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The Sanpete Messenger

Residents near Manti not happy with fees imposed by living in ‘buffer’ zone

Residents near Manti not happy with fees
imposed by living in ‘buffer’ zone

 

By Matt Harris

Staff writer

12-22-2016

 

MANTI—All is not well in the perspectives of many residents living outside of Manti.

A number of residents living in “buffer zones”, areas between city limits, who buy utilities from Manti City, are finding grievance with established fees and regulations on those fees. Some believe that they are being double-charged or overcharged, and they attended Manti’s city council meeting last Wednesday to let council hear about it.

The group, more than ten strong, was represented primarily by Jake Dettinger. Others in attendance included residents Clark and LewAnn Jorgensen, Dave and Kristin Jorgensen, McCrae and Linda Christiansen, Fred Taukei’aho, and Steve Gerber.

The charges have been made to feel like residents outside city limits are getting picked on, some reported at the meeting. “If this kind of stuff continues, I’ll take my kids and we’ll go to Ephraim,” one attendee expressed.

Dettinger and the city council discussed two points of policy. At first, Dettinger and others voiced complaints about charges on water, then shifted focus to a fee for non-resident families to participate in youth sports.

Vibrant discussion ensued quickly about a $10 monthly charge that was given to all buffer-zone residents for a nearly-new water line. What Dettinger’s company was not aware of were the emergency repairs done on the line recently. Total costs of those repairs amounted to over $70,000, and because buffer-zone residents do not pay property taxes to Manti, the surcharge was enforced.

Revelation of reasoning led Dettinger’s group to ask why they were not given any notice or allowed to represent themselves. Despite justification of the fee, Dettinger expressed to the council that it ought to have been made public through a hearing or some other way. Council accepted Dettinger’s thoughts.

Following the water fee discussion, many of the meeting attendees voiced complaints about the $50 fee for nonresidents to participate in youth sports programs. Many in the company felt that the fee implied that they were not wanted in Manti’s programs. Several families living outside of Manti’s borders report that they have removed their children from Manti’s sports programs in favor of Ephraim or Gunnison.

Dettinger calls the fee “a bad business decision.” “If you keep this fee, you won’t have my kids in the program, and that’s revenue gone,” Dettinger told councilmembers. “You’ll also lose me, and that’s a volunteer gone.”

Manti Mayor Korry Soper told Dettinger’s group that the fee was imposed because buffer-zone residents were not paying monthly fees for upkeep of recreational facilities. To this response, many at the meeting reported that they would be more than willing to pay those charges and “feel like a part of the community” than to pay the $50 fee.

Soper has promised that the council will look further into the matters discussed.

Among other items of business, City Administrator Kent Barton also reported that a meeting has been scheduled with Utah Municipal Power Agency for citizens concerned with Manti’s net metering program. UMPA representatives and Manti City council will meet with those concerned on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.