Keeping the city dry

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City asked to take over levee

By John Shindlebower


This week’s persistent rains and minor flooding offers a timely reminder about the importance of flood control efforts in the city of Taylorsville. More specifically, the levee wall and pump stations.
Currently, there’s been an elected board to oversee the regular maintenance and emergency operation of the pumps and the levee, but that could change. Mike Driscoll, who has served on the Levee Commission for several years, asked the Taylorsville City Commission last week to consider assuming responsibility for the levee and its operations.
“We’d like to see the city be the sponsor of this,” said Driscoll. Currently, he is the lone member of the commission and when nominations for candidates for the three-person commission were held last year, no one stepped up.
He said the Levee Commission worked hard in recent years on a recertification effort that resulted in raising levee fees from those within the city. He said those residents did their part by helping fund the project. The levee is now certified and should be good for years to come.
“We’ve got this in very good shape,” said Driscoll of the levee.
However, he said responsibility for maintaining and operating the levee shouldn’t be put on one person, and said the city could do a better job of assuming control and prepping the city in case of flooding dangers.
Driscoll has been helped in the past by Mike Woodford, who has played a key role during the recertification process and who did a significant amount of research for the project. Last Wednesday, Woodford and Driscoll met with some city officials, including Mayor Matt Douglas, along with local police and first responders, as they ran through the process of testing the pumps that are used to drain the Taylorsville basin from floodwaters.
During the recertification process, drain lines were installed through the floodwall from the pump station that will greatly reduce the labor needed to prepare the city for high waters. In the past, large hoses had to be carried up the floodwall so water could leave the pumps and empty into the Salt River. Now, fixed pipes carry up to 11,000 gallons a minute of water when both pumps are operating.
Driscoll told the commission that if no one steps up to assume control of the levee, it would lose it’s accreditation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said it should be a simple agreement between the city and the corps for the city to assume control.
“Now that it’s fixed, it’s not that big of a deal,” said Driscol. “It’s just a maintenance issue now. There’s plenty of money for the maintenance.”
Members of the City Commission thanked Driscoll for his years of service and seemed open to having discussions with the Army Corps of Engineers, although no vote was taken. Commissioner Beverly Ingram suggested that the city reach out to the corps to possibly begin the process.
Driscoll described there is a drain pipe near the old Harloc Building that will need to be replaced because it is rusted, and said flood gates need to be checked from time to time for debris. He noted that a recent check found a large log stuck in one of the flood gates, and he and another person could not remove it. They contacted the city, who sent a couple of workers to help remove the log.
Driscoll said that’s an example of why the city might be better suited to take over the responsibility of the levee.
In other action at last week’s City Commission Meeting, the commission:
• Discussed but took no action on the issue of requiring new fees or licenses for food trucks which often park downtown and set up shop.
City Clerk Steve Biven said it was suggested from outside the commission that the city could look at fee to make sure there was an even playing field between established eateries and the food trucks.
It was noted that while brick and mortar businesses must pay insurance premium tax and property tax, the food truck vendors do have to obtain a business license and pay occupational taxes like other businesses.
“I don’t think we should charge them anything else,” said Commissioner Ellen Redmon.
“Why would anyone say they’re getting an advantage,” asked Commissioner Abbigail Nation. “They’re paying a business license.
Ingram did point out that they do not pay the flood wall tax or property taxes, although Redmon noted they do pay taxes on their vehicles.
There did not seem to be any interest in pursuing any additional regulations at this time on the food trucks.