‘Conservative and responsible’: Ivins gets closer to a finalized budget

IVINS — In the last step before the final adoption of the city’s 2022 fiscal year budget, the Ivins City Council gave the public one last chance at its Thursday night meeting to chime in on the finalized budget that is balanced between $8,180,835 in revenues and $8,180,835 in spending.

Ivins City Council member Derek Larsen listens to a presentation during the council’s May 20, 2021 meeting at Ivins City Hall, Ivins, Utah | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The finalized budget, which can be read here, was appealing to the ear for council member Derek Larsen.

“I think we need to be fiscally conservative and responsible. So it’s important to have a budget that you can always balance that takes into account some of the fluctuations, so that the city’s not left with problems,” Larsen told St. George News, adding that better than expected revenues over a pandemic that started so uncertain a year ago has left Ivins with an opportunity. “It’s a good time to save some money because we’re making money.”

Balancing the budget is nothing new for Lane Meacham, director of finance for the city, who council members have said has consistently presented them with balanced budgets since joining the city two years ago. 

A year ago, Meacham touted a modest and conservative budget based on the fears of the pandemic causing a long, tough economic period. And while Meacham’s budget this year is 4% larger as far as projected revenue, he still warned the council not to be too extravagant with the fatter wallet – especially with two high-profile ongoing city projects. 

“The economy it appears, at least for this year, there’s going to be some stability because of injections into the economy,” Meacham said. “There’s a little bit of risk because of our (Old Highway 91) and City Hall projects.

The improvements to Old Highway 91, which at $1.7 million is already one of the larger individual project expenditures in the 2022 budget, was the subject of the lone public comment in the meeting. 

Lance Anderson speaks during the public comment period for Ivins’ 2022 fiscal year budget during the Ivins City Council’s May 20, 2021 meeting at Ivins City Hall. Ivins, Utah | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

Lance Anderson, who is also a member of the city’s Planning Commission, suggest as part of the Old Highway 91 improvements that additional funds be set to move some of the overhead power lines underground. 

While Ivins Public Works Director Chuck Gillette told the council that moving the power lines underground might actually fit within the present budget, Meacham used the proposal to once again put caution to the wind. 

“If we take the power lines underground, we might want to look at other sources to ensure we stay balanced,” Meacham told the council. 

The construction of the new City Hall, taking shape next to the current building, is mostly being paid for through the completed sale of other city land. 

Other major expenses include $2.05 million for irrigation improvements, $335,000 for a new street sweeper and a $50,000 cemetery expansion.

With public comment completed, the budget is expected to be up for approval at the council’s next meeting on June 3.

Black Desert Resort update

During the meeting, City Manager Dale Coulam updated the council on the status of the city’s negotiations with the developers of the under construction Black Desert Resort at Entrada.

Representation from 2020 of part of the parking structure planned for the Black Desert Resort at Entrada, Ivins City, Utah | Photo courtesy of Black Desert Resort at Entrada, St. George News

The council rejected a special tax district that could provide providing city funds through tax breaks to help the developers build an underground parking structure and “culinary village” on April 15.

A part of some council members’ opposition to creating a community reinvestment area for the resort was uncertainty over whether the developer would also receive contributions from Washington County and the Washington County School District, who the developer said stood to benefit from educational opportunities on the property. Since then, Coulam said, the school district has decided it is “contributing nothing” and the county has committed no more than $2 million. The developer had been seeking at least $5 million. 

As far as a community reinvestment area, Mayor Chris Hart told the council it continues to be on hold “temporarily, unless things change” and Coulam revealed the developer, Enlaw LLC, is now seeking a similar community reinvestment area from neighboring Santa Clara, pitching a convention center on the area of the resort that is in Santa Clara. 

“They’re trying to see what can be put together on that side,” Coulam said of the developer. 

In the meantime, Coulam said city management is still negotiating with the developer regarding bonds from the city that would be paid for by higher property taxes for future residents of the Black Desert Resort property. Known as a public infrastructure district, Coulam and Hart have emphasized it would not mean higher property taxes for any Ivins resident other than those living and operating at the new resort. 

Coulam said the council will be provided a PID proposal to consider within the next two meetings.

“We hope to turn around a draft and trying to make sure everything is in this document because once it’s approved,  the bird flies and you can’t do anything with it,” Coulam said. 

Honoring an Ivins pioneer

In a file photo, former Ivins Mayor Jack Reber is honored at a flightless Honor Flight ceremony held at the Southern Utah Veterans Home, Ivins, Utah, Feb. 4, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

In the only matter that actually came up for a vote at Thursday’s meeting, the council unanimously approved a proclamation to proclaim June 16 as Jack Reber Day in Ivins to mark the 100th birthday of the oldest living long-term resident of the city.

On that day, Reber – who was mayor of what was then the township of Ivins from 1978 to 1980 –  will be paraded in a red velvet carriage from his current home at the Southern Utah Veterans Home a half mile down 100 North to be greeted by the current Mayor Hart at Ivins City Hall around 10:30 a.m.

Council member Cheyne McDonald noted Reber’s wit: “Jack always told me I’m going to live to be 100 if you (I) don’t die first,” McDonald said.

Hart said in his proclamation that Reber was instrumental as mayor in getting the veterans’ home built, convincing the Allen Blood family to donate 10 acres to the city that was used for the home.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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