Jerry Merril, Rexburg’s mayor, declared March 11 to be known as Rexburg Founder’s day during the city council meeting on March 1 at city hall. The city chose this date because on March 11, 1883, surveyors outlined the city streets.
Merrill said the city doesn’t have any big celebrations planned for this year, but expressed hope for events in the future.
“We will probably try to have something in years to come that’s a celebration that will be fun,“ Merrill said.
Matt Nielsen, the chief financial officer for the city, asked the city council to approve the budget calendar to begin the budgeting process and prepare for the next fiscal year that begins in October.
One aspect unique to this year’s budgeting process is the opportunity to adjust salaries for the mayor and members of the city council.
Here are the current salaries for these positions:
— Mayor: $82,298
— City council president: $10,835
— City council member: $9,588
Here are the salaries proposed by Nielsen, an approximately 14.5% increase:
— Mayor: $94,243
— City council president: $12,408
— City council member: $10,980
Before these changes can be made, the city will hold a public hearing on May 3 in order to gather public input on the potential changes. Even if the city council approves the changes, they will not be implemented until 2024.
Every two weeks, the city council sets apart some time for members of the public to bring concerns they see in the city before the council to be placed on a future meeting agenda.
Todd Grant, a Jefferson county resident who owns property in Madison county, opposed the building of a Madison county recreation center. His reasons centered on three ideas.
First, Grant believed the proposed recreation center would compete with private businesses and could put private companies out of business.
Second, Grant said the city government was acting outside its proper role.
“The proper role of government is to provide equal rights, not provide equal things,” Grant said.
He did not see the equality in taxing all residents for something only a portion of them would use.
Third, Grant argued that only allowing residents of Madison county to vote on the center is wrong and unconstitutional. Even though he owns property in Madison county and would pay $1500 in property tax if a recreation district was established, he would not be able to vote on any measures to establish a recreation center or a recreation district.
Grant saw the recreation center funded by property taxes as an unnecessary financial burden on families and property owners.
“Madison county government and residents cannot afford to make this expensive mistake,” Grant said.
City parking concerns
Logan Marin, a BYU-Idaho student, also spoke during public comment. He expressed concerns that he and other BYU-I students were being unfairly targeted and ticketed.
Marin told the council that despite having up-to-date license plates, registration and records with the Rexburg police department, he and his wife would have to move their cars around the parking lot near their home or else the city would think their cars were abandoned and ticket them.
He came to city hall and was told moving his car would help ease the process of plowing these parking lots when it snowed and was referred to city ordinance 1094, which deals with how the city should enforce its parking lots. After reading the ordinance, Marin couldn’t find where it said he was required to move his car every 48 hours.
When he reached out for an exemption from the ticket since he possessed the correct parking pass, Marin was told that there was nothing that could be done.
“What I was able to glean from this was that I was ticketed for a law that isn’t on the books,” Marin said.
Marin said he didn’t need to be refunded for his parking ticket.
“I am here asking for the opportunity to be able to leave town, to visit my family on a weekend and not have to come home to a parking (ticket),” Marin said. “To be able to go on a vacation with my wife every once in a while when we can afford it. To be able to live my life, visit my family, as I please within the confines of the semester and the pass without having to worry about being unfairly ticketed.”
The mayor expressed a desire to make things right.
“If we’ve got some laws and ordinances that are at odds with the rules, we definitely want to get those straightened out,” Merrill said. “Either that or we’ve got to make sure that we can explain it to you in a way that makes sense. We want to make sure that our laws and ordinances do make sense so I’d appreciate it if we could do that for you.”
The council referred Marin to Stephen Zollinger, the city attorney, to refund Marin the cost of the ticket and find a solution to the problem.
“This is just a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation that shouldn’t take very long to correct at all,” Zollinger said.
The next city council meeting will be on March 15 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Rexburg City Hall.