By Mayor Trent Staggs
The 2022 Utah Legislative Session came to a close on March 4. Over the 45-day session, our state legislators passed over 500 bills that covered a wide range of issues from tax cuts, criminal justice, water conservation, and education. This year was also unique due to an increase in one-time funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was passed by Congress back in 2021. In response, our state legislators had the opportunity to decide how best to spend the remainder of the state’s ARPA funds in a way that best maximizes their potential.
This year, we took a special interest in House Bill 242 – Secondary Water Metering Amendments. In a time of drought, the ability to educate the public on water use is a strategic step to protecting our precious water resources. While H.B. 242 mandates water suppliers to meter all secondary connections by 2030, it does not require the city to charge based on usage. The hope is that by demonstrating on our water bills exactly how much secondary water we use, versus what the recommended use is, we will conserve. This has proven to be true in parts of the state where it has already been implemented.
In a previous legislative session, the state had mandated secondary water meters be installed at the city’s expense. HB 242 reduced this unfunded mandate by allocating $200 million of state ARPA funds for secondary water meters. These funds will be dispersed through a matching grant program that provides a state match of 70% during the first two years and then decreases at different intervals every year until 2030.
While Riverton City has already completed phase one of our secondary metering project, we still need about $10 million dollars to close out phases two and three. With access to our own ARPA funds, and the newly established grant program outlined in H.B. 242, we will be able to provide secondary meters to the rest of our city without incurring any additional debt. This will allow us to keep secondary water rates at their current levels.
A second bill we closely monitored was House Bill 151 – Retail Facility Incentive Payments Amendments. Unlike H.B. 242, I was a staunch critic of this piece of legislation as it would have severely restricted the ability to provide incentives to retail businesses inside our newly established Community Reinvestment Areas that reside in front of Riverton City Hall and Riverton City Park. Luckily, through the hard work of our city lobbyist, the Utah League of Cities & Towns, and our local legislators, multiple exceptions were included within H.B. 151 that will allow us to move forward with developing our two CRA areas and help us bring in new retail and dining options to Riverton’s east side.
Ultimately, this year’s legislative session was a success and I want to thank Senator Dan McCay, Senator Lincoln Fillmore, Representative Candice Pierucci, Representative Mark Strong and Representative Susan Pulsipher for their continued support and hard work in representing the great people of Riverton.