Kanab Mayor Nina Laycook and the city council have been working diligently with City Manager Duane Huffman for several weeks on the 2010/11 city budget to reconcile projected revenues with operating expenses, only to decide on one issue at the council meeting on June 8. Adoption of the final budget will occur at the next city council meeting on June 22, which the public is encouraged to attend.

Joe Decker has been hired, as of June 9, to be Kanab’s first full-time paid fire chief (Grade 20 Step B). Decker has put in countless volunteer hours as fire chief over the past five years, garnering praise from the volunteer firemen he has supervised and trained, as well as from state and local government officials.

Councilman Tony Chatterley, who oversees the fire department, has promoted the hiring of a full-time chief and the qualifications Decker brings to the position. “There have been major demands placed on the fire department over the past several years, and even with Joe’s commitment of several hundred hours of volunteer time, things were not being completed on a timely basis or in some cases at all because of time constraints. The majority of cities the size of Kanab in our state have full-time department chiefs, and we need to have one here as well. Joe Decker is the man for the job,” said Chatterley.

Other endorsements for a full-time chief came from several of the many citizens in attendance. Dennis Mosdell, whose five sons are or have been firemen, said, “We need a full-time fire chief to facilitate training and certification of the volunteers, coordinate projects and programs, and bolster staff moral.”

Insurance agent Jeff Yates stated, “Insurance ratings are threatening deterioration, which would increase homeowner’s and business’s premiums. A full time chief can address many of the issues affecting the ISO ratings to mitigate increases.”

PA Hernan Gerraud, a Cedar Mountain volunteer fireman, said, “A fire chief can devote time to grant applications for state and federal funds and to fire inspections and other fire-related fees to generate revenue for the fire department.”

The additional cost, over those revenues expected to be generated by fee collections and other revenues generated by the fire department, for a full-time chief with city employee benefits, is projected to be $41,000 for the fiscal year and will come from the general fund.

Decker was voted by his peers to have his name submitted as chief five years ago, and this recommendation was considered by the council when they appointed him to the position at that time. Because of his diligent work effort and performance as a volunteer, the council voted unanimously to hire Decker to fill this newly-created and needed position.

One area facing budget cuts is the Parks and Recreation Department, which will impact all project funding except for the swimming pool. Jack Gisler addressed the city council saying, “trail funding is needed and shouldn’t be cut. Trails offer people exercise options in a day that finds the problems associated with obesity on the rise. They enhance the appeal of the community to businesses looking to relocate and increase the quality of life for those living here. The council has been too timid on raising taxes in the past to fund city programs.”

The only tax increases being considered now are a 3% energy sales tax and a 1% room tax.

Trent Keller, library board chairman, spoke on proposed library use fees, stating, “Computer use is 20% of patron library use and computer fees will put underprivileged people at a disadvantage. The Utah Educational Network has discouraged implementing library fees as it may limit use by children and others for educational purposes.”

Councilman Chatterley said they will look into all aspects of a computer user charge before deciding if one should be started.

The budget continues to be formulated by the department heads, council, city manager and mayor. Citizens can obtain information on the various budget scenarios at the city offices, located at Main and 100 North. The city manager and council members welcome your comments and input into the process, which will be completed when the final 2010/11 budget is voted upon on June 22.