City Council 9-24-19

City Engineer Chuck Williams presents a plan for a safety crosswalk to the council. [Photo by Rachel Fixsen / Moab Sun News]

The Moab City Council held its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 24. They heard an update from Grand County Emergency Medical Services Special Service District and discussed amending the Master Fee schedule, tweaking rules for city parks, and designating a school crosswalk outside the Moab Charter School.

EMS REPORT

Grand County Emergency Medical Services Director Andy Smith, along with EMS board members Jason Taylor and Elizabeth Tubbs, made a case for increased financial support from the city.

While the need for EMS has grown in recent years⁠—Smith reported that ambulance usage has increased by fifty-eight percent in the last decade⁠—the service will not be able to count on the funding they’ve received from Grand County in the past.

For 2019, Grand County allocated 317,000 dollars to EMS, but next year the county needs to budget some of that money to address problems with storm drainage.

They will only be providing half that amount to EMS for 2020, Smith said, and the organization is looking for a source to make up the difference.

In addition, the organization reported it has secured just under five million dollars from Utah’s Community Impact Board to build a new facility for its staff and equipment.

“With that came an issue: we don’t have property,” said Smith. “We are currently in the process of looking for a property.”

Once a suitable location for the new facility is found, Smith advised the council that EMS would request an exemption from parking requirements. Smith said both parcels being considered are within city limits.

Smith said the other request EMS would be making of the city council is for greater financial support for the service in the 2020 fiscal year.

“We’d like to come in during the budgeting process and request some help in the next year,” Smith told the council. “Maybe see if we can talk the city into jumping on board with helping to fund some of this service.”

Mayor Emily Niehaus responded cautiously.

“We’re doing our best to create partnerships and reach out beyond our valley to understand what resources we have to be able to get organized,” she said. “There could be an opportunity where we can look for funding that’s maybe not in our valley, but outside of our valley, and perhaps this presentation and this narrative that you’ve been sharing... is going to help us get those dollars.”

She noted that GCEMS provides services outside of Moab and even outside of Grand County.

MASTER FEE SCHEDULE

City Manager Joel Linares reported that the city is working on a Master Fee Schedule, a document where residents can easily find listed costs for all city services, permits, and fines.

The council considered Proposed Ordinance 2019-24, which explains that current fees for city services are listed in many different places, resulting in confusion and inconsistency.

At the same time as the fees are being centralized, city staff is reevaluating existing fees.

Councilmember Kalen Jones had concerns about a fee on residential long-term rental business licenses, while Councilmember Karen Guzman-Newton questioned dramatic fee hikes for special event permits and large fines for civil code violations.

For example, she noted that the fine for illegally camping in a vehicle on city property would be six hundred and fifty dollars a day.

The council voted to approve the schedule with the understanding that fees will be reevaluated early next year during the budgeting process. The fee for residential long-term rental business licenses was temporarily suspended.

“Going forward, this will be brought to you every May,” Linares said.

SCHOOL CROSSWALK

City Engineer Chuck Williams presented a study and recommendation for a designated school crosswalk at 300 South and 400 East, next to the Moab Charter School.

The Engineering Department conducted studies of pedestrian and motor traffic at the intersection and concluded that it does merit school crosswalk status.

Williams noted that during their study, his staff observed students crossing the street with their parents along the entire block. The study also showed between three and five thousand vehicles a day on that street.

“Right now, it’s an unsafe situation,” Williams said.

In addition to a specific striping pattern on the road, the crossing will have special signage and be eligible for a school crossing guard during school opening and closing times.

“I’m recommending that we make this 300 South a school crosswalk,” Williams told the council after explaining the process. “Then as it moves forward, we need to communicate with the charter school, that they do a little parent outreach program to get the kids to use it.”