Alta to offer texting service to residents

Friday, January 8, 2021

Alta residents will soon be able to receive communications via text from the city. The Alta City Council, at the Jan. 4th meeting, voted unanimously to purchase a texting service for its citizens. Its purpose is to get the word out to the public, Mayor Kevin Walsh said. The city’s cost will be $1,200 for the first year and $1,000 per year for subsequent years, and the service will be free to residents in the 51002 zip code.

A committee was formed to locate a company and three were under consideration. They selected TextCaster based on price, service, usability and ease of administering the plan. “I was quite impressed,” Council Member Pam Henderson said. The service will begin once administrative details are complete.

Mayor Walsh asked how the city can acquire everyone’s texting numbers. Alta City Clerk Megan Peterson said, “We would have a link on our website and you just go sign up yourself. It fills a database with this program. Our goal then is just to get the word out. If people don’t have internet accessibility, I can register them.”

Peterson said another benefit of the system is since phone numbers will be in a database, it will be helpful to city utilities personnel because some residents fail to update their cell numbers and e-mails with the city. She mentioned that Alta-Aurelia schools provide this type of texting system for students and staff. “I think it would be a great thing,” she said.

Mayor Walsh said the service is primarily to relay snow information to residents with additional purposes as well. Peterson suggested that during the winter months, she could send a weekly reminder about the winter snow ordinance. She said other purposes are to relay changes to garbage pickup dates, pool closures in the summer, city council meeting reminders and utilities information such as water issues. The texts can be followed up with a phone number where residents can get more information if needed.

“From the city’s perspective, I’d like to use it just as general communication and not just in emergencies,” Peterson said. “I think it would be a great asset for our community at a very reasonable cost,” Mayor Walsh said.

In other council news:

Alta resident Jesse Barnett voiced his disagreement with the city’s winter snow ordinance parking ban which prohibits residents from parking on city streets from November through April during specified nighttime hours to allow snow plows to clear the streets. He and others recently were ticketed while those who parked in their yards were not which is a city ordinance violation. Peterson said parking in yards is overseen by the code enforcement officer who holds a part-time position and is not always available to issue citations. Peterson said the winter snow ordinance parking ban exists because some residents have limited access to communication and do not see reminders about parking. Barnett will consider circulating a petition.

The city council will hold a special budget meeting Jan. 11th, and the next regular meeting is scheduled for Feb. 1st.