Toquerville City Council increases water rates, further discusses proposed dog park

For illustration purposes only | Photo by Evgen_Prozhyrko/ iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Toquerville City Council voted unanimously at their Wednesday meeting to increase city water rates for next year. The council also further discussed proposed park improvements and dog park at Trail Ridge Park.

Toquerville City Council holds a meeting at Town Hall in Toquerville, Utah, April 21, 2021 | Screenshot courtesy of the city of Toquerville’s YouTube page, St. George News

During the meeting, council member Ty Bringhurst made a motion to raise the base rate for culinary and non-irrigation gallon usage to $55, which would increase water rates by $18.79 on average. The stepped rates will remain at $4 for 10-15 gallons, $6 for 15-20 gallons and $8 for 20 gallons. Bringhurst also proposed an annual one-time fee of $130 to $150, depending on acreage, for residents who live in areas without a secondary water source. 

After nearly an hour of debate among council members and the audience, the council voted unanimously to approve Bringhurst’s motion. Mayor Lynn Chamberlain told the audience that as citizens who also have to pay for water, the council was not happy about the water increases either. 

“We’re not excited about raising these rates,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is that we have to pay for our water … and we have to fund it, and the city can’t fund it without the citizens.”

The water rates will be reviewed and assessed annually after Wednesday’s vote. 

Council also heard from resident Brad Langston, who asked for an update on the proposed park improvements at Trail Ridge Park after Council’s last meeting on April 7. Langston said he is working closely with resident Jeff Willmitt, who proposed the dog park and is currently raising funds to build a community gathering place in honor of his late mother.

Council member Justin Sip told St. George News that the city is still gathering information and discussing the project. He added that most residents and council members are in favor of park improvements, but not necessarily a fenced dog park.

“It’s not dead; it’s not gone away,” Sip said. “But there’s not very much excitement about a dog park.”

Because the city of Toquerville has no leash law, residents can currently walk their dogs off leash at Trail Ridge Park. This is one reason why the council is considering building the park without fences, Sip said. The city will hold meetings in the near future with a parks and trails committee, which Sip said he will ask Willmitt to serve on.

Sip added that he is encouraging Willmitt to continue raising funds for the park even if an enclosed dog park is not included. 

This discussion follows a public hearing held April 7 to hear from residents about how they would feel about the dog park. Several residents spoke at that meeting, most of whom were in favor of park improvements. Willmitt also spoke, saying he decided to propose the park because of his late mother Renee Willmitt, who immigrated from England after the Liverpool bombings during World War II and loved dog parks. 

Jeff Willmitt speaks to Toquerville City Council at a meeting in Toquerville, Utah, April 7, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Jeff Willmitt, St. George News

“She always encouraged me to assimilate, welcome ourselves to the mother country and be appreciative, and in turn see what you could do to contribute to the community,” he told the council during the April 7 meeting. “One of the draws I had here, and I tried to get here for 10 years, was the logo that said, ‘It’s the people.’ And quite honestly, I want to be one of those people.”

Not everyone has been enthusiastic about park improvements. Willmitt told St. George News that he has received unkind messages from residents who say they want the park left alone. However, Langston said Wednesday that Willmitt has already raised $21,310, including donations to his GoFundMe page.

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

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