You Asked, We Responded – Weber County Commissioners Q&A
As your commissioners, we are working hard in an evolving economy and changes in our world today. Like many of you, we individually have personal regard and love for Weber County, as it has been the foundation for our families. We want this community to be a place our children want to live, work, and play as well. It is important to us that we listen to our residents and their concerns as Weber County expands to house our families and what that looks like for each of us. We hosted an hour-long Tele Town Hall with over 1,500 residents in attendance. We received questions from you, and it is our pleasure and duty to respond.
Q. What projects are we focusing on with the ARPA grant program?
A. For those who may not know, ARPA stands for American Rescue Plan Act. It is Federal funding that has been passed down to state, county, and local governments across the country. It is dedicated to funding projects to help our current residents, kids, and grandkids in the future living in our community. We have followed the close direction under the ARPA Treasury Act and will prioritize culinary water, wastewater/ sewer, and broadband projects. The awarding of these funds is currently in the process, and we anticipate announcing the awards projects in the coming months.
Q. What is the status of the Masterplan for West Weber?
A. It has been an ongoing project for the last five years. We are actively involved in finalizing this community-centered plan right now, while having multiple planning commission meetings as well as public meetings to gather your input. On May 24, we will have a public hearing for unveiling the Master Plan, and we invite you all to attend. Please look for more information about this meeting in the coming months on our social media pages as well as our website. We anticipate this plan will work to preserve the West Weber quality of life while sustainably managing the inevitable growth coming our way.
Q. What is our next focus in Weber County’s economic development?
A. Our focus remains steadfast to what it’s always been: our local businesses. Two years ago, the CARES Act funding focused on helping the small businesses of our county. We helped over 850 small businesses with an average payout of $15,000. Most cities and counties took that money and put it in their own pockets. We know Weber County depends on our local businesses as the backbone of our economy, and we will continue to focus on this. We are always looking to bring in a variety of new businesses with high-paying jobs. We especially appreciate the growth in the manufacturing and technical trades. These are in high demand, and we have multiple schools in the area providing the best-in-class talent.
Q. What steps are you taking to properly manage water?
A. This has been a tricky question since Utah was founded. As your county commissioners, we know there are components to this that are in our control and many which are not. The county is working to encourage Xeriscape yards, whereas, in the past, there have been greenery requirements. As far as who controls the water, we have no responsibility there as the county. Water is owned by the state of Utah and managed by the districts that grant rights to the water. All the water that comes from the Weber River is managed and granted rights by Weber Basin Water Conservancy District. The water from Pineview Dam is owned by Weber Basin and Ogden City. There are multiple other water districts in the area as well, and they have a responsibility to manage that water.
Q. What will be done about the homeless?
A. This is a tough process, and COVID made this hurdle even bigger for us. Our homeless shelter in Ogden City, the Lantern House, has been open and available to our homeless population. The Lantern House provides shelter and a professional team who help these folks find resources such as drug abuse treatment, housing, food, and jobs. With housing and rental rates being as high as they are, we have run into issues with transitional housing for these citizens before they get into more permanent situations. We have just received a $1.9 million grant with an additional $1 million from the county for the Weber Housing Authority to create a transitional housing unit. We are optimistic about this and believe it will assist our homeless population.
Q. What actions are you taking to maintain affordable housing for the majority?
A. The answer is not easy, as it is a supply-and-demand issue. Currently, we have very limited supply and huge demand. What we must do to ensure our kids and grandkids have some type of affordable housing in the future is to offer different types of housing or mixed housing such as condos and townhomes in multiple areas. This creates financial possibilities more so than a single-family home purchase. We are optimistic that, with this new General Plan for the western part of the county, we will have some type of agreement with our cities that may be directed toward workforce housing and towards less expensive or mixed-use housing. This would incorporate some type of commercial development, which, in turn, can drive down the cost of that housing for our kids and grandkids.
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