The public hearing on the Coalville City proposed budget was held on 6/22/2020. Following is a summary of the major points discussed.
Three Main Agenda Items
The June 22 City Council Meeting was held at the Coalville City Hall. Masks were worn by all and social distancing was observed. The three main items on the agenda were:
1. Public Hearing: Review and Possible Adoption of the 2020 Budget and Amendments to the 2019 Budget.
2. The official vote to cancel the special election scheduled for June 30, 2020 (The Referendum Vote)
3. Review and possible approval of Chalk Creek Estates Subdivision
Public Hearing on Coalville City Budget
Tim Rees presented the proposed 2020 budget and 2019 budget amendments to the City Council. After the presentation, the meeting was opened up to a public hearing. Of the public in attendance, seven stood and gave their opinion about the way Coalville City is spending the public’s money. The overwhelming consensus was that the public would like to see the city look into rebidding some of the consultant contracts for our city staff. It was pointed out that the budget could be amended to allow for matching funds for grants to fund a community survey. This survey would see if Coalville’s General Plan still fits the vision of the majority of its residents, and then the code could be revamped to fit the newly revised general plan.
Why Does the Public Want Change?
The public who spoke pointed out many perceived conflicts of interest within our city. It was specifically pointed out that Don Sargent, who is responsible for the code revisions that have been occurring within the city over the past two-years, has also been tasked with shepherding the Wohali Development through the permitting and approval process. This seems like a major conflict, as many of the codes that this development is subject to have been revised by the same staff member who approves some of the developer’s permits. Specific codes were changed in August 2019 in the MPD section of the Coalville City Code that give the Wohali Development a major advantage when attempting to fit their project in Coalville’s AG Zone. Whether or not this was intentionally done to benefit the developer, it has caused mistrust between city staff and many of its residents. The way Mr. Sargent is paid was also brought into question. It was pointed out that Coalville City pays his hourly rate for the code revision work. Wohali reimburses the city for Don’s time spent on their project – this money is then paid to him through the city. Later, it was pointed out that Don Sargent was heavily involved with the controversial and failed Allen Hollow Project that nearly bankrupted Coalville City over a decade ago. For these reasons and many others that were brought up at the meeting the public requested the council look into rebidding for Mr. Sargent’s position(s) with the city, and also keeping more of a separation between city staff and developers. It was suggested that the contracts of the other city consultants also be reviewed by the council and reconsidered before finalizing the 2020 budget.
After the members of the public had spoken, the mayor kept the public hearing portion open. He entertained a back and forth conversation between public, council and staff. This was a refreshing change from previous public hearings. The mayor, council and staff explained their reasoning for allowing Don Sargent to revise code and work with the developer. They also defended the way funds were transferred from the developer to cover his wages. Questions were asked of the attending public and, for a while, a good dialogue took place. However, near the end of the meeting, a couple of members of the city staff disputed that Don Sargent had been involved in the Allen Hollow project and took issue with the public for making “unfounded” allegations against Mr. Sargent.
All The Rest
The other items on the agenda were handled quickly and the meeting was soon dismissed. The next city council meeting will be held on Monday, July 13, 2020. This will be yet another public hearing and work session regarding the Wohali MPD, Phase 1 Preliminary Subdivision. The main task of this meeting will be for the council to determine how they want to handle the 303 nightly rentals that are proposed in Wohali’s Application #2.
As a follow-up to staff comments at this meeting, members of the CFRG group did a little digging into the history of Coalville City to locate independent verification of Don Sargent’s previous positions with city. Numerous Park Record Articles were found that clearly demonstrate that Don Sargent was the Community Development Director at the time and was directly involved with the failed Allen Hollow Development. In the County Report section of the January 22, 2000 issue of The Park Record it states: “In other Coalville news, Sargent said he is in the midst of drawing up a master plan for the Allen Hollow area east of the town’s cemetery. Sargent was directed to draw up the plan by the city council after several potential buyers interested in purchasing land in Allen Hollow contacted the city…”
Keep following the postings on this site, as well as those on Coalville City’s. Please plan to attend and speak at the next public hearing or email your council members and the Mayor with your questions and concerns about the proposed Wohali Application #2 or your suggestions for changes you would like to see in the Coalville City 2020 budget.