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Moroni changes irrigation charges,

looks toward system rebuild

 

By Suzanne Dean

Publisher

6-25-2020

 

MORONI—The Moroni City Council adopted some immediate changes and looked down the road toward big changes in its secondary irrigation system at a city council meeting last Thursday, June 18.

The council voted unanimously to apply the same approach to irrigation that it adopted earlier for its water and sewer systems.

Up to now, people building new homes have been required, first, to buy a half share of irrigation water for $1,000. The share stays with the property, giving the location rights to irrigation water even if the ownership changes.

Then the owner of the new home has paid $500 to have city workers hook the property up to the system.

The council voted to drop the amount the owner pays the city to $200. That fee would cover only administration and inspection of the hookup. The owner would have to hire a city-approved contractor to put in the connection itself and pay the contractor privately.

Then Councilman Troy Prestwich, who has been involved with irrigation in Moroni for many years, brought up the fact that the cost of the half share of water hasn’t changed in 20 years. “I think we need to raise it,” he said.

He proposed an increase to $1,500. But after a short discussion, the council voted to bump the cost to $2,000.

Earlier in the evening, the council held a public hearing on the 2020-21 city budget. About a dozen residents attended, and one focus of their input was a proposal to, first, raise the monthly secondary irrigation charge from $20 to $22, and second, to charge a $25 special assessment that would go toward a rebuild of the whole system.

In recent meetings, the council has discussed the fact that the irrigation system went in decades ago. The grade of pipe installed at the time was designed for a non-pressurized system. Subsequently, the system was pressurized.

The result is that the pipe has not held up. There have been repeated breaks and leaks, and because of the configuration of the system, each time pipe has to be repaired or replaced, the whole system has to be shut down temporarily.

The $25 assessment was intended as what Councilwoman Jennifer Lamb described as a “starting point” in putting a fund together for system replacement.

One resident said for the small amount of watering he does on his property, it would be cheaper for him to use culinary water than pay the irrigation fees. And, he said, $25 per property would scarcely make a dent in the million dollars or more required to replace the system.

Councilman Fred Atkinson agreed the $25 per property would be a small contribution. “The big picture is we’re going to need to get a big grant and take out a big loan,” he said.

Gary Keddington, a CPA and financial consultant to the city, said the state requires cities to have a “funding plan,” not just for construction but for ongoing maintenance, before reviewing proposals for a big infrastructure project..

“It’s the only way they can make sure they get their bond payment,” he said. He implied that a fund put together from the assessment could be part of the funding plan.

In the end, the council voted not to impose the special assessment but to raise the monthly charge by $4. The result would be to raise close to the same amount of money as the $2 fee plus a $25 assessment.