By Kirk Kern
The Mesquite City Council held a special meeting and work session on Tuesday, Sept. 7, to listen to a staff presentation regarding spending of $26 million earmarked toward fiscal recovery.
The council voted 5-0 to accept the proposal.
The fiscal recovery funds can be designated for four categories of eligible use: public health and economic impacts; premium pay; revenue loss; and investments in infrastructure.
Mesquite’s overall total funding is $26,501.498.44, divided into fundings of $13,250,749.22 in each of two years. All funds must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024 and must be spent by Dec. 31, 2026.
All projects must identify a need or negative impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the entity shall identify how the program, service or other intervention addresses the identified ned or impact.
Year One allocations from the staff proposals included:
• $2.5 million to replace the field turf at the Regional Sports and Events Complex
• $2 million for the Pickleball Courts Phase II
• $2 million for renovation and expansion
of the Justice Facility
• $2 million to replace HVAC units in all city buildings
• $2 million in the stabilization fund to replace lost city revenue
• $1 million in premium pay for city employees who faced extra work challenges due to COVID-19.
Year Two allocations included:
* $3.6 million to demo and replace Fire Station One
• $1 million for expansion of the animal shelter
• $2.5 million for facilities improvement for the Regional Sports and Event Complex, including slope protection
• $1 million for new radios (all facilities)
• $1 million for waterline installation at the Mesquite Technology and Commerce Center
• $1.5 million for campus roof removal and replacement.
There were a number of other items budgeted at lesser costs that brought the budget up to $13.251 million for each year.
One of the biggest discussions about the list was the demolition and replacement of Fire House One, which is located at 10 E. Mesquite Blvd., right behind City Hall. The proposal would demo and replace the fire station, with the exception of the bays that house the trucks.
Councilwoman Sandra Ramaker brought up the possibility of moving the fire station from its current location to the empty lot in front of the library. Travis Anderson, public works director, said the demolition of the firehouse and new construction would take about eight months and would require rental of a trailer to house the firefighters during this timeframe.
He said the cost of completely moving the fire station to the area in front of the library would be only slightly higher than building on the new location with new bays because of some of the other costs involved.
Councilman Wes Boger, who had brought up this idea at a previous meeting, asked that a discussion about moving the fire station be placed on a future agenda.
The money toward the new pickleball courts would accelerate the planned second phase that would include restrooms, pavilions and lights. It would also move the Redevelopment funds planned for Phase 2 for other purposes.
Mayor Al Litman said this, along with the new turf at the Regional Sports and Events Complex, should bring a good return on investment for the city. Nicholas Montoya, director of Athletics and Leisure Services, said the City of St. George had seen an economic impact of $5 million in tourism by adding pickleball courts for people visiting for tournaments. He said St. George has 48 public courts and 30 private courts.
The discussion of budgeted premium pay will be to provide additional “back pay” to those who’s jobs led to additional exposure to COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic. Eligible workers would be allowed up to $13 an hour (up to $25,000 maximum for the year) above the worker’s normal pay.
“Think of it as back pay for all the work they did during COVID-19,” Anderson said.
Councilman Brian Wursten asked if this funding was limited to only city employees or could be expanded to those in the private sector.
“The people at Smith’s were out there seeing more people than anyone else,” he said. “I had to ask to find out what we are able to do.”
Anderson said the budgeted amount was for city employees, but it hasn’t been determined how to distribute the funds.