Tuesday, August 11, 2020


Moab, UT

91.8 F

    Letter: City’s budget was wrecked before COVID-19

    Featured Stories

    Survey: Local parents want daily in-person teaching

    “I really don’t think that 40% of all people are not going to send their kid to school.”

    Tales of Trails: Savor spectacular views from thrilling Shafer Trail

    In the 1890s, Moab pioneer brothers Frank M. And John S. Shafer developed the route from what had been a Native American pathway connecting what is now Canyonlands National Park to the river below.

    At 99, Moab man is knighted by France

    “The French people will never forget his courage and devotion to the great cause of freedom,”

    Leaving Guatemala, Part 4: ‘A year in the land of eternal spring’

    Though I planned to return someday, whether as a Peace Corps volunteer or not, this experience proved that even the best-laid plans go awry.

    Leaving Guatemala, Part 3: Sudden departure came with painful goodbyes

    Men donned wooden masks and numerous layers of sweatshirts and ponchos then proceeded to hit each other with whips as they danced around the town square.
    Public submissions to The Times-Independent can range from press releases to obituaries to feature stories and news. All submissions are subject to editorial review and approval.
    File photo by Carter Pape


    There’s been little “splash” about the dismissal of the Moab Recreations and Aquatics Center director and the reclassification of its other two managers as “part-time/no benefits” staff. Folks should really be paying a little closer attention to this move because it was only part of a major reorganization of the City of Moab that was largely done behind closed doors.

    The reductions in force and disassembly of departments was ostensibly carried out because COVID-19 wrecked the city’s budget. However, if you look back in city minutes to late 2019, you’ll see that the city administration and council were repeatedly warned by financial personnel that they were outspending their resources and the reserves were gone.

    It’s no wonder they were in dire straits given the hiring spree, legal fees and raises that occurred during 2016-2019. Add to that the exorbitant raise the city council and mayor gave themselves and you have the recipe for the disaster we’re seeing today. The point here is this: don’t believe the spin the city is giving as the cause for the current budget wreck. Yes, the pandemic is crushing the city, but by the time the pandemic hit, the city was already in deep budgetary trouble.

    I read through about a year of minutes trying to find something about the city reorganization and could find nothing. True, personnel matters are not discussed publicly, but action cannot be taken in executive session. Meetings held with one or two council members to avoid a quorum are also not a good or lawful way to conduct city business. I’m in the process of collecting a list of all the city positions that were eliminated or reclassified, but the public should know this didn’t just hit MRAC. It impacted public works, water, sewer, streets, recreation, parks, police, and administrative staff.

    This was a giant reorganization done without any input from the public. I wonder if there was any discussion about eliminating pay and benefits for city council and the mayor? In 2019 members of the Moab City Council were making $9,703.22; today they are making $30,814, including benefits. The mayor was making $15,378.29; today she is making $37,410, including benefits. While I worry about anyone not having health insurance these days, it certainly didn’t phase decision-makers at the city to strip longtime employees of health insurance and/or jobs during a pandemic. At the very heart of this reorganization issue is how people are treated. And in this case, the city failed miserably in respecting its loyal employees.

    The dismissal of Terry Lewis and reclassification of the aquatic center is how many of us came to find out about the reorganization. The pool and other facilities at the MRAC were fought hard for and have been professionally run and cared for by Terry and her managers. The pool and gym aren’t just “fluff.”

    The facility is often used in concert with physician-ordered physical therapy. It gives our kids a place to play, laugh and exercise. It gives older people a place to stay strong and social. Should part-time/non-benefited employees or former lifeguards be charged with managing such an important community resource, especially during a pandemic? What will this do to the city’s liability and insurance rates?

    Will you feel comfortable letting your child recreate there? I guess we’ll all have to wait and see what happens, but at least some of us aren’t going to gamble that it will remain the safe environment it’s been for 10 years. Join me in asking questions and demanding transparency of your government.

    Remember, they work for you.

    — Janet Buckingham

    Share this!

    - Advertisement -

    Latest News

    County: No avoiding tax hike — even during a pandemic

    Were the property tax increase to be rescinded, he said Grand County “would literally be totally broke.”

    USFS proposes campground fee increases

    Members of the public are invited to comment on the proposed fee changes to the developed recreation program.

    Pine Gulch burns north of Grand Junction

    Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Maribeth Pecotte said the fire continued to grow in Sunday’s hot and dry conditions, which are expected to persist through the first half of the week.

    Zion rangers looking for vandals; squares painted on stone

    While most of the paint was removed, the area still has some paint remaining on the sandstone

    BLM lifts fire bans in Tres Rios, Uncompahgre field office areas

    “The BLM areas near the City of Durango are ‘Day Use Only,’ and overnight camping and campfires are prohibited to reduce fire risk."