Is Logan City profiting from sewer fees charged to area cities?

Logan City may be charging an eight percent profit on sewer services for neighboring communities. Transfers — discovered by Nibley City Manager, Larry Anhder and Smithfield City Manager, Jim Gass — from the Logan Sewer Treatment fund to the Logan General fund were $291,296 in 2008, $291,396 in 2009 and $302,080 proposed for 2010.

Gass reported these findings Wednesday evening to the city council. He said that all the city managers from the affected communities met with Logan officials and asked, “What is this transfer out?”

“And they [Logan] said, ’That’s eight percent of our budget.’”

“And we said, ‘What does that represent,’ and they said, ’That’s our profit.’”

“So every dime we send to Logan for treatment they skim off the top eight percent and stick it in the general fund to use wherever they choose to use it,” added Gass.

Smithfield City currently pays $240,000 a year to Logan for the service, therefore, almost $20,000 is transferred into the Logan General Fund. Additionally, Logan is raising their rates so they can build a $10,000,000 fund for upgrading the treatment lagoons.

“We [the surrounding cities] made a decision that we’re not going to be sending [Logan] that money,” continued Gass “We’re going to hold that money ourself until when project presents itself then we will make our contribution to the project.”

“Their finance director, Rich Anderson, said, ’We’re not going to let you do that.’”

Update: Gass reports that Rich Anderson never said that directly to the city managers. The city staff they met with reported that Rich told them that he would not let cities collect their own money, but would have to send it to Logan.

The cities all have agreements to pay for the sewer service only. “This is considered an essential public service,” said Gass. “They’re not running a McDonald’s where they are looking for a profit. They are supposed to provide the service for what it costs to provide the service.”

“We need the involvement of elected officials,” recommended Gass. He suggested that all the city mayors and managers meet with Mayor Watts to discuss the sewer agreements. The paperwork behind this is very complicated and there is room for justification for all these charges. But Gass says he’s having a hard time reconciling it right now.

Summit Drive

Councilman Michael Oliverson reported on his findings to improve pedestrian safety on a portion of Summit Drive. Options include creating a striped walkway on the road, similar to a bike lane. No parking would be allowed on both sides of the road during school hours. Or they could work to create a sidewalk through the area.

However, the city has never installed sidewalks in areas that never had them before. Also, installing the sidewalk is not the expensive part. Tearing down and restoring the landscaping of all the yards the sidewalk crosses will be challenging and fairly expensive.

It was decided that Gass and Oliverson would inspect the area again, write up a proposal for both solutions and then the city would meet with area residents for their input.

Library report

The Smithfield City Library will celebrate it’s 90th anniversary in 2011. The library board said they hoped the city will celebrate this milestone.

Interesting facts about the library:

  • 47,657 visits last year
  • 115 programs such as reading and lectures
  • 3,370 attendees to these programs
  • 12 computers
  • 4550 people used the computers
  • 1591 audio materials
  • 780 videos and DVDs
  • 27,846 books and other printed material
  • 571 music, maps and other items
  • 90,000+ circulation of books this year
  • 300 new families signed up this year

UPDATE: Marilyn Benavidas, Smithfield Librarian, gave the report to the council. After her report, Benavidas gave special thanks to the library board — Karen Cripps (chairperson), Arnold Nielsen, Michael Nielsen, Heather Housley and Patty Bingham. Plus she thanked the hard work of library employees Karen Bowling, the children’s librarian, and Kathy Downs, assistant librarian.

After their report the council was asked about the new library. Did the new public safety building get put on the land originally identified for the library? No, said Mayor Simmons, the new police station is on land west of the proposed library site. He also added that with the old city offices empty, they could tear them down and build the new library by the old one — right on Main Street.

The council was also asked why they built the police station instead of the library. Simmons said the bad economy dried up high dollar donations for the new library. It will take time to build up the funds to construct the library. Gass said the police station costs a seventh of the price for a new library. The new station will be very conservatively built without a lot of amenities.

What about the proposed county-wide library? Simmons said that area mayors are not opposed to a county-wide system where residents in one community can use the library in another. He did say he and the other mayors are opposed to the initiative currently on the ballot.

“It appears you are voting for a tax to build a county library,” said Simmons. “In fact, the vote is to continue to research whether a county-wide library will work. Right now there are too many holes [in the proposal] to support it. We are pro-county library, but not this library.”

Tree trimming

The council named Chad Kendrick as Tree Warden for Smithfield City. The council also discussed how to keep city trees trimmed. Councilman Brent Buttars said that some trees are so large that you sometimes have to pull out onto the street to see around them.

Gass reported that they will remove some old, dead trees this winter, but the cost is actually quite high — $10,000 to $20,000. The council discussed how they can get cooperation from residents to help keep the trees trim.