MD’s Moab City Council Meeting Preview 2021-08-24

[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 and Social Distancing will be required. Note that Grand County has lately seen a modest bump in new Covid cases. If you’re not already vaccinated, do it. We’re not getting out of this until more people are.

Regular session starts at 7 PM

Unless a likely vote on a proposed property tax takes unexpectedly long, it should be short (well, short for City Council, that is less than 6 x 1023 seconds (Avagadro’s number, I’m sure you’ll remember from your chemistry or physics classes :) ) .

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

Finance Director Ben Billingsley will present the latest FYE (Fiscal Year Ending in) 2022 budget. There are now four options for Council to consider: 0, $1.0, $1.5 and $2.0M annual revenue for the city. Note that he’s dropped the $3.3M option that was widely publicized as the maximum considered revenue, presumably due to lack of Council support. We must adopt a budget no later than the end of this month.

  • Re where the money goes, consider for example for the $1.0M option. Ben shows all $1.0M of the new tax revenue going into the general fund (GF), along with a one-time ARPA (a federal government Covid relief program) contribution of $316K. Of that total of $1316K, $812K of it is paid out ( or “passed through” , transferred) to the Capital Projects (CP) fund, leaving $504K in the GF ($188K of it is new property tax revenue) for other purposes.
  • Re CP expenses, Ben now shows $100K spent on Dark Sky compliance – replacing non-conforming fixtures and installing LED rather than incandescent lighting. He shows $131K for new police vehicles, $50K of which is subsidized by a state grant. He has not shown both 400E and Kane Creek Blvd road work nor “emergency” contributions to Water/Sewer/Storm enterprise funds, some of which are shaky. The fact he didn’t explicitly list them doesn’t mean we can’t fund them; none are cast in concrete (no pun intended). This gives Council flexibility to change their mind with changing circumstances and in my opinion a good thing as long as the public is engaged and the changes supported.
  • Ben shows (in the agenda) two other documents you may want to read: a) a narrative describing a number of recent updates to the proposed budget, and b) the detailed proposed budget itself if you want to get into the weeds. 

Re political prospects, I’m moving towards just saying no at this time. I still think a modest (ie small compared to county taxes) property tax is appropriate and needed – at some point – maybe a year or two down the line. But I can’t find any enthusiasm (across the entire political spectrum) for a new tax right now; the timing is poor for a variety of reasons. Some people are afraid of a “foot in the door” – but I maintain Moab should never need a burdensome property tax because we’ll always have substantial (heavily visitor generated) tax revenue.

Council members’ opinions are split. I don’t know where we’ll end up, but I’m guessing it’ll be $1.0M or none at all. But I could be wrong. 

Hope this helps,

Mike Duncan, City Councilmember