City takeover of Alta Utilities goes before voters

Friday, September 10, 2021

A dramatic change in the Alta Municipal Utilities operation will go before local voters on the November general election ballot. The council voted unanimously Monday to place the measure on the ballot.

In July, a petition was circulating calling for the city council to take over what has been an independent utility organization, eliminating the Alta Utilities Board.

Petitioners felt that the city would be better served with “one governing body” to operate “more effectively and efficiently for its citizens.”

The petition contended that Alta citizens “have no say or voice” in what the utility board or the utility superintendent do, as opposed to the council, where voters can put people in or out of office. It claimed that the utility supervisor is creating a “bidding war” on salaries, with high pay and equipment expenditures putting a burden on taxpayers.

City Clerk Megan Peterson said that she feels the petition meets all the requirements to call the vote, and told the council that it had no alternative but to approve adding the measure to the ballot.

Mayor Kevin Walsh earlier said that he does not support the proposed change, but noted that communication between the city and the utility has been lacking, as well as an opportunity for sharing some equipment and possibly labor between the utility and the city.

The city council recently expressed concern after the Utilities Board arranged for security cameras to be added to the City Hall building without informing the city, then reportedly charged the city half the price if it wanted access to the footage. Council members in July called the action “blackmail” and “uprofessional.”