Friday, February 10, 2017
WE’VE GOT TROUBLE
RIGHT HERE IN RIVER CITY
City Council Workshop Meeting of Feb. 9th served as a prelude to upcoming City Budget demands. Verbal presentations were made by City Department Heads describing the workings of each department, accomplishments and challenges faced. This is intended to provide the Mayor and each council person with an improved understanding of projected costs necessary to satisfy operational needs of the city. Expenditures from the General Fund are at issue as this is the monetary source which pays for the items that insure Protection of Life and Property and the Worldly Needs we have come to expect. (Leisure Services – Parks & Recreation Enjoyments). The main source of revenue to the General Fund comes from Property Tax and Sales Tax. The city manager informed elected officials that in years past the city received about 18% of Property Tax collected and this has been whittled down to 13.52 %. SOOOOOO who among us….. Wants an increase in Property Tax to restore the percentage lost. FOLKS, I am able to tell you that I know of no member of the city council that supports raising YOUR Property Tax. I share with you this bit of information so that you might better understand the challenges faced in approving this upcoming budget year.
As an added aside to challenges faced….As if we in Southern Utah don’t have our own LOCAL concerns to address and manage…..To the satisfaction of local voters it was reported at this Council Workshop Meeting that it appears that some of our State Legislators may have designs on how to exert their power and influence over how local city governments manage ZONING LAWS by telling local city officials THAT they may no longer regulate Short-Term Rentals. I refer you to House Bill 409 currently under consideration.
Doesn’t this make you think of that great performance give in Music Man where the star performer said…..“We’ve Got Trouble Right Here In River City”. The trouble I refer to is that LOCAL control is no longer valued by politicians…..Who reside in the northern portion of the State and who seem intent to treat SG as a Step-Sister……Not deserving of due respect. I hope that I have stirred your interest in Short-Term Rentals and will shorten this article by stating that it appears that HB 409 if approved will in effect take local control away. Please take the time to read HB 409. Specifically line item(s) 90 (i) which reads “Permanent Resident” means the owner of record or a lessee of a residential unit. 91 (ii) “Residential Unit” means a residential structure or any portion of a residential. 92 structure that is occupied as a residence. 93 (iii) “Short-Term Rental means a residential unit or any portion of a residential unit that 94 is offered by a permanent resident of the residential unit for occupancy for fewer than 30. 95 consecutive days.
It surely does appear that zoning laws are not important to certain State Legislators and that if HB 409 is passed and it appears that it is on a Fast Track to be approved…..That Short-Term Rentals will become a reality ANY PLACE in the city. Ask yourself where does your State Representative stand on this issue. As for me I asked…..Representative Jon E. Stanard (435) 414-4631 who’s side are you on? Where do you stand on this issue? Folk’s I understand that this is a HOT issue for many of us and ask that you get involved and let you thoughts be known. Thank you. ED BACA
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
ANNUAL REPORT TO CITIZENS OF ST. GEORGE
“UNITED IN FAITH AND CONFIDENCE”
THAT WE MIGHT FIND STRENGTH TO RETAIN OUR CITIES AND THIS LAND UPON THE BEDROCK of VALUES we have been fortunate enough to have inherited from our founding fathers.
This I believe describes the guiding force behind the decisions made by those elected to represent SG citizens. While the Council may not find itself in 100% agreement on all items appearing on Council Agenda (and that, I believe is as it should be) …….Ultimately votes are cast with the intended goal of standing for those Principals, we know to be true.
My friends as I go about the city the question most often asked of me is…… How are things going for you on the council and is it what you expected? My usual answer is……. Things are going well and after so many years of shadowing council activities there are no big surprises ……. I am however a little disappointed in how little communication actually takes place between council members and contact initiated by the city manager (although he is most gracious and willing to stop what he is doing and visit and respond to concerns) …….other than when the council is in session and following a structured agenda. I have concluded that if you want to talk about something…… You have to be the one to reach out. I am encouraged by the warm and friendly reception I receive from the Mayor and Department Heads. I can tell you that the citizens of SG can take great pride in the dedicated service performed by city employee’s regardless of what position they hold. It is most comforting to see and hear about acts of service beyond the call of duty routinely on display.
As you drive about town you may have noted developments taking place throughout the city. This has prompted some comments such as……..What’s it going to take to get the growth slowed or stopped? Followed by the person identifying the immediate section of the city they themselves reside. Recognizing that the State of Utah is a “Property Rights” State…….Meaning that Property Owners have a right to do what they want with “Their” property…….As long as they comply with zoning and city ordinances. (Respect/Follow Master Plan Guidelines) This is a short and quick answer that can usually be expanded upon given the time and willingness of all parties to listen and understand another’s point of view. Having said this I would like you to know that due consideration is being given to updating Master Plan, Zoning and City Ordinances as required by law.
My friends, this is my way of restating the policies of Honesty, Transparency and Accountability are being adhered to. The City of SG is on an upward spiral and is financially stable. With expected changes and growing pains……. It is appropriate that this coming year will provide the opportunity to re-evaluate priorities……Perhaps realigning/adjusting percentages of where city revenues can be better placed…… In response to demands for improvements to city infrastructure and public input.
I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that this report will allow you to share in The Faith and Confidence that I have in our City and in our Country. ED BACA
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Unity, Harmony, Goodwill are virtues to be fostered. DAVID O. McKay
Like many of you, I am grateful that November 8th has finally come and gone thus concluding the national election for president. Irrespective of party affiliations and who won or lost…..It just feels good to have it over. We can now look forward and contemplate the future keeping the words of David O. McKay in mind….. “Unity, Harmony, Goodwill are virtues to be fostered”.
The world keeps turning and life goes on. We are confronted with new challenges and opportunities as individuals and in our efforts to develop our local communities and neighborhoods. We have many reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving Day, especially for the fact that we live in America….. Where we are free to express, in our own way, our appreciation of approaching Christmas Day….. Or not. As for me and in my house…….well, you get the message. Please exercise your freedom with charity and kindness towards others during this holiday season. I will confine myself to reporting what is going on within our city and touch upon what I am grateful about.
Of importance to me and hopefully to you, on November 9th a SG Planning Commission meeting took place. A Zone Change Amendment was to be considered that included a conditional use permit to construct “Joule Plaza”, a mixed-use project (commercial & residential) in the C-4 commercial zone generally located at 200 West Tabernacle Street. The proposed project consists of two (2) separate buildings which will both exceed 35 feet in height. Building “A” and “B” would be five (5) stories in height. The maximum height of the buildings would be seventy feet (70’) (+ or -). Majority of the buildings would be between 64 feet to 66 feet. The developer is Dixie Sun Ventures.
Included in the discussion was a “revised” building design conceptual site plan for developing a mixed use project in the C-4 commercial zone. The requested approvals are for: revisions to the building design, and conceptual site plan, 2) 202 units, which is an additional 56 dwelling units, and a reduction in required parking spaces. Reduce 360 Parking Spaces, 2 per unit down to 1.5 spaces per unit. This proposal is substantially different than the previously approved project at the same location.
My friends, as the presentation moved forward and the Planning Commission asked questions of the Developer it became apparent to me that the changes being requested were to have a significant impact on the “Joule Plaza” project from what was initially submitted. It was noted that the project is across the street from the County Court House (A building as tall or taller) and on the opposite side is adjacent to residential homes. As the challenges of the proposal became more evident it was clear that further consideration to details are warranted. The applicant therefore requested that the proposal be TABLED to allow more time to address issues of importance to the successful completion of the project. This I believe will also allow for greater public participation and voicing of concerns.
A Public Hearing was held on November 17th at the scheduled City Council Meeting to consider a zone change amendment for development of a three (3) story 64 ft. high, 118,000 sq. ft. building. Dixie Regional Medical Center – IHC Cancer Center. This property is generally located at approximately 600 South and 1500 East accessing Medical Center Drive.
Background: Planning Commission Presentation #1. This project was presented and discussed at the first PC meeting on September 27, 2016. The public hearing was opened and closed. The applicant requested the item be tabled to allow time to return with materials and colors board. PC-2. This item was tabled at the second PC meeting on October 11, 2016 to allow the applicant time to return with a complete colors board. (Only a sample of metal material had been provided). PC-3. The applicant returned with a complete materials board at the October 25th, 2016 PC meeting. The items were approved and the matter moved forward to the City Council Meeting scheduled for November 17th. IHC amended the PD (Planned Development) in order to construct an additional building. The request is a PD approval, which will include a review of the elevations, site plan, and a height review. The Planning Commission recommended approval. The Public was invited to speak to this issue. Upon closing the public hearing the City Council voted to approve the construction of the IHC Cancer Center Building. A beneficial project for our community is it not?
FOLKS, in my effort to keep you informed I have chosen to mention Council approval of two (2) Airport Hanger leases. It is good that the City is making efforts to accommodate, promote, and enhance general aviation at the airport. Airport Services were transferred to the New Airport Site on or about January 13, 2011. I am told there are different agreements (Hanger/SASO) between city and those leasing space that include specific dates, duties and obligations concerning building maintenance or construction of buildings. I believe there are and should be binding obligations between the City and Tenant. It has been 5+ years for those moving their business from the old Airport to the New Airport. Ample time to have honored terms of agreement is it not? Yet, I am told that one unidentified tenant has yet to satisfy contractual obligations. I hesitate to raise this sensitive issue but will do so because I am concerned that continued delay in obtaining compliance may be interpreted as “Politicizing” the decision making process by giving extensions to one tenant not given to others. I would appreciate receiving public input on this issue so that as a council member I might better fulfill my fiscal responsibilities and satisfy public expectations.
On a more positive note I would like to thank the Learning Center (TLC) for extending an invitation to Council Members to learn more about this nonprofit 501 © 3 organization that promotes the success of children one family at a time. The November 15th recognition and awards presentation spoke to the issue that sometimes families with young children need a little TLC. Whether it’s a developmental delay or disability, poor health, poverty or a less that optimal home environment, TLC has been providing the extra help families need in SG and Washington County and are planning to expand their services. Suzanne Leonelli, Executive Director informed me that TLC would like to expand their services by locating a new facility somewhere in Washington Fields, City of Washington. We are grateful for all they do for the betterment of our community. Thank you and MERRY CHRISTMAS.! ED BACA
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
JOYOUS FEELING OF GRATITUDE
WHEN VIEWING REDISH GLOW OF EAST RIDGE SUNRISE
The Mayor’s Walk began in the cool darkness of the early morning where people, of all ages gathered at what is known as Sand Town Park. The Mayor’s race has become the prelude to the annual SG Marathon, which celebrates its 40th year. The delegation from SG sister city Ibigawa, Japan mingled with members of our community thus experienced a warm welcome. Mayor Pike pointed out that in contrast to our beautiful mountains and open spaces covered with billowing white clouds, Ibigawa is a city green with plants and trees, made possible by frequent periods of rain. The delegation from Japan was clearly excited to join festivities that acknowledged the sister city relationship that continues to grow. Our friends from Japan appeared to have never ending smiles on their faces.
Mayor Pike began the event by acknowledging Walk sponsors and thanked the many volunteers who made possible such an event. At each station manned by police officers the mayor called out their names, thanking them for working extra hours. Citizens of SG reflected great pride in knowing SG City is loved and respected throughout the world.
The mayor armed with a microphone and accompanied by two energetic volunteers carrying portable speakers took off from the starting line talking, almost as fast as he walked….. Eagerly announcing to all, the history of SG and identified buildings, art objects and treasured items held dear to old time residents. Upon reaching the round-about at Diagonal and Main he excitedly called out……Look at the Sun Rise, emanating a, reddish, vibrant color, rising from East Ridge. Overhead were pockets of beautiful white clouds. Casting my eyes upon the marvelous Sun Rise, I could hear the crowd react. In unison we exclaimed a loud AHHHH.
As we approached St. George Blvd. and Main Street we were informed of a new development to take place at this site called “City View”. It will contain retail and office commercial space, 110 multi-family housing units, a mid-block pedestrian corridor, a 60 room boutique hotel, and structured parking. It will consist of three buildings at four stories each. At the south end of City View are, the ongoing, refurbishing efforts taking place at the Historic Tabernacle connecting the past with the present which may take up to two years to complete. My friends, immediately west of this location, on Tabernacle, across from the Court House where the old Wilkinson Light Business was located, is the soon to be Joule’s Plaza. This too will include a large “Mixed Use” style of Residential and Commercial businesses, a meaningful contribution to the Down Town refurbishing effort. This I believe may help keep Property Taxes down by providing the opportunity for increased sales tax revenues. The Mayor’s Walk thus crossed the finish line where volunteer support groups provide food and drink.
Having been inspired by the beauty of the day and a word picture of past, present and future expectations, one can easily see the “Brighter Side” of SG City. My friends, this is the opportune time for me to update you on the growth taking place in our city. Looking to the eastside of the city you will soon see the completion of the Mall Drive Underpass that will allow you to travel below the freeway expediting travel to Ivins and Santa Clara and points beyond. The Dinosaur Crossing Commercial Center (Smith’s Food King Market) development is moving rapidly towards completion located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Mall Drive and Riverside Drive. New Signal Lights are scheduled to be installed on the crest of Foremaster and Five Sisters Dr. (East of Hospital) to be followed at the appropriate time with Signal Lights at Foremaster Drive and Medical Center Drive. The ongoing building of residential homes in what we call Little Valley continues to grow at a fast clip and within a short period of time we will see a New High School in Washington Fields (City of Washington) that will service students from SG City. Thankfully SG City was able to purchase land to build a new Fire Station that will soon service this area and the Industrial Area located at the south end of River Road. My friends, if you were to stand at the New Airport and looked west you will see the beginning of MORE residential development, that one day will probably extend all the way to Sun River. Along the Southern Corridor you may expect to see, literally another city within the SG City limits bringing in another 35 to 40 Thousand People. You can see why the citizens of SG will of necessity have to be provided with an increased number of Commercial Businesses. This may provide a greater understanding of why a major intersection, like the one at Sun River and the Freeway is an appropriate location for Commercial Development. (Types of businesses are to be in compliance with Zoning and City Ordinances). Providing the infrastructure, Roads, Electricity, Water & Sewer lines, Fire and Police Services poses a challenge and opportunity for the entire city.
How we go about meeting these challenges will to a varying degree fall upon the shoulders of each one of us. Some of us may prefer to leave things as they are. Others may decide it is important to move forward. We may talk about keeping our children here, with us. To do so will require us to create conditions that enable them to raise their families in SG. This means we need to provide education, higher paying jobs and affordable housing. We find ourselves at odds trying to decide if we want open spaces…..such as they are, or an increase in density to obtain lower cost housing. However you may feel about the mentioned issues one clear and present challenge stands out. It is difficult to provide in a timely manner adequate Roads and Transportation. This issue has been addressed by Washington County Commissioners, who have authorized placing on the ballot this election year (November 8th) a sales tax increase to fund transportation. This would add a 0.25 percent tax …one cent on every four dollars to non-food sales taxes across Washington County. This translates to a cost of about $40 per year to the average resident. It is expected that more than a third of the increase would come from tourist and visitors. SG City could receive yearly, approximately 1.4 million for roads, with another 1.6 million going to Sun Tran Bus Service. My friends, I will make an effort to provide for your evaluation, a $43 million short term list (5 Years) of projects that could be moved up on the time completion schedule, if this ballot issue was to be approved by you, the voters. You can see, even with an added increase of 3 million dollars per year, completion of all suggested 25 short term projects within 5 years would not be possible due to insufficient funds. Unfortunately delaying the start of roadway projects I am told can only be expected to increase the cost. It gets down to that old saying, Pay me now or pay me later. I believe it is best to place a matter of this magnitude before the voters, trusting in their judgement. Please let your voice be heard on this very important issue. I am available for public contact each Thursday between 9:00 & 11:00 A.M. at SG City Hall. Please feel free to schedule appointment. Thank You. ED BACA
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
VOTEYOU may not…..Then again, maybe you do agree with me. We live in a land blessed by our creator called the United States of America. We have been given something called the Constitution….Freedom of Speech and Religion.
Is there a price to pay? For those who don’t agree you may accept the aforementioned freedoms as part and parcel of living in this great country, or as an entitlement. It just comes with the territory.
For those of you who do agree recognize there is a price to pay. You simply exercise your agency and keep your commandments. You pay by fulfilling your Civic Responsibility…..You follow the laws of your country and you participate in selecting our leaders by VOTING as your conscious dictates. No one tells you which political party to attach yourself to or who to vote for. It’s your choice.
Whichever camp you are in, YOU have an opportunity to fulfill your Civic Responsibility. On JUNE 28th you have the opportunity to VOTE in the Primary and on NOVEMBER 8th THE GENERAL ELECTION.
If for example you have an interest in our SCHOOLS and have a concern about Common Core and its impact on our children you may wish to vote for a member of the School Board…..Who has clearly addressed and not danced around this issue.
If you have an interest in who serves as your State Representative you may wish to vote for Brooks or Kemp. Which of the two for example, will work with the State Legislature to ensure Zoning Laws concerning Short Term Leasing or related matters will be respected within your city.
If you have an interest on who will best serve the 3rd position on the County Commission you may wish to vote on who should be on the General Election Ballot…..Either Gil Almquist or Dean Cox. Folks, this is where the rubber meets the road on issues that will impact your daily life. It is a BIG DEAL. They are both qualified…..but there is a difference. Which one will best compliment the other two Commission Members and who will work best with elected city officials within Washington County. Who do YOU think will perform and work to meet the standards you have placed upon yourself?
It’s your call. Please fulfill your civic duty…..Study the issues and Study the Candidate. Talk with your friends and neighbors and VOTE. When elected into office, “They become our servants. That is the spirit of the Constitution.” (David O. McKay 1952).
Thank you. ED BACA (Available for public contact each Thursday between the hours of 9AM to 11AM at SG City Hall.)
Friday, May 27, 2016
BUDGET TIME – CHOICES TO BE MADE
Each year Utah State Law requires that a tentative budget be submitted by the first City Council meeting in May with the final adoption to be made by June 22nd.
As the May 12th Council Meeting approached the weight of this great responsibility caused me to ponder how best to represent the City’s interest as I reviewed City Manager’s tentative budget. As I struggled to organize my thoughts on how best to recognize and come to a decision on “Priority Choices” I came upon the Ensign-May 2016 General Conference Address. On page 86, I found President Monson’s message entitled CHOICES.
“THE CHOICES WE MAKE DETERMINE OUR DESTINY”
My friends I decided to act on this message and determined that I would present a brief outline of the budget process for those in attendance at this public meeting including members of the press who are expected to keep the public informed on what is taking place within the walls of City Hall. I delivered the following statement.
“I can find no better words to lead us into the Budget Process that we are about to enter into than those uttered by one of our prominent citizens.
Our Republic opens the door to a democratic process not only to satisfy state law concerning a Balanced Annual Budget for the city, but more importantly it serves as a time when elected officials make known to the public that fiduciary responsibilities are met.
It is a non-adversarial discussion and review of the proposed budget submitted by the city manager which affords elected officials an opportunity to establish priorities that are a reflection of the public’s desires as they know them to be.
It then becomes the responsibility of the city manager to develop a budget, giving due consideration to input from the Mayor and City Council. A budget that meets expectations that, are in keeping with state law. The city manager is entrusted with the responsibility of executing the approved budget.
It might be said that this is where the rubber meets the road concerning public service. It also informs our dedicated public employees that the means to perform their duties are being provided and that their service is appreciated and respected.” I believe this budget process to be a highlight of transparency in city government.
Please note that I mentioned that this budget process was to be a non-adversarial discussion. My friends, about three quarters of my way into this statement……I was interrupted by Councilwoman Betty Arial…..Who drowned out my remarks by stating “Get on with it, we all agree with it.” Now, I haven’t yet decided if this was merely a continued display of poor manners or an intentional act to stop my communicating with the public.
Perhaps it’s just a sign of our times. When you don’t like what someone is saying or how they go about saying it, just, shout them down. Interrupt them, take over the podium. If this doesn’t work take the microphone away from them. Disinvite them from speaking at a public venue like major university or block the door so the speaker can’t enter. The worst case scenario becomes a riot in the streets to deny freedom of speech. Where and when do we take a stand?
I do know that this is not the first outburst I have been subjected to at the hands of Councilwoman Arial in which a demeaning or disrespectful tone has been sounded. I want the public to know that I am trying very hard to apply the admonition given in the referred to article. “May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” I replied to Councilwoman Arial that I appreciated her support and that my message was intended for the public and press who were present. The meeting continued without further interruptions in a cordial manner.
2016-2017 OUTLOOK: City continues to see growth in population around 2.5% to 3.0% over last year. Current estimate for sales tax revenue for current fiscal year reflects a healthy 7% growth. This budget is based on a conservative growth rate of 3% in sales tax revenues and a 3% increase in property tax estimates for new growth for the next fiscal year. Based on current major projects and forecasts from local and state officials, next year should again see steady growth in all areas.
The recommended general fund budget is $64,917,009. The expenditures are broken down in the following categories: Personnel Services at $41,419,398, Materials and Supplies at $$16,863,643, and Capital Outlay for $6,633,968. The General Fund is comprised of the following departments: General Government, Public Safety, Economic Development, Public Works, and Leisure Services.
My friends it appeared to me that the big issues discussed dealt with changes in the Tentative Budget that had to do with an increase in personnel for the Police Department. Growing concerns for roads: giving special consideration to the new High School that is to be built at the city limits of SG City and Washington City that also includes a section of County Road. A Water Rates adjustment caused by an increase in rates being implemented by the Washington County Water Conservation District and growing demands to improve infrastructure. Building the Little Valley Fire Station now appears two years away.
Further discussions are to take place in which “Priority Choices” are to be made. I will endeavor to keep the public informed. Thank you.
Monday, April 11, 2016
PULLING THE CART TO THE TOP OF THE HILL IN WASHINGTON COUNTY ENVISIONED BY A COUNTY COMMISSION ACTING WITH INTEGRITY, WISDOM AND HONESTY
Two years will have past when a new member of the County Commission takes his/her seat as the third member of the commission. As candidates step forward displaying their wares it is time for us to remember who we are…… And to contemplate the foundation we will chose to build our values upon as it relates to the interaction that takes place between county and established municipal governments.
My friends, the success or failure of inter-agency activity intended to benefit residents throughout Washington County requires dedicated attention to detail and a measurement of accomplishments. The race to elect a new commissioner announces that the time has come to evaluate performance of established practices between County and Incorporated Cities. A public report on accomplishments and perhaps, areas that can be improved upon.
I do not believe it is possible to over emphasis the importance of the need to have a close working relationship between the 3 County Commissioners and those elected to represent Incorporated Cities. For example a great amount of publicity has recently been given to areas controlled by the BLM in which we are all concerned about. It impacts water rights, power lines, and a transportation corridor, not to mention public access to recreation land.
A County Animal Shelter that will not only serve the county but will bring relief to cities that have carried the burden of caring for our pets and valued animals. It is time to have a County Animal Shelter.
A need to expand Bus Service to unincorporated areas that will reach tourist destination points such as Zion National Park.
My friends, the list identifying our common interests is far greater than those I have lightly touched upon. My goal is to increase awareness of the benefits to be gained by having a County Commission that is willing, ready and able to work effectively with city government. The time is now to be engaged. Please make an effort to meet candidates and following up by contacting delegates in your precinct and let them know who you want to be placed on the ballot.
I have met with County Commissioner Victor Iverson and Zachary Renstrom and have been favorably impressed with the direction they are taking the County in the coming years. Upon the retirement of Commissioner Alan Gardner one of the 5 candidates will succeed him. I thank Commissioner Gardner for his years of service. Please take the time to consider each candidate and cast your vote. In the interest of full disclosure I admit that I am seeking a county commissioner that will add to the status of our County Commission as it is presently constituted. The City of St. George is the County Seat and comprises more than half of the county population. I have evaluated each candidate and have made my decision on who I believe will bring to the table those qualities and experience needed to enhance the working relationship between agencies. I have no doubt that the person I succeeded on the St. George City Council will provide the expertise needed to move the county forward in harmony with the need of cities. Thank you. ED BACA