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The Sanpete Messenger

Mt. Pleasant voters will decide on utility fee for rec center

Rendering of the Mt. Pleasant Aquatic Center. Although construction of the center is funded, Mt. Pleasant City has placed a referendum on the November ballot asking residents if they favor utility franchise fees to support year-round operation of the facility.
Rendering of the Mt. Pleasant Aquatic Center. Although construction of the center is funded, Mt. Pleasant City has placed a referendum on the November ballot asking residents if they favor utility franchise fees to support year-round operation of the facility.

 

Mt. Pleasant voters will decide on utility fee for rec center
‘Yes’ vote will approve 2.25 percent local charge on power and natural gas bills

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

10-13-2016

 

MT. PLEASANT—The Mt. Pleasant City Council is proposing tack a 2.25 percent “local charge,” similar to a franchise fee, on to local electricity and natural gas bills charged in order to have funds to operate an aquatic center year-round.

Voters will have a chance to decide whether the city imposes the fee or not. A referendum, being called Proposition 7, asking citizens if they favor or oppose the fee, is being added to the November election ballots going out to Mt. Pleasant City residents.

Based on a financial analysis by the BYU Recreation Department, the city will have enough money from gate receipts and other sources to cover operational expenses from Memorial Day to Labor Day, says Mt. Pleasant City Councilman Monte Bona.

The fee, if approved by voters, will bring in an additional $105,000. Wasatch Academy has committed $30,000 per year for operations, contingent on the pool being available during the school year, not just the summer months. Those two funding sources should be enough to support operation from September through May, Bona says.

If the proposition passes, he says, “we’ll run the pool for as many months of the year as we can.”

According to a voter information pamphlet prepared by the city to go out with ballots, proceeds from the franchise fee will go for water heating costs, lifeguards,  treatment chemicals and other general expenses.

If the proposition passes, the pamphlet says, the local charge will add $1.67 per month to the average Mt. Pleasant electric bill and $1.80 per month to the average Questar natural gas bill.

“For more than 20 years, citizens of Mt. Pleasant contributed to a fund to build a new swimming pool, based solely on the hope that someday that dream would come true,” the information pamphlet says.

“The lack of a modern, enclosed, year-round swimming pool facility has deprived our children of the opportunity to have swimming lessons in their own community, deprived both the North Sanpete High School and Wasatch Academy of the opportunity to have a pool for competitive swim teams, deprived senior citizens of the opportunity to have low-impact water therapy exercise programs close to home, and deprived families of the opportunity to have water recreation on a regular basis year-round without having to drive to some distant facility.”

While charges for use won’t be determined until the facility is built, the pamphlet says the local charge on utility bills “will enable the city to charge Mt. Pleasant residents less for their usage compared to users from outside the city.”

“The Swimming Pool/Aquatic Center Committee believes that this is the best, least intrusive and fair way to give Mt. Pleasant a year-round pool that the city has been striving toward for so many years,” the pamphlet concludes. “We strongly urge Mt. Pleasant citizens to vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 7.”

The city has already raised $2.5 million for the aquatics center from various sources.

The Utah Community Impact Board has approved $2 million in the form of a grant and low-interest loan.

The North Sanpete School District donated the land on the former Mr. Pleasant  Elementary School grounds, and Branch Cox, owner of MKJ Construction of Fairview, has agreed to donate roughly $300,000 worth of excavation and site work. A significant amount of additional money has been raised from private donations.

Utah law outlines various forms of what are called “local charges” that municipalities can tack onto utility bills. The charges compensate a municipality for giving a utility a monopoly and for use of public rights of way for running pipe and stringing overhead lines.