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Cedar City gives green light to transit study

CEDAR CITY — The City Council here has approved its contribution to a $30,000 study into expanding public transit service to Brian Head.

Eighty percent of the cost of the study will be covered by the Utah Department of Transportation, and 20 percent will be paid collectively by interested cities.

Brian Head agreed to pay $3,000, Parowan contributed $1,000 and Cedar City pitched in $2,000.

In past council discussions, benefits to tourism appeared to be the primary reason for joining the study.

Cedar City resident Brian Tavoian said prior to the council's 4-1 vote last week that while tourism is a "lifeblood" for the city, he was concerned that the Cedar Area Transportation Service was not making money for the city, and spending tax dollars on the study was a waste if CATS didn't bring in revenue.

"Is it always going to be subsidized? If it is, why are we going to a different community to ask for money? It doesn't make sense to me," Tavoian said. ?

Cedar City public works director Rick Holman said the city can now request funds from UDOT and soon will select a consultant to form a steering committee. Holman said tourism representatives from Brian Head, Parowan and Cedar City also will be placed on the steering committee.

The feasibility study will be conducted by members of the steering committee to collect and analyze data on the different potential user groups of the CATS service; to observe and decide the different levels of service to be considered; to consider what costs would be involved for both capital and operating investments; and to determine what sources of potential revenue would come from expanding the CATS service.

"We will evaluate the public's desire to have the service," Holman said. "I think it'll be good information for cities to use for decision making."

Holman said he estimates the feasibility study will take between 90 and 120 days to complete. Based on the results of the study, the communities will collectively decide what they would like to do.

In other business, the council discussed SB20, a bill before the state Legislature that proposes local service districts be allowed to implement a groundwater management plan in cooperation with the Utah state engineer.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dennis Stowell, R-Parowan, is intended to remedy the problem of water rights being over-allocated.

The bill would allow a new service to be created to oversee groundwater use, or it would expand the authority of existing districts to acquire and hold groundwater rights.

Cedar City Mayor Joe Burgess said he doesn't see Cedar City approving another conservancy district.

"I don't see it happening," he said. "I think it would be detrimental to us, and I don't see what we would have to gain by doing that, because we already have a water conservancy district."