County pledges funds to support startup of latest SkyWest destination

Stock photo of SkyWest jet for illustrative purposes only, location and date unknown | Photo courtesy of SkyWest Airlines, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Washington County Commissioners approved an agreement Tuesday that calls for the county to split the costs of supporting SkyWest Airline’s newly announced route with the city of St. George.

A SkyWest flight with returning Utah National Guard members taxis under water cannon salute at the St. George Regional Airport, St. George, Utah, Jan. 31, 2019 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

During the same meeting, a proposed $381,000 paving project for the Harmony Heights subdivision stalled due to residents opposition.

Supporting SkyWest Airline’s new destination

The County Commission approved a transportation services agreement between Washington County, St. George and SkyWest Airlines to support the new airline route to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The new route is anticipated to open in September following the reopening of the St. George Regional Airport.

Read more: City announces new flight destination for St. George Regional Airport

According to the agreement, St. George and Washington County will split the startup cost of the $450,000 route. It is meant to act as a contingency fund to help cover possible losses for the flight’s first year and a half of operation.

“Dallas-Fort Worth is huge,” Commissioner Dean Cox said as he compared it to the other major cities St. George is connected to through SkyWest Airlines. Those other locations include Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Denver.

Through the Dallas-Fort Worth destination, Cox said, St. George is “virtually one stop to every destination in North America.”

The county has entered into previous agreements with St. George and SkyWest to cover the startup cost of new connections like Los Angeles in 2017.

A New Harmony resident speaks at the Washington County Commission meeting in opposition to the creation of a proposed special assessment area that would help fund the paving of Harmony Heights Road in New Harmony, March 19, 2019 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Harmony Heights paving project stalled

The County Commission held a public hearing March 20 on a proposal to create a “special assessment district” in the Harmony Heights subdivision to fund the paving of main roadway there.

The assessment district, if approved, would have placed a 10-year tax lien on 45 properties that would have funded the road project estimated to cost $381,350. It would have run a 3-inch layer of asphalt on the road for 9,560 feet with a width of 24 feet.

Read more: Commission hears from residents on proposed paving project, continues push to merge fire district

Support and opposition to the project was fairly split during the March 20 meeting. Detractors said it would negatively impact the rural feel and way of life in the area they enjoyed, while supporters said they and their vehicles would appreciate not continuously running over ruts and potholes.

During a protest period the county received 35 letters concerning the proposed project. Washington County Clerk Kim Hafen told the County Commission Tuesday that 19 of those letters were opposed to the road paving, while 16 were in favor.

The area within the red box marks the general location of the proposed special assessment area that would fund the paving of Harmony Heights Road in New Harmony. | Map courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

Under Utah law, if 40 percent of the property owners within the proposed area protest the issue, the commission wouldn’t be able to move the project forward.

The 19 letters accounted for 42 percent of the property owners in the area, leading to the commission to vote down the project.

The creation of a special improvement district for the road was originally proposed in 2005 but didn’t go much further than that. The issue came up again in 2017 with a straw poll showing a majority of residents in favor of paying for the project at the time.

Harmony Heights is located west of New Harmony and is an unincorporated part of the county.

In other business, the County Commission approved supplying county tourism funds to Santa Clara for a building of a BMX bike track the town has in the works. Santa Clara City Councilman Jerett Waite said city officials anticipate having the bike park up and running later this year.

Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulispher also gave a report concerning search and rescue operations in the past month, and noted the county’s search and rescue teams have responded to nearly 50 incidents so far this year.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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