Bluff Town Council Briefs: April 9, 2019

The Bluff Town Council hosted its second public hearing on Tuesday for its plans to use a $96,300 Community Development Block Grant to fund a town water study.

Mayor Ann Leppanen said, “The purpose of [the study] is to analyze and identify available water resources, water rights, water distribution facilities, and water needs for the newly incorporated town of Bluff. It will include a hydrological assessment, a water rights analysis, a demographic planning component, an assessment on current and projected water needs, [and] a facilities plan.”

The proposal was put together by Sunrise Engineering, but bids may be submitted from other firms for the final study.

Leppanen also outlined Bluff’s Capital Investment Plan, which shows Community Impact Board grant proposals for a $1.2 million water infrastructure upgrade and $150,000 to potentially purchase the old Bluff Elementary School building.

Councilmember Linda Sosa reported that she attended a meeting with the Business Owners of Bluff (BOB) to explain the recently passed municipal Transient Room Tax increase of 1% and a Resort Tax increase of 1.1%. Both taxes would be charged to tourists who stay overnight in town starting in July 2019.

Several BOB members spoke at the meeting to express concerns that hotel reservations have already been made under the old tax rate for July-December 2019, which may cause problems such as back taxes for hotel owners.

Cindy Tumeh of the Desert Rose Inn said, “I don’t want a tax increase, but I understand we need money for the town to run.” She added that the increases would mean a total of a 13% tax rate for lodging in Bluff, and asked that the taxes be added incrementally instead of increasing them all at once.

“I think we need this money to run our town,” Councilmember Brant Murray said, “and I hate that the timing is bad. But I’m going to advocate that we keep in place everything we voted to pass. It’s $2.10 per $100.”

Leppanen proposed continuing the discussion at a work session on Friday, April 12 at 9:30, where alcohol ordinances will also be discussed.

Noxious weed plans were touched on at the meeting, and Sarah Burak of the Planning & Zoning discussed progress on the town’s General Plan. She said the P&Z committee recommended tabling a decision about whether to accept a new road in the Copper Cliffs Subdivision until after the building moratorium is lifted.