Fairview raises city’s base water rate $13.50
per month, has limited virtual
attendance from public
By Doug Lowe
FAIRVIEW—While holding its first virtual public meeting Thursday, Mayor Dave Taylor and some city council members were expecting a battle on a proposal to raise the city’s base water rate by $13.50 per month.
Breathing a sigh of relief, all apprehension soon disappeared when it became clear that Fairview’s initial attempt to hold a public hearing perfectally fit the old saying, “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?”
As the public hearing began, Mayor Taylor asked, “Can we have someone who is on the phone speak up and join with us?” Only three people had called in to the dedicated phone line, and only two of them spoke up to identify themselves.
One was Jason Mardell, owner and operator of the Corner Station Deli and Co-op; the second was Police Chief Jeremy Wright; and the third caller said nothing.
Mayor Taylor explained the hearing had been called to solicit citizens’ input on the proposed Upper Toll Gate Springs project. The increased monthly base rate would be raised some $13.50 per month in order for the city to qualify for the $240,000 loan from the state, at 2.5 percent interest for 30 years.
The proposal was mailed to all residents along with their most recent water bill. Some citizens had already called Mayor Taylor to express their opinion. He spoke of an elderly woman, with extremely limited income, who asked about the possibility of billing upon usage, so that those who conserved water could pay less.
While expressing a great deal of interest in the idea, the mayor pointed out that since the present need was extremely urgent, the current plan needed to go forward while other, more flexible billing arrangements were being studied.
He also said the city will be setting up a payment plan, so that businesses and individuals temporarily lacking the ability to pay their full bill, can avoid having their service shut off. HEAT utilities assisance program administered by the Six County Association of Governments will be extending its deadline in order to continue serving more citizens who need help paying for natural gas and electrical service, he said.
Talking of the urgency for repairing and upgrading the Upper Toll Gate springs, the mayor pointed out that the existing system, “Was constructed back before 1911. We have been might lucky, getting at least 110 years of service when the usual life span is 50-80 years.”
Augmenting the mayor’s points, the city’s water and sewer superintendent, Justin Jackson, told how the city traditionally got 110 gallons per minute from its two springs, with that number dropping in recent years to 70 gallons per minute and then 60 gallon per minute before completely stopping in November of 2019.
Repairing and upgrading the springs must be done now, said Mayor Taylor, in order to avoid water rationing in the summer when the town’s two wells simply do not produce enough to meet the demand, and running the pumps all the time will throw the city’s budget out of wack.
He then announced that a bid of $198,000 from Barton Excavation, out of Ephraim, had been received and accepted. Jackson added that Barton’s selection had been approved by state officials who told him, that Barton “has probably done more spring collection system work than anyone else in the state.”
With that, the public hearing was declared closed, and the city’s leaders turned their attention to another, even more costly capital improvment project: upgrading the city’s system for reclaiming and reusing waste water.
Alternating as they explained the project, Mayor Taylor and Jackson, described the advantages of enlarging the city’s capacity for sewer lift pumping along with installing a new line up to a new, stainless steel storage tank placed on high ground southwest of the cemetary. From there, the plan is to distribute the stored water for use on the city’s west side and south side—possibly all the way to the rodeo grounds.
Expanding the existing pump house to accomodate a new pump, and a new 10″ C900 pipe line directly to the new steel storage tank, the plan will ultimately save the city money, but cost an estimated $2.959 million, 20 percent of the estimate being a contingency fund, and various parts of the project being options than can be deferred to reduce initial costs if necessary.
“We are preparing to ask for financial help from the CIB next month, and possible Rural Development after than,” Mayor Taylor explained.
When discussion turned to plans for the 24th of July, Mayor Taylor reported that Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox had told him, “Don’t cancel anything until mid-June.”
Following that advice, it was decided that every committee for any event or activity should continue making plans, but avoid spending any money, at least until the next city council meeting, on May 5. At that meeting, it is hoped that a final go/no go decision will be reached. If not, the matter most likely will be decided the following week.
With that big decision hanging over their heads, the council’s members ended their April session expressing the hope that life will return to normal, or “something near normal” in time to allow them to give Pioneer Day most, if not all, of the traditional festivities.