a straightforward presentation and adoption of one of the four proposed property tax rates (or none at all), named after the annual revenue they generate of 1, 1.5, 2 and $3.3M. We cannot adopt the budget without knowing how much, if any, property tax revenue we’ll have, but the budget must by state law be adopted by the end of August. So if it’s tabled at this meeting, it’ll be reconsidered at the regular 8/24 meeting or possibly at a special meeting late this month.

From meetings, letters and comments at the public hearing it’s clear the town has little appetite, from either the political left or right, for a significant new tax. There is a place for such a tax – property owners are traditionally tagged to pay the bills for amenities they enjoy such as parks, recreation and roads. For 30 years Moab has gotten a “free ride” so to speak on the back of sales taxes, a considerable fraction of which is paid by visitors. Property taxes also facilitate bonding, the borrowing of money at relatively low interest rates because lenders know the city has another reliable way of paying the money back. For the same reason, property taxes buffer the town from swings in visitation and allow us to keep a little money in reserve for the same reasons we all try to keep a healthy savings account at home.

But these reasons are relatively weak at this point and the timing is bad for several reasons. I’ve supported a property tax, but only if it’s small compared to existing county/school taxes. The $3.3M level, especially with re-assessments coming up in the next year or two, doesn’t qualify. Maybe 1.0 or $1.5M is more palatable and pays for something widely considered necessary that visitors cannot reasonably be required to fund. I have no idea what my fellow Council members will do, but I’d like to see Kane Creek Blvd with its old water/sewer/storm lines get rebuilt. We can do without more police for a while, but a warning – enforcing a UTV noise ordinance is going to require more police, if they can only find a place to live they can afford. More on that below. Meanwhile, I’m guessing we’ll table this item at this meeting while we thrash it out some more, along with publishing more details/transparency that we certainly could have presented better.

Continued Discussion on Employee Housing Short Term Work Plan. Presented by Nora Shepard, Planning Director, and Kaitlin Meyers, Senior Projects Manager. Last meeting, Nora asked Council what direction they wished to go in order to provide more “employee” housing. Note that the term “employee” can also mean “resident,” and the term “short term” can mean anything from starting next month to years. Nora has listed a number of strategies in priority order, as I’ve listed them here (top priority is first). This list is a catch-all for diverse ideas – some better than others; some cheap, some expensive – don’t assume that any of these will necessarily be adopted:

  • Accessory Dwelling Units (an additional dwelling on the same lot) / reductions in setbacks/building height, etc.
  • RVs parked off- street in residential neighborhoods / seasonal? all year?
  • Camping (tents) in residential neighborhoods / seasonal? all year?
  • Develop deed restrictions for local occupancy
  • American Rescue Plan Act funds for Walnut Lane Policy/Project to offset a rise in material costs and worker shortage
  • Allow Tiny homes/Camp Park/Village in some zones
  • Planned Affordable Development (PAD) allowed in R-2 Zone / change parking requirements / income qualified? resident? Seasonal?
  • R-3 zone employee housing incentives
  • Employee RV park in C4 zone/ convert to overnight RV parks
  • Revise PUD to fix shortcomings and encourage use
  • Allow Bunkhouses/Dormitories in some zones
  • Amend parking requirements for Employee housing
  • Enforce illegal nightly rentals in residential zones
  • Purchase of homes and rent out bedrooms to employees
  • Provide transportation to/from employee housing area to downtown
  • Housing Stipend for new City Employees
  • Evaluate vacant properties to use for employee housing / overlay / PUD
  • Housing mitigation/replacement program / fee req’d into the City’s housing fund to displace existing employee housing
  • Public/private employee housing project
  • Vail In-deed type of program / homeowners voluntarily restrict their property for locals / compensation paid by city
  • Legalize illegal duplexes / bring up to code
  • ARPA funds to establish a financial assistance program
  • Four stories for employee housing in some zones / overlay / specific parcels
  • Local businesses pay into a housing fund for completion of Walnut Lane or other employee housing projects.

Hope this helps,

Mike Duncan, City Council member