Headlines Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Feelin’ the Love’s
Work has begun on the Love’s Travel Stop and Holiday Inn Express Hotel on west Forest Street just east of I-15 in Brigham City. The project is expected to be completed sometime in mid 2017, and will feature a convenience store, facilities for professional drivers and a fast food restaurant.
Local cities approve bigger 2016-17 budgets
By Nelson Phillips
The 2016-2017 fiscal year for Utah cities begins on July 1, and local municipalities have been busy forecasting revenues, establishing priorities and adapting to new revenue accounting practices in an effort to meet the June 22 budget deadline, as established by the legislature.
The largest accounting change has come with funds from the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) tax, which is money cities don’t collect and never see, but that they now must account for in their respective budgets, making the revenues and expenditures look larger than they actually are.
Other accounting practices, some old and some new, require city budgets to record money transferred or paid from one fund and spent in another as actual revenues and expenditures in both funds. This has the effect of counting the same money twice, even though it was only raised and spent once.
For example, the 2016-17 storm drain fund budget in Brigham City shows a transfer from the public utilities fund of $153,885. That money has been counted as projected revenue for both funds, and also as a projected expense for both funds. Monies paid in leases or charged as paid services from one fund to another also double-account. The rules are ostensibly in place to allow for greater transparency of, and accountability in, individual city funds.
“We’ve got over 12 million dollars in double-accounting for next year’s budget,” said Brigham City Administrator Jason Roberts, formerly the city’s finance director. “So when we say a $50 million budget, we’re actually looking at about 38 million in real dollars.”
Conservation program saves school district $233k in energy costs
By Sean Hales
An analysis of an energy efficiency program started last year shows Box Elder School District saved more than $233,000 between April 2015-April 2016.
The district entered into a five-year contract with Cenergistic, an energy conservation company, in February of 2015. As part of the program, Cenergistic placed an employee with the district who analyzes the district’s systems and employee behaviors and identify opportunities for energy cost savings without any capital investment to upgrade or retro-fit old equipment. In many cases, it’s simply a case of making sure district employees are being energy conscious—making sure lights and other energy-consuming devices are off and/or unplugged when not being used—and that heating systems are only running when necessary.
It’s just a little bit of savings here and there, but “over time, all those little, small savings add up,” said Box Elder School District Superintendent Ron Tolman.
When the district entered into the agreement, Cenergistic estimated savings of approximately $309,000 annually, and about $3.78 million dollars in the first 10 years of the program.
The district will pay Cenergistic $150,000 per year for five years. The fee is designed to be paid out of the energy cost savings, and the district will not be on the hook for the fee unless Cenergistic saves the district at least $150,000 in energy costs each year of the contract.
That means the district kept about $83,000 of the savings over expected energy costs.
It’s a little short of the savings promised by Cenergistic but Tolman said that indicates something positive.
“That indicates the district was doing a pretty good job before they [Cenergistic] came,” said Tolman, who added that the district has been able to realize 10-11 percent savings instead of the 40-50 percent realized by some of Cenergistic’s clients.
Tolman said the district is pleased with the results so far, both for the financial benefits of saving money—“The responsible thing to do is to stretch those taxpayer dollars as far as you can,” Tolman said—and the societal benefits of being environmentally responsible. According to the 12-month report from April, the district has conserved 13,519646 kBTU (kilo-British thermal units), or 1,561 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s equivalent to taking 304 passenger cars off the road for a whole year and the 10-year growth of 37,458 tree seedlings.
BC imposes summer fire restrictions
As of July 1 Brigham City will re-implement fire restrictions in areas of the city that interface with dry undeveloped areas prone to fires. The restrictions and areas are unchanged from last year, and prohibit:
Open fires of any kind, except campfires built within the facilities provided for them in approved campgrounds, picnic areas, or permanently improved places of habitation.
Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or in an area at least three (3) feet in diameter that is barren or cleared to mineral soils.
Discharging, or using any kind of fireworks or tracer ammunition or other pyrotechnic devices.
Operating a chainsaw without spark arresters, operating motorized equipment for any purpose.
Operating any motorized vehicle off designed roads or trails.
Blasting, welding, or any other activities which generate flames or flammable materials.
Perry City is considering a fireworks restriction east of US-89 at their next City Council meeting, scheduled for June 23. Willard City has not yet announced any restrictions.
BC nixes idea for in-house recycling program
Citing costs and the low market rate for recyclables, Councilmember DJ Bott of the Brigham City Council announced at last Thursday’s meeting that the city would not be moving ahead with its own recycling program.
The city has been studying the issue with a task force headed by Bott, and came to a determination that it just wasn’t economically feasible for the city at this time.
“When comparing to our neighboring cities, Perry, Tremonton and in Cache Valley, we noticed that they were seeing a 40 to 50 percent ‘opt-out’ in their recycling programs,” said Bott. “If 50 percent of Brigham City residents opted out, the city would have to charge $8.44 a month in-house just to break even.”
The city is still open to the idea of a private company providing curbside recycling to Brigham City residents, Bott said, if one could be found that could keep residential rates low enough to be worthwhile. City staff has been directed to put requests for proposals out to see if anyone would be interested.
Weber County woman injured in ATV rollover
A Weber County mother was injured on Saturday when the 4-wheeler she was riding, along with her husband and two pre-teen children, all riding on the same 4-wheeler, rolled on the way down Willard Peak Road.
According to James Morgan of Utah State Parks, the entire family was riding a single ATV Saturday around noon, riding downhill about a mile north of Perry Reservoir when the ATV rolled over.
“The dad and daughter had minor injuries, just scrapes and things like that. The mom and son had more injuries,” said Morgan, who continued that the son was checked for a concussion, but the mother had multiple injuries and complained of back pain. They were transported by ambulance to Brigham City Community Hospital.
Morgan continued that no one was wearing helmets, in addition to having four people on the ATV. The parents received citations for failure to have helmets on their minor children.
Speed was not a factor, but the steepness of the road, along with an overloaded ATV “just may have contributed” to the accident.
One child dead, one serious after rollover
There was yet another fatal accident on a Utah highway Saturday night, as a 10-year-old boy was ejected from a van that rolled on I-84 eight miles east of Snowville.
According to the Utah Highway Patrol, a Lake Stevens, Washington family of eight was travelling eastbound in the inside lane near mile marker 15, when at about 9:23 p.m. the female driver became distracted and drifted into the median. The driver over-corrected, rolling the 2014 Toyota Sienna at least one and a half times, coming to rest on its roof on the right side of the interstate.
“During the rollover a male child, ten years old, who was not wearing his seat belt was ejected and died on scene,” said UHP Lt. Lee Perry. “Another male child, nine years old, was also not wearing his seat belt and was partially ejected and seriously injured.” The nine-year-old was transported by air ambulance to Primary Children\’s Hospital in serious but stable condition.
The female driver and adult male passenger, along with four other children, were all properly restrained and suffered only minor injuries. They were transported by ground ambulance to Bear River Valley Hospital, where they were treated, released, and then taken by the UHP to Salt Lake City to be with their son.
Over 20 people have lost their lives on Utah highways since Memorial Day.
Jail officers, workers, to get use of force training
The Box Elder County Commission on Wednesday approved a request by Jail Commander Sandy Huthman to begin online training of her employees through DACOTA, which stands for Detention and Corrections Online Training Academy. The course is intended to teach conflict resolution techniques as well as proper uses of force that jail personnel may employ.
“DACOTA curriculum is based on applicable case law to ensure course content is defensible and current to what the courts will require of those who operate detention and correctional facilities,” writes the National Institute for Jail Operations, which developed the course, on its website.
“This is something I’ve done before, and now it’s online,” said Huthman, who added that it would save her time as well as training costs.
“The say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Commissioner Stan Summers. “If you do the prevention part, it could save a lot down the road.”
County ratifies tax sale
Twenty-three parcels of tax-delinquent property were auctioned off by the county in May, and on June 15 those sales were approved and finalized by the Box Elder County Commission.
According to County Auditor Tom Kotter, the amount of back taxes that was owed on the properties totaled $7,890, and the auction brought $54,377.
“That surplus will be sent down to the state surplus property, where it can be claimed,” said Kotter. “All we do is collect the outstanding taxes, fees and interest.”
By policy, the county generally gives a landowner five years before it auctions off property to collect back taxes.