City Council Update: Barker agreement is put on hold

The city council is considering making an agreement with the Barker family which would stipulate how the park and the amphitheater would be used. Councilman Phillip Swanson said he didn’t think they had enough information to finalize the agreement yet. City Attorney Jon Call said the reason an agreement is better than an ordinance is because, “Agreements are harder to change than ordinances because there are more parties involved.” In this agreement they would determine the anticipated capacity, park hours, when the gates will be open when the fence is built, and parking among other things.

Parks and Recreation Director Tiffany Staheli said she gets calls from community members who are interested in renting out the amphitheater for events such as receptions and movie nights. She said she is ok renting the outer portion of the facility while construction inside is completed. The council decided the amphitheater will host only city sponsored events for the next summer.

Ranked choice voting

Kory Holdaway introduced an optional pilot program utilizing ranked choice voting for the 2019 election. He explained there wouldn’t be a need for primary elections with this way of voting, which would reduce the overall cost of elections. He explained voters mark their first choice, then their second, and then their third choice for candidates. All of the first-choice votes are counted first, then, the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated. First choice votes for that candidate would then move on to the second choice votes. So even though the voter’s initial choice didn’t win, they would still have a say on who, out of the remaining candidates, wins the election.

City Recorder Annette Spendlove said her concerns included who would pay for it if the county doesn’t support it how they would teach voters this new system. Holdaway said each county would be charged $15,000 for the new software.

Weber County Clerk Ricky Hatch said the county didn’t support this for two reasons: logistical and policy. He said printing and voter education would add an extra cost to ranked choice voting. He said Santa Fe is roughly the same size as North Ogden and they spent $350,000 on education. “The more complex a ballot, the higher likelihood the ballot will be spoiled,” which, he said, is more common in lower income and rougher neighborhoods. “Several cities, including San Francisco, are repealing ranked choice voting due to its complexity.”

Hillside protection

The council approved the ordinance amending the city code for grading and drainage. City Planner Rob Scott said this strengthened the standards for the hillside protection zones. Scott said this change will help forward the city’s environmental goals of protecting sensitive lands, including aquifers, in the general plan.

Debris basin

The council approved the agreement with White Rock development for the debris basin on 3100 near Mason Cove subdivision.  This large three-tiered debris basin will protect homes when a hundred-year-storm comes. In 1991, a storm knocked one home off its foundation and this basin will reduce the chances of something like that happening again. Call said they are going to do a field trip to the debris basin and the public is welcome to attend. He said to let them know so they can coordinate vehicles.

Broken water mains

The council adjusted the humanitarian fund amount to assist residents who suffer damage from broken water mains. In the instance of a broken water main, both the city’s and the residents’ insurance doesn’t cover the damage. Spendlove said this rarely happens. The council changed the amount from $4,000 to $10,000 after the adjuster got a quote of $10,000 worth of damage for each of the two properties where a broken water main did damage. City Attorney Jon Call said $4,000 would only cover the cost of cleanup. Evan Nelson said he thought it would be wise to use the water fund to pay for the $20,000 of damages.

Library parking lot plowing

The council deliberated as to which party should be responsible for plowing the library parking lot. They talked about how the parking lot design of the library makes it particularly difficult to plow without damaging curbs. Stahili said adding this responsibility to her team would tack on 30-45 minutes of work which would also push back the other streets and sidewalks her team must plow on snow days.

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