ST. GEORGE – The St. George City Council approved a 7 percent increase in its power rate across the board in its Thursday night meeting, noting that factors outside of the city’s control had necessitated the rise. The mayor also recommended that, starting next month, the City Council’s regular meetings be held at 5 p.m. to better accommodate public access.
Power rate increase
The city unanimously passed an increase of 7 percent in its power rate, increasing residential rates to an average of around 9.7 cents per kilowatt hour. Esplin said power rates went up 46 percent within the last year, stretching the city budget which generally accounts for a 4 percent power rate increase.
St. George produces some of its own power, but has most of it power transmitted over power lines owned by other entities. The cost to transmit power has increased, as the overall cost to energy has in recent years. The city and its residents often have little to nothing to say about rate increases in these instances. Part of what has caused the cost to rise involves federal regulations mandating cleaner sources of energy production.
“We don’t sit at the table when these things are decided,” Councilman Gil Almquist said. “We’re not a part of the equation.”
St. George’s new rate is on par with other municipal power rates, Esplin said, noting the power rates of neighboring cities. The residential power rate for Hurricane is 8.7 cents per kilowatt hour, Santa Clara is 9.9 cents, and Washington is 9.7. Comparatively, northern Utah cities, like Provo and Logan pay 11.5 cents and 16.3 cents per kilowatt hour respectively. The national average for residential power rates in between 11.9 and 12.2 cents per kilowatt hour according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. According to Rocky Mountain Power, the average power rate in Utah is 9.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
Esplin added the city is trying to find ways to generate cheaper power. Both the city manager and Almquist said they were not looking forward what the future may hold due to continuing federal energy mandates, which will likely continue to spike energy costs, they said.
The rate increase does not affect people who get their power from Dixie Power, a public power co-op, because it currently has better access to coal-fire electrical plants and lower transmission costs.
Meeting time change
In order to provide better access of regular city council meetings to the public, Mayor Jon Pike recommended that the council’s regular meetings, held on the first and third Thursday of each month, start at 5 p.m., with public hearings starting at 5:30 p.m. Work meetings, while remaining open to the public, will still take place at 4 p.m.
During the first regular meeting of the month, members of the public will be able to address the City Council for a 15-minute period to share concerns and questions. However, Pike stipulated that three rules must be adhered to: the person addressing the council must be a St. George resident, that person must be respectful, and may not comment on a pending matter set before the council during that particular meeting – the topic must by unrelated.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Pike said, noting the time change and open comment period are being conducted on a trial basis for now.
- The council approved a bid to Kim Campbell and Ron Larsen for $154,938 for a design and engineering contract for the Electric Theater for the restoration and renovation of the 100-year-old building and adjacent properties. Esplin said the outside of the building will be restored to how it looked when originally built. The inside of the building may be changed in order to better accommodate art-related programs, groups and activities in the future.
- Diane Adams, Don Buehner and Todd Staheli were appointed to to the city planning commission. They will replace Ron Bracken, Ron Read and Kim Campbell. Adams and Staheli were two of the 24 applicants for Pike’s vacated council seat. Their appointments take affect March 1. Doug Solstad, also a former council seat applicant, was appointed to the St. George Housing Authority. He replaces Gloria Shakespeare, who left the position to serve a church mission with her husband.
- The council approved a bid from JMI Constructors for $385,301.22 for construction of the Silkwood Park in the Little Valley area. Work is expected to be completed by June 30.
- A professional services contract in the amount of $26,000 was awarded to CRSA for a site review of the city’s fleet facility. Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager, said the city continues to grow, bringing with it a need for additional vehicles related to public safety and public transit. CRSA’s review of the city’s fleet facility will help determine the city’s needs in this area.
Ed note: This story has been updated with additional information on power rates.
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- City discusses plans to renovate Electric Theater
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