Council Poised To Tackle Higher Water Rates, Library Construction

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The water department's request for a water rate increase is back, and this time the Payson Town Council will be asked to make it official by passing a notice of intent to raise rates. The council will consider the issue during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in Town Hall.

The council supported an increase in the water department's basic monthly service charge from $13.65 to $18.65 during a special meeting last week. The 6 to 1 vote in favor of the increase was characterized by Deputy Town Attorney Jeffrey Blilie as providing "direction for the notice of intention."

In requesting the action by the council, Public Works Director Buzz Walker pointed out that inflation, water conservation programs, and unfunded state and federal government mandates for measures such as water disinfection and treatment have outpaced the department's operating revenues.

"We are facing future needs for expenditures on the order of $2,750,000 over the next four years to comply with new federal mandates for disinfection and radon removal," he said.

Walker said an across-the-board increase is needed because, "We have increased consumption-related charges two times over the last two years for customers who use more than 10,000 gallons per month."

This increase, he said, should raise an additional $375,000 to $400,000 per year, "and will allow for at least two years before we need to adjust the rates again."

A public hearing on the proposed rate increase will be held at the council's regular 6 p.m. meeting Thursday, Oct. 26.

Also on the agenda is a first reading and public hearing on a proposal for governing the use of the gazebo at Green Valley Park, which is currently greatly restricted.

The council will consider language changes that open the gazebo to all comers, striking from chapter 11 of the town code all references to "religious ceremonies," "religious services," or "political purposes." Also stricken is wording requiring a permit for "activities not sponsored or conducted by a town resident."

When the council last visited the issue during its Aug. 24 meeting, Blilie told the council, "You can either open the gazebo to everybody, or you can close it to everybody."

Library on the agenda

Another item on the council agenda is a request filed by Town Manager Rich Underkofler to approve construction plans and specifications and to authorize competitive bids for a new Payson Public Library to be built at Rumsey Park. The plans and specifications were submitted by Enyart Architects last month and were reviewed by the Project Policy Committee at its Aug. 31 meeting.

The council will be asked to authorize a $1.5-million debt for the project, with the remainder of the $2.3 million project to be financed by cash saved in the capital project fund. Payson Library Friends is paying for the furniture, furnishings and new equipment from contributions and grants presently valued at more than $300,000.

Debt service payments would be paid by the town's general fund at a cost of $212,000 a year over a term of 10 years. Additional staffing and utilities are estimated to increase the town's operating budget by about $50,000 a year.

The construction contract is scheduled to be awarded at the Oct. 26 council meeting.

"If all goes according to Hoyle, construction should begin within 30 days of accepting the bid," Payson Library Director Terry Morris said.

According to Underkofler, the new library "should be substantially complete and ready for occupancy by July 1, 2001."

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