A joint meeting held on Tuesday, August 21, between the Kanab City Council, with Mayor Laycook, and the Kane County Commissioners, including Jim Matson, Dirk Clayson and Doug Heaton, to discuss issues of mutual concern yielded little resolution, but much resolve to find solutions acceptable to both governing bodies.

Five County Association of Governments Directors Gary Zabriskie and Ken Sizemore moderated the discussions on a new Senior/Activity Center in Kanab, joint sponsorship of a Recreation/Event Director, and improvements to the Kanab City Airport.

Both entities favor a new senior facility, which could also serve as a community activity center.  The senior center operates mostly on federal government support and grants from the Older Americans Act, which are projected to be cut 8.5-14% next fiscal year. Participants in senior programs donate what they can afford. Meals are prepared in Orderville for the 12-15 seniors eating at the center daily and the 30-40 being served at home. Nearly $107,000 has been spent in the past year preparing and serving these meals, with additional funds being spent on recreational activities for seniors.

Commissioner Clayson stated, “The missing element is a program for active seniors and a facility that exudes an atmosphere for social networking. We’re not looking for personnel to direct activities, but a building that seniors and others will enjoy utilizing. Other communities have improved their senior center facility, only to see increased usage and increased public and private revenues.”

The Council on Aging will meet in October to assess what it feels are the needs of the senior community, as largely expressed by seniors themselves and input their recommendations.

As with any project like this, funding a new facility is problematic. A grant from the Community Impact Board (CIB) could be sought by the city, but the county would have Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funds reduced by any CIB money they received.

 A Community Development Block grant directed towards low and middle income level people would be negated by having a multi-purpose center open to the general public.

 Tax increases were not palatable to either body.  “We wouldn’t propose a tax increase at this time for a new senior center,” said Clayson.

Councilman Ed Meyer followed saying, “We need to explore options other than a tax increase.”

An advisory committee comprised of Jim Matson, Craig Hansen, Faye Ann Christensen, Ed Meyer and Jim Sorensen will meet to discuss funding possibilities, facility location, ownership and operation of the center and the scope of services it will offer the public.

Kanab City has budgeted $35,000 in it’s fiscal year 2012-2013 budget to hire a qualified Recreation Director with the belief that Kane County would contribute the rest of the anticipated $58,000 cost of hiring this individual. Meyer refreshed the city’s action, saying, “Passing this budget item specified we find someone with a degree in recreation and/or considerable experience in the field to expand recreational activities.”

Councilwoman Cheryl Brown reminded the attendants that recreational activities are presently coordinated entirely by volunteers.  “These people do a great job, but they are getting burned out and we need to hire a professional to direct existing programs and develop new ones,’ she reiterated. No one in the community has surfaced with any experience in recreational planning. 

 The county commissioners struggled to come up with a funding source for their end of the arrangement – should it come to pass. Some of the county’s options could not be guaranteed to be ongoing yearly. 

Clayson brainstormed and offered up a viable suggestion saying, “Our portion could come from the Office of Tourism-Travel Council budget.” He felt that Ken Gotzen-Berg, the Tourism Director, could work well with a recreation/events coordinator to promote sporting and other events in Kane County communities.

Doug Heaton, a pilot himself, identified what he thought were items pilots considered when making the choice of what airports to utilize in their flight plans. ‘The runway conditions are number one,” said Heaton, “followed by nice restroom facilities, a comfortable lounge with TV, access to a phone and computer, reasonable gas prices and, the kicker, a complimentary courtesy car for local transportation.”  As an example of the last item, Heaton stated, “I really like the Richfield Airport because they have three courtesy cars for pilot use they offer up freely.”

Councilman Kirt Carpenter reiterated that the airport is a financial drain on the city budget now and all agreed that it would take a yearly financial infusion of at least $50,000 to have it break even. The airport issue discussion was curtailed because of the length of the meeting, but one left with the feeling that the city felt more renovations were needed at the airport than did the county.

The city is now seeking candidates from the community to serve on the Airport Advisory Board to help direct the city council in resolving airport issues. Contact City Manager Duane Huffman if interested.

At the close of the meeting, Commissioner Heaton only half jokingly said, “The county will take over airport operations, if the city will fully support a recreation director.”

Our local governments at work.