By Shayne Bair
Communities struggling to keep their roads and sidewalks in good repair can put part of the blame on more efficient cars.
That was the message Utah state Sen. Lyle Hillyard delivered during a visit to the Richmond City Council on Jan. 19.
During the visit, which came in advance of the executive appropriations chair’s 35th regular session in the Utah Legislature, Hillyard answered questions about the city’s deteriorating roads and lack of sidewalks, and he talked about how to address those issues.
Councilman Jeff Young asked Hillyard about the process of getting funding to build new sidewalks in Richmond. “By the time we receive the funds, it really isn’t worth the time that we have to put into it,” Young said. “Kids are walking down the roads in the wintertime.”
“We can only do two city blocks a year,” Councilman Paul Erickson said. “Our funding is almost nothing.”
“Roads are the number one problem in small communities,” Hillyard said. He blamed the lack of funding on the more efficient cars that are being produced today, and said people are spending less on gas, and therefore less on tax. He also reminded the council that he has previously voted to increase taxes on gasoline in an effort to raise funds.
Councilman Brad Jensen questioned Hillyard about what Richmond can do to generate revenue. “We have raised all of our taxes, and the residents can take no more,” Jensen said.
Hillyard said that when he is in Salt Lake City, he asks big companies to remember their branches in rural places.
“These companies sometimes don’t realize how much of a vital role they play in these small communities,” Hillyard said. “Zion’s Bank, which you all know Mayor Hall works for, is one of the best companies I have ever seen for this.”
Mayor Mike Hall closed the meeting by thanking the senator for his visit and praised him for his accessibility. “Our local legislators are very approachable,” Hall said. “And that is just not something that you see every day.”
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