CEDAR CITY – Emotions were high at Wednesday night’s Cedar City Council meeting as sensitive topics were discussed including city employee healthcare, a letter of support for the Southwest Wildlife Foundation, a better rate at the Aquatic Center for Iron County Students and the loss-of-life fire that claimed three victims Monday night in Enoch City.
“We had a tragedy in our area a couple of nights ago,” Councilman Don Marchant said. “We don’t like tragedies, but we certainly appreciate those who respond to them as our public safety people.
“Certainly law enforcement was there to assist in what was going on and our Fire Department came through – as always.”
Fatal fires are always difficult, Marchant said, before asking Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips if his men were okay, or if there was anything they needed that the city could help with.
The emotional stress is undeniable, Phillips said, and Tuesday night’s debriefing began the first stages of healing for those involved.
“Chief (Bob) Allinson allowed Darin (Adams) to come down and help with that process, and kind of guide us with some tools and stuff,” he said. “So we are well on our way through the healing process.”
Health care coverage for city employees
Possible changes in insurance coverage, based on 136 city employees, were offered for the council’s consideration by Cedar City Human Resources Administrator Natasha Hirschi.
If the city stays with its current insurance there would be a 4.4 percent increase in cost. Hirschi, therefore, recommended a change in coverage that would keep the city’s costs in line with current expenses for the benefits. On the other hand, the change would raise deductibles and reduce coverage for employees.
Councilman Fred Rowley asked Hirschi if the change was related to employee abuse of coverage; and if not, what provoked the need to consider a change in coverage.
“The numbers are good and we are not abusing the insurance,” Hirschi said. “The Affordable Care Act is driving a lot of changes that are still unknown.”
The discussion was opened for public comment and a woman, who introduced herself as the wife of a city employee, spoke about a recent denial of coverage for important preventative medical care for her daughter.
“We were told she wouldn’t be covered until the condition caused permanent damage,” she said. “Then they would cover it, if she was having a heart attack in an emergency room….”
Southwest Wildlife Foundation
Susan Tyner of the Southwest Wildlife Foundation addressed the City Council asking for a letter of support from the city to the National Parks Service for a grant to build restroom facilities on their property in Cedar Canyon.
Cedar Canyon Nature Park is owned and operated by Southwest Wildlife Foundation, but Cedar City has a permanent easement that allowed them to build the walking trail through the property.
The bathrooms would reside on Southwest Wildlife property alongside the city trail and would include a storage facility for collaborative educational programs.
There would be two restrooms, a men’s and women’s, and they would have electric, heat, running water and would comply with the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The facility would be open 365 days a year from morning until night, same as the city restroom facilities, Tyner said.
Southwest Wildlife applied for the same grant in 2014, but was denied and advised to reapply in 2015 with a more detailed application. This time around, Tyner said, all of the elements are in order.
Rowley said it would be an asset to community members who spend time on the trail and have no way to relieve themselves once they have traveled to that point, especially to parents with small children.
It would also allow them the opportunity to post signage on the road designating Cedar Canyon Nature Park as a rest stop area, thereby driving more tourism into the area.
Keeping Iron County kids at home
It was brought to his attention recently, Rowley said, that Iron County schools are considering bussing their students to Washington City to use its swim facilities because the cost is cheaper.
The idea of Iron County schools traveling to another county for facilities it has available at home is unconscionable, Rowley said, and he believed there should be a solution.
Aquatics Manager Chris Hudson presented several options for the council to review. He agreed that there should be a solution that would work for everyone.
Washington City Community Center charges an $80 minimum for up to 80 students per hour-and-a-half time slots. The Aquatic Center charges $2 per child with no specified time slot.
Hudson proposed a new rate of $75 for 75 children per hour-and-a-half time slot for exclusive use of the pool. Use of the water slide would be extra, because it requires more lifeguards.
City Council agreed to create a resolution based on the information Hudson presented and bring it back to council for a vote at next week’s action meeting.
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