ST. GEORGE – In its first meeting of the new year, the St. George City Council bid farewell to the city’s long-serving finance director Thursday, as well as created a new city department.
The City Council also met with some vocal opposition to amending the city’s master plan to allow for commercial property in the Washington Fields area near the Mall Drive Bridge.
Farewell to the city’s finance director
Phil Peterson has been with the City of St. George since 1982. He originally started as a city controller, according to the city’s website, and subsequently became the city’s finance director.
“I’ve never had to worry about the finances of the city” with Peterson, City Manager Gary Esplin said, adding that he will miss getting Peterson’s input on the city’s financial affairs.
Under Peterson’s time as finance director, Esplin said, there havn’t been any major issues with the city budget or audits. “He’s done a great job for the city,” he said.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to serve for 32 years,” Peterson said, adding that as a citizen of St. George, he is confident we won’t miss a beat as the city continues to move forward.
Peterson’s retirement will leave a gap in the city’s finance department that will be filled with the creation of a new department called the “administrative services department.” Chosen to head the new department is Deanna Brklacich, who has served as the city’s budget manager.
Brklacich is the second woman in the city’s history to be promoted to a department head. The first was Laurie Mangum who was made the head of the energy services department last month after former director Phil Solomon retired.
Tiffany LaJoice, the city treasurer, was promoted to the new financial manager position.
Lajoice’s promotion leaves the city treasurer position open. The city will be looking to fill the position with a new hire in the near future, Mayor Jon Pike said.
Amending the master plan
The City Council approved an amendment to the city’s general plan creating approximately 24.4 acres of commercial zoning between 3000 East and Mall Bridge.
Before the council voted, they heard from residents of the Washington Fields area who were opposed to seeing commercial property creep into their backyard.
One woman, who said the proposed commercial zoning is right behind her home, said future commercial development would change the “character and nature” of Washington Fields. People moved into Washington Fields so they could live in quiet neighborhoods, she said, adding that people can drive into town to get their groceries and other needs.
Pike, who lives in Bloomington, said he watched as fellow Bloomington residents protested the incoming Wal-Mart. Pike didn’t protest the store’s arrival and now he and his neighbors shop there, he said. He added that he felt having commercial in the proposed area would be a benefit, and not a detriment, to the neighborhood.
Sherrie Reeder, also a Washington Fields resident, and whose family operates the Staheli Family Farm, asked the City Council if they had spoken with Washington City officials about creating commercial property.
Pike said they had, and he had spoken with Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson about it as well. Overall, he said Washington City officials seemed in favor of the prospect.
The City Council awarded a $90,000 bid to B. Hansen Construction to demolish the West Cove Apartments at 100 S. 300 West. The approval went through despite objection from the family of the late property owner to delay the measure.
The City Council approved an interlocal agreement with Washington County concerning the city’s bomb squad. The squad was previously commanded by St. George Fire Capt. Jason Whipple who retired last year. The agreement hands management of the bomb squad to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
A regulation was passed naming Laurie Mangum, the city’s energy services director, as the city’s representative to the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS.
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