Ivins council discusses curbside recycling, RAP tax spending, budget priorities

IVINS – Curbside recycling, budget priorities and RAP tax spending topped the discussion at the Ivins City Council meeting Thursday evening.

After a lengthy discussion about curbside recycling, the council informally agreed that it may be best to “bite the bullet” and mandate curbside recycling, in order to keep costs for residents down in the long run.

The Washington County Solid Waste District is looking at implementing a countywide recycling program, Councilman Cheyne McDonald said. The opt-out option, which would allow residents to decline the service, is popular in some communities, he said.

“The struggle with the opt-out option is that you have to get at least 50 percent (of residents) to make it to the bid that we’ve had, in order to get a decent price,” Councilman Cheyne McDonald said.

The cheapest option is just to mandate it countywide,” he said, at about $2.65 per month.

“It’s one (option) that I actually hesitated to support at first, but lean towards now, just because the reports are that most communities that started with an opt-out program, within a few years were changed to mandated programs, and then the cost per resident was higher,”  McDonald said.

A recycling program would ultimately benefit county residents by extending the life of the landfill, which will be expensive to replace when it fills up, McDonald said.

Ivins and other Washington County communities are looking at mandating curbside recycling, and the county solid waste district would like to see that happen, McDonald said.

Some residents that already recycle using binnies are anxious to get curbside recycling, including Mayor Chris Hart. “At first it was only a couple of bags every two weeks,” Hart said. “Now it’s once every couple of weeks with five or six bags.”

“I get to dig through and stuff ’em in the little holes,” Hart said. “I would pay five times as much to not have to go stuff my bags full of recycleables into the binnies.

No final decision was made, as the waste district is simply soliciting opinions, and the issue will come up again in City Council several more times. The county is currently considering curbside recycling bids from Republic Services and Dixie Waste Services.

Budget priorities

The council had a preliminary discussion of budget priorities for the 2016 fiscal year, focusing on several parks projects which are not eligible for funding through impact fees.

“We have a lot of parks projects,” Finance Director Wally Ritchie said, “And they’re really expensive.”

Proposed or ongoing parks and recreation projects include the Desert Rose Park, a new skate park, a wall on 200 East, the Palisades Connection trail, Ivins Reservoir improvements, Red Rock Park and a Center Street wall and landscape project. All the projects don’t need to be done immediately, Ritchie said.

The city is also considering options for a dog park, to be potentially located on a piece of property south of Old Highway 91. The property under consideration would be acquired from the state’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.

Proposed expenses in public safety include a full-time paramedic, to work a day shift when volunteers are often unavailable; and promoting an animal control officer from part-time to full-time, with the expense potentially shared with Santa Clara City.

The council determined that more discussion needs to take place.

Transportation funding

The City Council passed a resolution encouraging the state to address comprehensive transportation funding. City officials support the Unified Transportation Plan, put together by the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority, and several other transportation organizations throughout the state, including the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Needed funding for infrastructure includes active transportation such as walking and biking, as well as roadways used by motorists. The city, along with other municipalities, is asking the state to secure funding for current and future transportation needs, as the current gas tax and other transportation funding sources will not be sufficient.

Read more: Civic leaders support campaign for additional transportation funding

The council, as do other small towns, objects to the distribution of funds under one of the options proposed for increasing transportation funding.

If the Legislature decides to increase sales tax for transportation, the council is concerned the funds would be distributed by points of sale, meaning the money collected is given back in proportion to where the tax is collected.

This puts small, mostly residential cities at a disadvantage – while they have just as many miles of roadway per capita as larger towns, they do not have the commercial development and retail stores that typically collect sales taxes. For example, in Southern Utah, 90 percent of the sales taxes are collected in St. George, Mayor Chris Hart said.

The council agreed to approve the resolution, with Hart to include a letter expressing the council’s concerns.

Recreation, Arts and Parks tax

Ivins City Council discussed the distribution of the city’s portion of the Recreation, Arts and Parks Tax. The RAP tax passed in the 2014 general election Nov. 5, and is a sales tax of one-tenth of one percent on nonfood, nonmedical purchases  – one penny for every $10. The county estimates the tax will generate $2.2 million per year to help fund recreational and cultural facilities and organizations.

While the city doesn’t expect any revenue from the tax until June, the council is trying to set up a formula or guidelines for distribution of the funds.

Parks and Recreation Director Benny Sorensen recommended simply dividing the RAP income equally into thirds for parks, recreation and arts. This formula is used by other cities in Utah, including St. George and Cedar City, he said. A grant process would be set up, and groups or city organizations could apply for funding.

People have to fill out the application, and essentially compete for the funds,” Sorensen said. The supervising agency, which could be the City Council or a separate board, would make the decisions and disburse the funds.

“We don’t know how much money we’re going to get, it will probably fluctuate from year to year,”Sorensen said.

The tax will start in April, and the city does not expect to see any RAP tax revenue until June.

Other business

The Council approved an agreement for Taviawk storm drainage improvements. The Taviawk Homeowners Association and Ivins City will split the cost of storm drainage improvements in the Taviawk subdivision, with the city’s contribution to be no more than $7,500.

Parks and Recreation Director Benny Sorensen reported good participation in a January meeting that was held to gauge interest in a skate, bike and scooter park. About 15 people showed up at the meeting and expressed interest in helping with the planning and construction process, Sorensen said, and several others contacted him after the meeting.

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