Sanpete approves $240K loan
for Fairview spring line
By Doug Lowe
FAIRVIEW—Fairview City received good news at its city council meeting earlier this month.
For years, the town has been grappling with old pipes and breaks in pipes in its “spring line,” the pipeline running for more than a mile from its springs in Fairview Canyon to its water tanks in town.
Last year, the spring line had to be shut down for a couple of months because of a pipe break. Yet under normal conditions, the line is the main source of the city’s culinary water.
At the council meeting, Michael Grange from the Utah Drinking Water Division said the Utah Water Board had approved an emergency loan of $240,000 at 2.5 percent interest over 30 years for repairing and upgrading the spring line.
During discussion of the loan, Councilman Casey Anderson asked whether this was going to be “just another Band-Aid” with things falling apart again in just a few years, and emphasized he wanted to see “long term planning for 10, 15 or 20 years.”
In response, Mayor Dave Taylor had Justin Jackson, water and sewer manager for the town, affirm that the loan was to cover Phase One of a multiphase program addressing the town’s current and future needs for culinary water.
“We are planning for the next 20, 30, 40 years,” the mayor said. Then he talked about other loans and grants for which the city planned to apply. He said those applications had “kind of put on the back burner” because the Water Board was able to make a fast, emergency loan.
Taylor also explained that the city would save money once it had regained access to all the canyon spring water it had legal rights to because the expense of pumping from wells could be reduced, perhaps completely eliminated.
However, in order to qualify to receive the Water Board’s loan from the State Revolving Fund (SRF), the city would need to agree to raise its base water rate some $9 per month, per household, in order to match the average found in Utah cities with equivalent average median incomes determined by Utah Tax Commission statistics.
The question of Fairview’s water rates, which are considerably below those in cities with similar income levels, had been studied by another expert on hand that night, Curt Ludvigson, with Rural Water Association of Utah. Ludvigson agreed that the 2.5 percent interest rate loan from the SRF was the city’s “best bet for fast money.”
Ludvigson further pointed out that raising everyone’s monthly water bill by $9 would not only qualify the city for the loan approved by the water board, but also sock enough money to keep the depreciation fund adequate for meeting future needs, and even enable paying one-third of a new staff person to help in the city’s water and sewer department.
Finally, Ludvigson informed council that increasing the base water rate “a bit more than the required $9” could make the city eligible for “free money in the form of grants” rather than loans.
Mentioning some of those possible grants sources, Ludvigson concluded by telling council the sad news that 100 percent grants were no longer available, but that even getting something like 30 percent of a project’s cost in a grant, was well worth pursuing.
After more discussion, council unanimously passed a resolution to proceed with the steps needed to receive the approved loan from the SRF.
A couple weeks after the March10 council meeting, a special emergency session was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, in order to quickly move forward with plans for the bond issue and public hearing still needed before the emergency loan can be received.
The sentiments of the city’s administrative staff was expressed by City Recorder Jan Anderson, who said, “Hopefully, by the time the snow melts and the ground gets dry up in the canyon, we’ll have the money and get the work started.”