City Council entertains new fire district, booster club funding; removes restriction on RV use

HURRICANE – The Hurricane City Council’s meeting Thursday night covered a wide range of issues, from forming a fire district to high school athletic funding to amending an RV ordinance.

Hurricane Valley Fire District

The council discussed combining Hurricane, LaVerkin, Toquerville and Virgin into one fire district. Councilman Darin Thomas began the discussion by asking all of the five fire personnel in attendance to let their voice be heard and all five of them, including Fire Chief Tom Kuhlmann, raised their hand in favor of the district.

Councilwoman Ethelyn Humphries asked about the advantages of being in one district, to which Deputy Chief Merlin Spendlove responded; overall, things go smoother, he said, speaking of 2010, when the entities were in one district. A larger fire district would mean less work, especially when it comes to accounting, Spendlove explained, and there is a good tax base in place to fund it.

In the past, the other municipalities in the district did not have “a vehicle to fund this,” Councilman Kevin Tervort said, and now that the vehicle is in place, “they’ve got more money than we do.”

A citizen in attendance, Don Triptow, expressed his concerns about the district, saying it is confusing and he would love to have it clearly explained, especially where the funding is coming from.

Hurricane High School Booster Club President Mike Butler presents a fundraising proposal to the City Council, Hurricane, Utah, September 18, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News
Hurricane High School Booster Club President Mike Butler presents a fundraising proposal to the City Council, Hurricane, Utah, September 18, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

Ethelyn Humphries, in response to Triptow, said she’d love to see the same thing.

Kuhlmann suggested the groups concerned should hold a study session to discuss the matter further, then the council decided to continue the discussion to a later council meeting.

HHS booster club

Hurricane High School Booster Club President Mike Butler presented an idea to the city that would help raise money for HHS athletics and other activities. Butler said he recently spoke with representatives from the Moapa Valley High School and Virgin Valley High School booster clubs in Nevada, who have started partnering with the Overton Power District to assist in fundraising.

The Overton Power District has initiated rounding up power bills to the nearest dollar, with the small balance between what the customer actually owes and the rounded dollar amount going to the booster clubs, Butler said. For instance, he said, a $90.33 power bill would be rounded up to $91 and the extra 67 cents would benefit the high schools. The program would not be mandatory, but would be implemented on an opt-in, opt-out basis, he said.

Emphasizing that potential money raised would not go towards wants, like nice-looking helmets for the HHS football team, Butler said it would go towards real needs such as equipment and travel expenses. Additionally, the funds would not just benefit athletic programs, but also aid drama, music and other activities.

Councilwoman Pam Humphries expressed her concern that approving such a fundraising option would cause other organizations to ask to do the same thing. City Manager Clark Fawcett voiced his disapproval; when the school needs money it comes to the city, he said, and it is something in which the city should not involve itself. Planning Director Toni Foran said there is a big difference between a private power company in Moapa and a public utility in Hurricane.

Councilman Kevin Tervort took the other side. He said the proposal would provide a good way to spread support of the high school to the whole city. Councilwoman Ethelyn Humphries said she felt it was worth pursuing.

City Attorney Fay Reber said he is concerned about it but would look into the legalities of it, then a motion was made to continue discussion of the issue to the next meeting on Oct. 2.

RV ordinance

The council discussed an amendment of an ordinance dealing with manufactured homes and recreational vehicles, focusing the attention on RVs. The current ordinance delineates an RV park as having a minimum of 5 acres but stipulates an RV cannot be occupied for more than 180 days. Councilman Darin Thomas mentioned that there are residents living in RVs full time who cannot afford to move anywhere else and Mayor John Bramall said there are snowbirds who live in RVs eight-nine months out of the year. Foran said she felt the city should have compassion on such residents and the council agreed, passing a motion to take out the 180 days restriction from the ordinance.

RAP tax

The city made a motion, which passed unanimously, to support a tax to support recreation, arts and parks on the November ballot. Bramall said the mayor’s council also voted in favor of the RAP tax, which he said would bring in just over $100,000 to Hurricane to help fund arts and recreation projects. He said every city in the county would control how their percentage of the tax is spent and the nice thing about the tax is tourists pay approximately 65 percent of it.

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  • Mike Parker September 19, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Thank you for your comprehensive report. It’s very helpful for residents like me who can’t make the city council meetings.

  • Totally Confused September 20, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I am confused over this fire district. First we did not have a fire district, we had the Hurricane City Fire Dept. Then, we had Hurricane Valley Fire District. Then we went back to Hurricane City Fire Dept. Now they want to go back to Hurricane Valley Fire District again.
    I would like to see some in depth explanation and reporting of what the heck is going on here. This seems like nothing more than a political football. I would really like to see some open facts that “follow the money trail.”
    Something just doesn’t pass the “smell test” here!

    • Don September 20, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      I concur and stated so at this meeting. This council is ready to rubber stamp another change in the Fire Department. I see it only as another way to increase taxes so they can give salary increases to the firefighters and the overpaid chief and assistant chief. Don’t these people learn from experience? If they put this measure on the ballot, it will be soundly defeated. I urge you to attend the next meeting where this measure comes up and tell these rubber stampers that the Fire District has no place in Hurricane unless and until the whole financial structure is thoroughly explained.

  • rickie September 21, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    The Fire District is just a way to increase taxes. What is the advantage of having a district? Is my house going to be saved any faster? Is my emergency going to be responded any faster? Am I going to be better protected? Apparently the District isn’t working well because employee morale is sinking. There are people resigning their duties such as a Mr Farthing who has made complaints about his involvement and the added duties placed upon him by the chief. Now he has left. there are some other who have stated dissatisfaction with the organization and leadership and they are still there and are looking for a way to leave. Others are just waiting for their retirement to kick in so they can leave. Of course there are all the newbies who want the jobs of the more seasoned ones.

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