Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for January 20, 2010
Water issues and town attorney dominate Fredonia Town Council
The January 12 town council meeting began with updates from Mayor Dixie Judd. She explained the importance of the coming 2010 census. She stated our community loses over $1,000 for every person not counted. It has been estimated Fredonia lost approximately $170,000 in funding because of people who were not counted in the last census. The census survey has been simplified this year and is completely confidential.
Council member Greg Honey suggested the town place ads in the Southern Utah News emphasizing the necessity for residents to return their census surveys, “it is important to the town and we need to do everything we can.”
Judd then discussed Home Rule, which will be on the ballot in March. She explained the town is givn the option to control its own budget because of its ownership of the utilities. Without this ability, the town would be forced to use a state imposed budget, and according to Judd, “we cannot run this town on what the state will allow.” Home Rule does not affect taxes or fees; it simply allows the town to spend its funds as it sees necessary.
During Public Works Director Jay Mackelprang’s monthly update, he expressed his concern about switching the cemetery’s watering system from secondary water to culinary water. The secondary water system was originally established specifically for the watering of the cemetery. He stated, “My main concern is if we have another year like this year and the cemetery is on culinary water and we run low on water, the paying customers are going to have to pay for it. They are the ones that are going to have to ration and I don’t feel that is right.”
Honey replied, “the idea is if we run low on water we can switch it back to the secondary system.”
Mackelprang explained the difficulty involved in continually switching between systems. He offered the suggestion that the cemetery be watered at night. He explained the method has been used successfully by several other communities battling similar problems where water caused damage to headstones.
Council member Cody Judd suggested the town try watering at night for a month to see if there is an improvement. Council member Brent Mackelprang agreed, and Town Clerk Marilyn Johnson reiterated several other communities had found success with this method.
“I don’t want to fight about it, we just want to switch it over to the culinary water,” stated Honey. He and Judd expressed their concerns that the secondary water would also damage the new sprinkler system being installed at the cemetery.
Council member Mackelprang said it would have to be voted on by the council, and Honey stated that it had been voted on previously. Council then debated whether or not the issue had ever been voted on. Shortly after this discussion, it was revisited as an agenda item, at which point, council member Mackelprang asked town employee Kelly Hilding if she had researched the past council minutes to find if and when it had ever been voted on.
Hilding had researched the situation, looking at minutes for council meetings for the last six years. According to Hilding, the culinary water for the cemetery had been discussed numerous times but never voted on. She explained she read through the minutes, and any time the issue was mentioned, she also listened to the voice minutes in case a vote had been missed. At no time did she find council had voted on the issue.
Jay Mackelprang reiterated his concern for the residents of Fredonia explaining, normally the reservoir would already be full, but currently was still four feet down, showing how close to being out of water the town was this summer.
Council agreed to wait and see the amount of spring precipitation before voting on changing the cemetery to culinary water.
Council approved a bid from Superior Tanks to clean out and remove lead paint from the town’s older water tank. They would also completely inspect the tank to determine what repairs would be necessary and at what cost.
Finally, the subject of the town attorney was discussed. Judd stated, “We have got to make a decision on what we’re going to do with our attorney.”
Council member Mackelprang replied, “I think we ought to put a request out for services.”
Mayor Judd explained the auditors cautioned against this because of the town’s current financial status, as well the town’s other legal situations. They suggested staying with either Steve Horton or the firm Mangum, Wall and Stoops.
“I think Mangum, Wall and Stoops has let us down in the last year, and I’m not real comfortable with them… and I’m most definitely not interested in Steve Horton.” expressed Brent Mackelprang.
Judd explained Ken Brendell would be the town’s representative if Fredonia decides to stay with Mangum, Wall and Stoops.
“I still feel like they let the Town of Fredonia down in the last year, and I’m not comfortable with the way that whole thing transpired right in the middle of some problems we were experiencing and Mangum, Wall and Stoops stepped away and left Steve Horton there… I’m not comfortable with that. When things start to get tough, all of sudden they all disappear. And I know they’re a good firm, but I think there [are] some things that went on that most definitely weren’t legal for us.”
Mackelprang continued adamantly, “I think we were let down, and I think it’s cost us a fair sum of money and I think we need to go back and get the money. Period! It wasn’t by our doing. It was by our representation by Mangum, Wall, Stoops and Steve Horton and I think they owe us some money and I’d like them to pay us… I don’t think we can file suit against them and then retain them as our firm.” He said he had spoken to other attorneys and believed firmly the town could recoup every penny lost because of them because of the advice the town received and the actions taken because of it.
Honey thought Mangum, Wall and Stoops did a good job up until that point and thought it was more Steve Horton than Mangum, Wall and Stoops. Mackelprang agreed.
Concerned citizen Lynette Jones expressed her concerns about the attorney situation for the town. She assumed the discussion was over the issue with the town manager, and said she felt it important to establish a separation between the manager and the attorney if something like that were to occur again to eliminate any conflict of interest.
“I don’t think the same situation could possibly happen again,” replied Judd.
Council decided to retain Mangum, Wall and Stoops while looking at other firms to represent the town.