Mt. Pleasant City increases power rates $2 per bill

Mt. Pleasant City increases power rates $2 per bill

MT. PLEASANT—For the first time since 2014, Mt. Pleasant has raised its power rates.

Rhett Wilkinson / Messenger Photo Mt. Pleasant Mayor Michael Olsen (left) with Gary Stephenson (right) after Olsen honored Stephenson with the Mt. Pleasant citizen of the month award.

The increase is $2 on an average bill.

In the Mt. Pleasant public hearing Tuesday, March 23 that immediately preceded the rate being raised, Councilman Kevin Stallings called it “a pretty darn low increase over six years.”

An extra $93,000 will come to the power department by virtue of the increased power rates. That will enable the department to wipe out debt, Mt. Pleasant Power Superintendent Shane Ward said.

Ward said that Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) hadn’t raised their prices much, but they still did. UAMPS’ Carbon Free Power Project also will cause financial problems if it goes over $55 per megawatt hour, Ward said.

The city is raising the power base fee $1 an hour and raising the power rate a quarter of a cent on the kilowatt hours, Ward said.

“That’s probably the least impact we can do … and still make it reasonable to our citizens,” Ward said.

Ward said he didn’t want to increase the amount too much because he didn’t want to burden elderly citizens on fixed incomes.

Ward said the quarter of a cent on the kilowatt hours is “not really going to be noticeable.”

Councilman Sam Draper asked if the total amount would be a dollar and a cent, basically. That was affirmed.

In a public information meeting on the rate increase, Gary Stephenson, a Mt. Pleasant resident, said, “Sounds reasonable to me.”

The rates have to be the same in-city and out-of-city, but the base fee can be different, Ward said.

Councilman Justin Atkinson said that in the city of La Verkin’s power rates will increase 2 percent automatically. Ward said he thought about implementing something like that, but just wanted to cover the debt.

The resolution to raise the power rates takes effect April 1.

“It’s an April Fools’ joke,” Atkinson joked in the Tuesday, March 23 city council meeting.

The increase will show up on residents’ bill in May, Recorder Jeanne Tejada said.

Right-of-way

In other action in the meeting, the council passed a city right-of-way ordinance.

Councilman Russell Keisel reminded the council that the ordinance is one that is “going to take some enforcement.”

The ordinance will impose a $25 per-day fine on owners of buildings, vehicles, trees and the like encroaching in city rights of way.

Mayor Michael Olsen noted that Tejada was working on it until the last minute.

He also said that the city had come to the realization that the ordinance can’t take effect until 90 days after it is adopted.

“Which is June 21,” Tejada said, noting that the city must put notice of the ordinance in three public places.

Atkinson asked if the city had a public hearing on it.

“Nobody showed up,” Olsen said.

“Did we have to [hold a hearing]?” Atkinson asked.

Olsen replied that the council didn’t have to, but it was done in an effort to get public input.

Water impact fee

Also, the council passed a culinary water impact fee ordinance. The impact fee will be $5,800 per equivalent residential connection.

“We kicked this one around a lot, too,” Keisel said. “This is one we did a good job discussing.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development gave a $4.22 million loan for culinary water improvements, including a new well, water treatment plant and PVC piping.

Olsen noted that it would be 90 days before the city can start charging.

“Do we need to decide on an amount?” Councilman Rondy Black asked before the motion.

Olsen replied that he and the council did (for the $5,800).

“The night of the public hearing, didn’t we have [Sunrise Engineering project manager] Devan [Shields] show up?” Draper asked, before being told “yes.”

Olsen pointed out that the council did go down from $5,822 to $5,800.

“The impact fees will not affect the community at all. It will impact those coming in [to Mt. Pleasant],” Ward said while discussing the power rate increase.

New well

Shields said earlier that the first option for a new city well is by the “acid house” close to the mouth of the canyon. “There’s not really an address,” he said.

The preliminary location of the plant is in the same area, though that could change, Shields said.

If the location of Sunrise’s first site for the well doesn’t work—after the company drills the well and if it doesn’t get the volume or quality of water from there—“Plan B would be to move to an alternative site,” Shields said.

“We’ve got our priority that is the first one and if that site doesn’t work out, then we will move to the next alternative and test that,” Shields said.

Shields said the objective with the well is basically to try to hit water. Once Sunrise does that, it’s set to successfully carry out its plan at the given location, Shields said.

The pilot well will be eight inches in diameter.

An analysis Shields did recommended $5,800 per ERC as the maximum impact fee, Shields said.

The impact fees must at least be committed within six years to the projects for which the impact fees are intended.

“It doesn’t mean it has to all be spent by then, but you can’t have impact fee money just sitting without having started on the projects that the impact fees are for,” Shields said.

Citizen on month

Also, Olsen honored Gary Stephenson, a retired coalminer, as the citizen of the month “for all the many hours of work that he does,” Olsen said. That would be an hour each morning picking up garbage at Mt. Pleasant City Park and a block nearby, Stephenson said.

“I just pick up everything I see,” he said.

“I got to say, when we started this citizen of the month [award], I had a number of people saying that we needed to nominate Gary,” Olsen said. “[We] had some citizens call because they were put out that he did not get it last month. It was amazing how many calls we got.”

Draper said it was well-deserved.

“I just appreciate the opportunity to be able to serve the city,” said Stephenson, a 31-year resident of Mt. Pleasant.

More than seven years ago, when Dave Blackham was the mayor, Stephenson went to city hall to complain about the condition of the park. Blackham replied that he didn’t have the money nor people to address the problem. He also said that since Stephenson lives only a half-block away from the park and retired, that perhaps he should handle it.

Stephenson’s response?

“I’d be glad to do it,” he told the Sanpete Messenger.

And Stephenson said he would continue to do it as long as his health would permit. Blackham knew that Stephenson had a condition with his back. But he told Blackham, “You are helping me rather than hurting me. All that bending over stretches my spine out.”

“I said ‘you are helping me and I am helping you,’ so it works out great,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson used to clean up the bank. One time the bank offered to pay him. But Stephenson declined.

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