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  • Nephi City accepts idea of forming recreation task force to tackle goals and priorities for future recreation facilities


 

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

By Tuesday, April 17, Nephi City Council members will have set some goals and priorities for developing recreation facilities on property in south Nephi and will be steps closer to appointing a task force.

A task force will be put together to help the council determine the best way to proceed, but that will come after the council sets some goals and parameters for the task force.

At council meeting on Tuesday, the council decided to accept the idea of a task force but not adopt any persons to it until they had set goals and defined parameters and until the mayor could talk to the county commission.

“The city owns around 60 acres on the south side of the city,” said Seth Atkinson, city administrator. “The electric utility purchased the land for city and utility purposes.”

In the work session meeting on March 27, one of the council priorities set was to dedicate that land for a future recreation facility.

“There were no votes taken (at the work session),” said Atkinson. “They simply identified priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. Nothing that was said is binding, they just gave some direction to staff.”

He said that work sessions are public meetings and that some members of the public attended that particular work session.

“Once any kind of formal action related to the recreation center is proposed, that will be done in a regular meeting (e.g. approving a loan, approving contract services, approving a master plan, etc.),” he said.

The formation of a task force would create a group to advise the council on what kind of facility to construct.

Nephi City’s Recreation Advisory Board has not been active for some time, said Atkinson, and staff was suggesting that rather than reform that group the city council should, instead, form an advisory task force.

“There is no one on the advisory board,” said Atkinson. “It is defunct.”

He said that many volunteer boards are tough to maintain and, therefore, it is typically better to create a task force that focuses on certain issues.

“Once those issues are resolved, the task force can then be released without the need for ongoing meetings,” he said.

Advisory boards can become so focused on personal preferences that they can lose sight of the council’s goals.

Atkinson said the city staff was recommending the formation of a recreation task force instead of the advisory board.

There also could be more than five members on a task force and the larger number may prove beneficial.

However, though they approved the idea of a task force rather than an advisory board, council members decided that there need to be some things decided before any type of group is appointed.

“We need to be clear on what we expect and what our goals are,” said Nathan Memmott, council member, “and what the outcomes are.”

He said that, for example, the city or the county can put a request for a PAR (Parks, Arts, Recreation) tax on the ballot. However, both entities cannot do so—it is one or the other.

He said that needed to be discussed with the commission although a task force might help with that.

For a city to put the initiative on the ballot, the county must first establish its intent not to impose the tax countywide so that citizens are not taxed twice for the same thing.

Glade Nielson, mayor, said that he would be out of town on business but could make a few phone calls before the next meeting and could find out what the county commission might think about accepting the responsibility of a PAR tax or whether commissioners thought they should leave that to the cities.

“I could take the temperature and the pulse of the commission,” said Nielson.

It would be a good idea, said Kasey Wright, city council attorney, to have an elected official talk to the other elected officials. That would be better than having a task force do that.

“We could agree to create a task force,” said Skip Worwood, council member, “and we could then work on setting our goals.”

Worwood said that Atkinson and John Bradley, Nephi Recreation Director, had put together a list of items that could be reviewed.

Atkinson said that Bradley had also provided some possible names to be on the task force that were e-mailed out to the council earlier and that the city council could discuss these names and any others in an executive session.

With the decision by the council to dedicate the property owned by the electric utility on the south end of the city for recreation purposes, it would also be a good time to revive the purposes behind the recreation advisory board.

The purposes for the Recreation Advisory Board are found in the city code under Title 2, Chapter 2 Section 6 but the council agreed as a body that they were going to appoint a task force rather than the board.

One of the stated purposes of the Recreation Advisory Board is to “be responsible to the city council for recommendations concerning the development and management of recreation facilities.”

“This could also be the main purpose for the creation of a recreation task force, along with any other duties the mayor or city council may assign,” said Atkinson. “The task force could then research the possibilities for recreation facilities on the south Nephi property and provide recommendations to the council on how to proceed.

These recommendations could include the type and size of facilities, bonding amounts, funding options, and support for any decisions with which the council would like to proceed.

“Setting priorities for the upcoming fiscal year is akin to setting a goal,” said Atkinson. “It is an idea with no formal action behind it. It does, however, provide some critical information to staff when they are preparing the budget.  I’ll be compiling that budget in the near future and putting it out on the city’s website so that all the financial numbers behind those goals are transparent and available. I don’t think anyone wants to make decisions outside of a public process, and I know our city attorney would disapprove of those actions as well.”