The Kanab City Council was visited by members of the Kanab Chamber of Commerce and County Commissioners Dirk Clayson and Jim Matson in a discussion of how to attract new business ventures to the area.

 Colette Cox, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and employed at Work Force Services, felt the city, county and state need to work together to promote opportunities for new businesses coming to Kanab and bringing. 

“We have a lot of people in this community that want to work, including those that are currently receiving state assistance,” Cox said. She went on to say that the county needed to be aware and involved in Arizona Strip employment issues. She finished by saying; “We also need to address advanced educational opportunities for our young people.”    

A member of the audience quipped that free enterprise needs to be promoted to create jobs and that we can’t rely on government entities to produce them. (Note: If people would state their full names as requested by Mayor Laycook when making a comment, I would be able to attribute quotes.)

Commissioner Clayson stated, “We are doing a lot, but not enough in the county to attract businesses. We’ve got to chase leads, and we need a point man or committee to do this. Target the right type of businesses for Kanab and go after them.”

Commissioner Matson noted, “We have drawbacks in competing with other communities seeking new and relocating companies like a more remote location, infrastructure and lack of a natural gas supply, so we need some specific reason for businesses to want to come here and that is often a personal connection to this area.” 

The city council and county commissioners agreed to set up a task force to reach a consensus on a game plan to promote the area to business leaders and solicit businesses that would be suitable for this area. 

The county also agreed in principle to utilize and help fund the Park and Recreation Director position, which the city has committed $35,000 to in next year’s budget.

It was felt that steps like these would go a long way toward dispelling the notion that city and county officials don’t often get along.

Revising the business license ordinance was brought to the table by City Manager Duane Huffman to answer questions from business owners like; “What is the purpose of the license and what are the fees collected used for.”

Huffman said Kanab’s business license ordinance needed a complete overhaul and suggested a three-step process for doing so.  “Number one,” he said, “we need to define it’s purpose or what we want to accomplish with it, whether it be collection of sales tax, zoning issues, fire codes or whatever. Then we need to restructure the fee base (currently $50 plus $10 for each employee).  And finally how do we implement the new ordinance.”

Representatives from the Forest Service outlined a new Resource Management Plan that has not been updated since 1988.

Forest ecologist, Ariel Leonard, identified four foundations of the new plan. Restoring the forest stand, density and fire regime to frequent fire adapted forest status by mechanical thinning and prescribed and naturally ignited fires. Promoting aspen regeneration and establishing new growth areas by fencing off ungulates and reducing conifer encroachment. Restoring historic extent of grasslands and improving grassland habitats by reducing tree density and modifying fencing. Protecting and restoration of natural waters by protecting springs and restoring wetlands. There are no big changes to recreation opportunities or grazing patterns.

The fire danger is extremely high on the South Kaibab and high on the North Kaibab forests now, and fires are banned in all areas of the Kaibab National Forest. Everyone using the forest has the responsibility of protecting it. Conditions are similar to those six years ago with the Warm Fire conflagration, according to Fire Management Specialist Holly Klingdeer. “It will take 100 to 200 years for the forest to recover from that fire and we learned that we do not start prescribed burns when the forest understory is that dry.  There will be no prescribed burns this year,” she said.

In other city business, the issuance of a limited liquor license (beer and wine) to the Mediterranean Table restaurant was addressed, with owner Elizabeth Berkhoudt present.

The restaurant lies just outside the 200 foot distance required by the state to be from a school or church; in this case the LDS church at Center and Main streets. But it is within 600 feet of the church, which requires a variance from the state dependent on the city endorsing that variance, which it did, and will send this recommendation to the state. Berkhoudt said her restaurant would not open on Sundays until 4 p.m. so as not to have any conflict with people attending church services.

The council adopted the city’s operating budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 without having to transfer funds from the Water and Sewer account to the General Fund as considered previously.  The main topic of discussion involved replacement of the city’s police and fire department vehicles.

Police Chief Tom Cram presented the council with a lease option for his department’s vehicles.  By trading in all of the city’s police cars, including a new truck acquired this past year, and leasing six fully-equipped patrol cars, it would cost the city nothing in the first year of the lease, $5,000 the second year and then $44,000 in subsequent years ($42,000 if they leased trucks, which have some advantages).  The vehicles would be turned over every two years, and all maintenance costs would be borne by the leasing company. 

A new police car at a cost of $24,000 was budgeted for next year, with an ongoing yearly request for a new vehicle in following years. Adding yearly maintenance costs and factoring in vehicle depreciation and equipment updates, the difference at the $44,000 lease level and that of the current vehicle replacement plan was only $4-6,000 per year depending on the vehicles leased. This was not considered a significant difference when you consider equipment is updated every two years as well.

The council voted to lease vehicles and included the fire chief’s vehicle in the resolution. The monies budgeted for 2012-2013 for a new patrol car and vehicle maintenance and repair will revert back to the General Fund to help offset other expenses.