La Verkin City Council Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 6:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 111 S. Main, LaVerkin, Utah
Present: Mayor Kerry Gubler; Council-Members: Richard Hirschi, Ken Hooten, Randy Reeve, Micah Gubler, and Chantelle Browning; Staff: Derek Imlay, Troylinn Benson, Kevin Bennett, Chief Ben Lee, and Christy Ballard; Public: Blair Gubler, Chief Tom Kuhlmann, Patti Decker, Anita DeMille, Jan Last, Bob Wilson, Steve Leavenworth, Amber White, Charlotte West, John DuCrest, Celeste Maloy, George Rodinos, Jim Soria, Hyrum Neizer, HoneyBee Brenchley, Mr. Simmons, and the Mangum Family
Kyle Gubler has been excused.
A. Called to Order – Invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance was given by Steve Leavenworth at 6:00pm
The Mangum family had not arrived yet.
1. County Resource Management Plan
Celeste Maloy was here to discuss two separate resource management plans. She was hired by the Washington County Attorney’s office to write Washington County’s Resource Management Plan so she is going to each of the municipalities to get input. Twenty-eight different areas need to be addressed in the Plan. She would like La Verkin to let her know what is important to this community and what they would like to see addressed in the Plan.
The idea behind the Resource Management Plan is to put something together that will guide the direction of our resources now and in the future. Right now, only Federal Agencies write resource management plans but they have to accommodate in their plan the local plan. That is why it is important for us to have a good, well-written plan with public input.
The other resource plan is the BLM’s Draft Resource Management Plan for the two national conservation areas in the County. The County Attorney would like to encourage citizens to comment on this plan. They would also like cities and towns to submit a substantive comment so that the BLM will have to address it, either by changing the Plan or explaining why the requested change was not made. The deadline for this comment is Thursday, October 15th.
Attached is a copy of her presentation. See Exhibit A.
Councilwoman Browning asked about the feedback from citizens to this point.
Celeste replied most feedback the BLM has received is to not affect the tortoise. However, many of those comments are from environmental groups sending out notices to their supporters all around the world, already filled out so the person only has to sign, address and mail in the response.
The Washington County Attorney’s office has made it just as easy for citizens to submit a comment by going to their website.
Recognitions: The Mangum family has arrived. The Mayor presented Susan and her daughter with a certificate of appreciation and gift card for their work on the seed display for the Washington County Fair.
2. Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader
JJ Tanner has been excused, Jan Last will be presenting in his place.
Steve Leavenworth reported the third graders from 2014 scored the highest in the District in math and the third highest in language arts. He is proud of the progress the students have made since beginning this project.
Jan is a kindergarten teacher at La Verkin Elementary. She has noticed the growth in her students since the start of the program. Each child in the school has a leadership position.
She thanked La Verkin for the monetary donation last year. The Legislature promised a certain amount of money for people participating in the Leader in Me program but has since renegotiated and now there is not that financial support. The school has decided to continue to move forward with the program so any support would be appreciated.
On October 22, 2015 from 10am-11am, there will be another leadership/community event. Jan explained the program and invited the Councilmembers and staff to participate.
D. Consent Agenda: (Items on the consent agenda may not require discussion. These items will be a single motion unless removed at the request of the Mayor or City Council.)
1. Declarations of conflict of interest
3. Minutes: September 2, 2015 regular meeting minutes
4. Review Invoices and Checks: $187,585.48
Motion was made by Councilman Richard Hirschi to approve the consent agenda as written including the September 2, 2015 regular meeting minutes and the checks and invoices in the amount of $187,585.48 second by Councilwoman Chantelle Browning. Roll Call Vote: Reeve-yes, Gubler-yes, Hooten-yes, Hirschi-yes, Browning-yes. Motion carried unanimously.
E. Committee Reports:
1. Planning Commission-Councilman Hirschi reported there has not been a meeting. It has been rescheduled for October 28.
2. Water Board-No meeting.
3. Sewer Board-Blair reported the District is still discussing septic tanks. They did receive some direction and continue to move forward.
The District signed an agreement with John Deere to get some new backhoes.
They also began planning for next year’s budget.
4. Fire District-Chief Kuhlmann reported they are getting the La Verkin fire station ready to begin the project. They will try to work around the apparatus.
There is a meeting with the CIB in September to discuss financing for an apparatus to service the hotels in La Verkin.
The County is in the process of dissolving the Leeds Area Special Service District and placing their boundaries in the HVFSSD.
Councilman Hirschi mentioned that when the military was here helping Colorado City, they stayed at the fire stations.
F. Citizen Comment & Request for Future Agenda Items:
John DuCrest-He asked if “The Beautiful Valley” was the official town moto, if so, he wondered why the sign coming into La Verkin says “the bridge to Zion”. There are 31/2 million people a year that come through here traveling to Zion National Park. A bridge is a structure used to get from point A to point B. There have been some great things done in La Verkin; to him it is a beautiful valley. It doesn’t feel like a bridge to Zion. He feels it would be beneficial to allocate funds to change the sign to state the town moto.
Mr. DuCrest would be willing to present the idea formally during a city council meeting if they would like it on an agenda.
Bob Wilson-is a resident of Virgin. He has been volunteering at the animal shelter for the past 4 years. He is here today to show support for Mr. Rodinos who is asking for a beer and wine license. He and Mr. Rodinos have been neighbors and friends for the last 9 years. George is a wonderful person. The Stage Coach Grille is a very good restaurant. He is in favor of George receiving the beer and wine license.
Mayor Gubler explained the public hearing for Mr. Rodinos is next on the agenda.
HoneyBee Brenchley -She stated she is not from the community but is part of the community. She would love to see the City Council of La Verkin and Toquerville get together and expand the services to include homeless cats and dogs. As it currently sets there is nothing offered to help the cat problem situation. The shelter is small and is not set up to even take in a litter of kittens. She knows people feel the area has a country type atmosphere but the community is growing and there are a lot more resources. She suggested looking for a grant to expand the facility. She was told that at its conception, the facility was promised to be the best. As it sets now, it is run wonderfully but La Verkin does have a cat problem and there is no place for the kittens to go.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is not far but both communities have let the problem fall on the shoulders of private citizens and private money. Citizens have been taking these animals into their homes.
Susan Baird has individually saved and re-homed thousands of this cities animals, mainly cats.
The shelter does great with dogs.
Susan is no longer on Best Friends priority list because they are having financial problems with how many animals there are. The priority list for Best Friends is now shelters, like the one in La Verkin but La Verkin doesn’t take cats.
The shelter receives calls every day asking if they take cats. She feels it is a disservice to the community to leave all of the responsibility to private citizens. She enjoys helping out but feels it needs to be treated like a community problem because it is one. If there is a way to expand the La Verkin shelter to include cats then they could get to Best Friends.
This is a farming community and a lot of farmers have the idea that they are just cats, they can be mousers which is very outdated thinking.
The adoption events and fundraisers are all done by private citizens because the community, the board, the leadership have turned their back on the issue.
Let’s see if there are some grants to expand the facility.
Mr. Simmons-Supports everything HoneyBee just said. His experience is with a stray that showed up in his yard. He was afraid she would end up pregnant so he contacted Patti who helped him get her taken care of. He contacted several different agencies and they are all overwhelmed and won’t take in other cities animals. He completely supports the proposition and would like the Council to please consider it.
He also thanked Celeste Maloy for her incredible and troubling presentation. He is very troubled about the encroachment in our personal lives and our territory. The citizens of Utah should control the lands. He is very interested in helping any way he can.
G. Public Hearing:
1. Class B liquor license application-George Rodinos, Stage Coach Grille
The public hearing opened at 6:50pm.
Charlotte West-Has been a citizen of La Verkin for 3 years. She has known Mr. Rodinos for many years prior to that. He and his wife are of good character and have good standing in the community. She does work for Mr. Rodinos and has seen both the friendship and employer side of the Rodinos’. The Stage Coach is setting a great example for their employees and the community with their values. She sees no reason why they should not get a liquor license. It will help the income for this community and those that work there.
John DuCrest-He has known George for a little while, has watched him build his business from the ground up. The atmosphere at the Stage Coach Grille is very professional. It doesn’t strike him to be a place where people will go to get drunk, it feels like a restaurant, not a bar and won’t attract that type of crowd. George is an extremely hard worker and is respected by those that work for him. John has a lot of respect for him also.
Jim Soria-is a business owner in La Verkin. He feels allowing George to receive his beer and wine license would be good for La Verkin as a whole. There are so many tourists staying in La Verkin, more when the new hotel is open. The vast majority of these people want to have wine or beer with their meal. It is part of their culture, part of their life it’s not about getting drunk. He has a beer license at his coffee shop and has not had one incident yet with people over consuming. People just want to enjoy their meal, the atmosphere and have a beverage. He doesn’t feel this will bring any harm to the community. There won’t be people getting over intoxicated and driving down the streets creating mayhem.
Amber White-is a resident of La Verkin. She is a regular at both Stage Coach Grille and River Rock Roasting Company. She does not drink beer with her lunch but would for dinner. She was at Stage Coach Grille a few evenings ago when a couple from out of state asked her if they served beer, so the need is there. She is in favor of issuing a beer and wine license to George.
Patti Decker-She would like to show her support for George and the Stage Coach Grille. The business is doing very well and she feels it would be a nice addition for all of the reasons previously stated. She doesn’t personally drink but that doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy a beer or glass of wine with their meal.
Hyrum Neizer-is a resident of La Verkin. The cat issue is a real issue and he agrees with what has been said.
He gets many visitors from out of state that don’t like to have to drive so far to get a drink. It takes away from the atmosphere; he thinks a liquor license at a restaurant would be a good idea, especially in such a nice restaurant.
George Rodinos-is the owner of the Stage Coach Grille. He is very moved will all of the support. He would only like to add he has complied with a slew of paperwork for the State and the City. He and his wife have spent their life savings putting in the restaurant and it truly is a restaurant. It is not a dollar hot dog and beer type establishment. It is fine dining. He would like to emphasize the beer and wine is just a compliment to the menu, the food is the main attraction. They do get a lot of tourists as well as locals.
He hopes the Council will vote in favor of issuing him the beer and wine license.
The public hearing closed at 7:00pm.
1. Discussion and possible action concerning the Stage Coach Grille Class B Liquor License.
Councilman Hirschi stated he is in favor of issuing the license. He doesn’t drink beer but there are a lot of people that travel through La Verkin that do. His main concern is that people consume too much alcohol and then drive but that doesn’t seem to be an issue with River Rock.
Councilman Hooten stated he remembered when River Rock received their beer license and since that time, he has not heard one negative comment or incident because of the license. He has been to the Stage Coach Grille several times and doesn’t feel it would be a place people would go to just set down and drink. He is in favor of issuing the license.
Councilwoman Browning mentioned she is not in favor of people drinking and then driving and she doesn’t feel it was an honest statement that people won’t drink and then drive, drunk driving accidents happen all the time. She does realize that while she doesn’t drink, there are other people that do enjoy having a drink with their meal and she doesn’t feel the City should prohibit people from being able to have the drink.
Motion was made by Councilman Richard Hirschi to give approval for a Class B liquor license for the Stage Coach Grille, second by Councilman Randy Reeve. Roll Call Vote: Browning-yes, Hirschi-yes, Hooten-yes, Gubler-yes, Reeve-yes. Motion carried unanimously.
2. Discussion and possible action to approve Ordinance No. 2015-09; An ordinance amending Ordinance No. 2015-08, to set the amount of the City’s administrative fee established and identified in section 4A-4-6 of the La Verkin City Code; and providing an effective date.
Mayor Gubler explained La Verkin would add eighteen cents, like the surrounding communities, making the fee $4.00 a month for the program. He is not sure it will cover the expense.
The Council would just need to amend this ordinance if it was determined eighteen cents was not enough.
Troylinn said as of today, there have been 175 citizens out of 1,500 that have opted-out.
The first 60 days will be the most time consuming for the billing department, and then again in January.
Motion was made by Councilman Ken Hooten to approve Ordinance No. 2015-09, an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 2015-08, setting the amount of the City’s administrative fee to $.18 per resident, established and identified in section 4A-4-6 of the La Verkin City Code and providing an effective date, second by Councilman Richard Hirschi. Roll Call Vote: Browning-no, Hirschi-yes, Hooten-yes, Gubler-yes, Reeve-yes. Motion passes.
I. Staff. Mayor & Council Reports:
Kyle has been excused but did email his report to the Councilmembers.
Public Safety- Chief Ben Lee
He just finished the hiring process to replace Officer Bulkley. There were only two qualified applicants, which was disappointing. Ross Fackler, one of our current reserve officers, was hired and will begin October 19th. The training process will be about 2-4 months.
Officer Bulkley was the departments’ liaison for the Utah Criminal Justice Information System, which enables the officers to access criminal histories, etc. It is very expensive to train someone for that position so he contacted St. George dispatch who has allowed La Verkin to “piggy back” on their license. The same services will be provided but it will not cost the City anything.
Chief Lee was also able to secure two grants for the year. One is a $2,000 JAG grant to help with much needed equipment. The second is the Beer Tax grant. He is also applying for a third, Highway Safety grant that will help with equipment and overtime DUI shifts. The Department has been receiving about eight shifts per quarter. Two of those shifts have resulted in a DUI arrest.
They are continuing to deal with fleet issues. The Ford Explorer has been down for over a week.
Councilwoman Browning asked if the code enforcement position would need to be filled now that Officer Fackler will be full time.
Chief replied the position is open.
The current code doesn’t mention how much a reserve officer in La Verkin should make. He would like to increase the dollar amount we offer to attract more people. Several people have approached him from different agencies interested in working with La Verkin but $12 an hour isn’t enough to make it worth their time.
Right now, Chief is trying to absorb some of the cost of Officer Bulkley leaving so he is not going to fill the code enforcement position.
Officer Fackler has requested he still be reserve until his official start date.
The other officers have been assigned code enforcement type tasks as well.
Councilman Hooten mentioned the traffic has not slowed down with the end of the tourist season. There are still have several people speeding and driving through the traffic signal every day. Is there a way an officer could spend more time doing traffic enforcement on Center Street and State Street when the school kids are leaving?
Chief replied it is his objective to have an officer there during the busy times. However, there are usually only two officers on duty during that time and sometimes they are in the middle of a call.
He does appreciate the great job the crossing guards do and it is one of his goals to see how La Verkin can get flashing signs or a radar trailer.
Councilman Hooten would like to attend the next State Transportation Board meeting to discuss the situation. Something needs to be done before a child gets hurt.
Director of Operations-Derek Imlay
Derek passed out an Irrigation water usage sheet for September and a turbidity information sheet.
Congratulated Kyle on his new granddaughter.
Lisia Hueckstaedt is the new utility billing clerk and is catching on very quickly. The office has been getting more calls than usual due to the new recycling program so there have been two receptionists at the front.
Mayor Gubler-Invited the Councilmembers to a luncheon on November 2nd.
Browning-Has not had a meeting since the Council last met.
She thanked Chief Lee for being pro-active in securing grants and Derek’s crew for being so efficient on getting water breaks fixed. She would also like the Councilmembers to think about re-doing the policy on flextime. It leaves the City short staffed.
Hirschi- Nothing to report.
Hooten-Nothing to report.
Gubler-Nothing to report.
Reeve-Nothing to report.
Motion was made by Councilwoman Chantelle Browning to adjourn, second by Councilman Ken Hooten. Motion carried unanimously at 7:23pm.
Minutes were taken on behalf of the City Recorder by Christy Ballard.