Commission considers courthouse renovations, affordable housing plan, $30,000 reimbursement

Iron County Commissioners (L-R) Alma Adams, Dale Brinkerhoff and David Miller gaze down at some building plans while the lead maintenance worker Lester Ross goes over their possible options, Parowan, Utah, Aug. 24, 2015 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News

IRON COUNTY — The members of the Iron County Commission met in chambers Monday for a regularly scheduled commission meeting, discussing future renovations to the Parowan Precinct Justice Court following a pipe break, reimbursing Parowan City for a property donation and an affordable housing plan.

To kick off the discussion, Lester Ross, the county’s lead maintenance worker, said that sometime between the night of Aug. 13 and the morning of Aug. 14, a sewer main inside the courthouse broke.

It took out that ceiling and it went down and took out a big chuck of that piping,” Ross said. “It (the piping) is about 30 — almost 40 years old.”

Along with the damaged area, much of the piping throughout the building is riddled with quick patches of rubber and metal clamps, Ross said, so repairs are much needed.

“The question is,” Ross said, “where do we start, and where do we stop.”

The pipes that make up the plumbing inside the building are made of iron, Ross said, and have a life of about 20 years.

With the possibility of future breaks looming due to the age of the pipes, Iron County Commissioner David Miller said the smart move would be to begin repairs on not just the damaged area, but throughout the rest of the building as well.

“There is no question that we are on borrowed time,” Miller said.

In order for the full repairs to take place, Miller said, many of the county workers would need to be removed from their office spaces and either moved to other locations in the courthouse or perhaps placed in portable offices.

The best options to split up the project, Ross said, would be to either divide the building into halves or quarters and then move from one section to the next.

Both Ross and the commissioners agreed that since construction would already be ongoing, repairs to the electrical lines and heating would be smart to do as well.

Since the topic of construction had already been brought up, Iron County Assessor Cindy Bulloch said, it would be nice for the commissioners to consider a budget for things such as newer desks for the county workers.

“So we could get rid of some of those metal desks from the 1950s,” Bulloch said. “… If we’re doing all of that it’d be nice if there was some sort of a budget (for this).”

Due to time constraints, Miller said he would like to continue the discussion within the coming days, but that he likes the ideas being brought to the table and would like to see some extensive work done to restore the building.

“This building warrants more than just a mechanical overhaul and more than just cosmetic,” Miller said. “I think we need to look into a more aggressive renovation.”

Affordable Housing Plan

Three members of the Five County Association of Government attended Monday’s meeting with the goal of preparing an affordable housing plan for Iron County by the end of the fiscal year, in compliance with Utah law.

The group consisted of Gary Zabrinskie, director of the Five County Association, along with Senior Planner Levi Roberts and Program Specialist Diane Lamoreaux.

“It is required by Utah code to have a moderate income housing element,” Roberts said “either in your general plan or a reference to one.”

Roberts said they would like to find and examine data that would estimate the need for moderate income housing, such as looking at those who make up to 30-percent of the area’s median income in comparison to local housing values and rental rates.

If they don’t match up, Roberts said, they would then check if there was anything officials could be doing to help remedy the situation.

The affordable housing plan would be based off of what Iron County officials feel are the needs of the area, Zabrinskie said. It’s not like some outside agency wants to come in and force changes.

“These will be your recommendations, not ours,” Zabrinskie said. “We’re going to be working in consort with your planning commission, with commissioners, with stakeholders to ensure it recognizes and reflects the wishes of Iron County.”

To help get things moving as soon as they can, the group and the commissioners agreed to remain in contact and set another meeting mid-September for further discussions.

Parowan City Reimbursement

Following the sale of the Iron County Ambulance Service, Iron County Commissioner Dale Brinkerhoff said, it came to his attention that an ambulance garage in Parowan used by the former service had actually been donated by Parowan City.

It was very noble of them,” Brinkerhoff said.

After city officials contacted him, Brinkerhoff said, he felt there was an obligation for some discussion about how the county would go about reimbursing the city for the donated property. Brinkerhoff, along with Iron County Clerk Jon Whittaker, met with the Parowan City Mayor Don Landes and City Manager Shayne Scott to hash it out.

“I told them that we thought Parowan had some obligation because we spent an extra seven months meeting with the mayors in their attempt to keep it as a county ambulance service,” Brinkerhoff said. “I pointed out to the mayor: That cost us seven months and probably $250,000 to delay that, so we thought Parowan had some skin in the game too.”

After further discussion, he offered the mayor $30,000 — half the market value — to reimburse the city for their donation, Brinkerhoff said, and the mayor agreed to the amount.

On Miller’s motion, seconded by Commissioner Alma Adams, the commission resolved to reimburse Parowan City $30,000 for the donated property.

To end the discussion, Miller said he hopes the decision helped Parowan City officials feel they’ve been made whole and still have a good ambulance service. The idea, he said, is to continue to have a good working relationship with the cities following all the ambulance discussions.

The next Iron County Commission meeting is scheduled for Sept. 14, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. in the Iron County Commission Chambers, 68 S 100 E, Parowan. The public is encouraged to attend.

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