by A.C. Hall
Two issues before the City Council received regulations on Tuesday evening. Following up on discussions from last month, council voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance that sets up a dress code for all city owned buildings and city property. This dress code states that excessively baggy pants that reveal underwear or any part of the buttocks are not allowed on city property. Breaking this dress code can see an individual asked to leave the premises and possibly issued a citation. Anyone refusing to leave the premises after being instructed to do so could be arrested for criminal trespassing.
Council member Steve Ott presented the e-cigarette regulation item to council, saying he and EDC board member Paul Moore worked together to bring this regulation forward. Ott stated that there are currently no regulations on e-cigarettes, which are smokeless cigarettes that can be loaded with flavored tobacco. The council member went on to say that it’s possible to dismantle the e-cigarettes and load them with illegal drugs.
“We need to get out ahead of this before something happens,” Ott said.
The proposed ordinance would prohibit the sell or possession of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18, the same age they must be to purchase or possess regular cigarettes.
One concern raised by Ott was the many flavors of tobacco that can be put into the e-cigarettes. As he listed the many fruit flavors offered, he described who he believes the companies are targeting.
“They’re being marketed towards children,” Ott said.
Moore addressed the council, saying he’s been told that e-cigarette use is rampant at Brewer High School, relating reports that students are smoking them outside the school and sometimes even in the classroom when teachers aren’t looking. He said he’s reached out to a member of the WSISD board of trustees about the issue.
A motion to approve the e-cigarette ordinance passed unanimously.
Council partners with retail consulting firm
After hearing presentations from several retail expansion and development consulting firms over the past few months, the council was finally ready to make a decision on the matter on Tuesday. As far as which firm they chose, the council appeared to be firmly behind The Retail Coach, whose vice president Aaron Farmer was on hand.
“If we’re going to go with a company, this is the best company,” EDC Director Jim Ryan said.
With a clear choice ahead of them, council debated if, and also when, to implement a relationship with The Retail Coach. Ryan maintained a neutral stance on the matter as he addressed council, saying the city was doing fine without them but could likely do better with them. When pressed for a more direct answer, Ryan spoke about the advantages of hiring The Retail Coach.
“They can get people to come in here that I can’t get,” Ryan said.
The major issue before council was wasting time, as having The Retail Coach begin surveying traffic patterns and other retail recruitment metrics might be wasted since those are all likely to change once Hawaiian Falls opens in May. This led to discussions of possibly waiting a few months to enter into an agreement.
Council member Mike Arnold spoke openly about his reservations against going with any consulting firm right now, saying that he felt the retail growth was going to come to the city on its own once Hawaiian Falls opens.
“Once they see what we’re doing out here, we’re gonna have contacts,” Arnold said. “I’m not for it because I think we’ll do our own best with City people.”
Mayor Jerry Burns expressed his feelings that a consulting firm is like “adding another tool into your toolbelt,” but wasn’t without reservations of his own as he spoke about bad experiences the City has had with consultants in the past.
“We’ve had some big goose eggs,” Mayor Burns said.
Farmer responded to these concerns, stating that one reason not to wait to begin is because it takes time to get his firm into place and ready to go, as there is a lot of legwork to do. He also stated that he extended the first part of the contract from 12 months to 18 months specifically to ease council’s fears that the first several months prior to Hawaiian Falls opening would be wasted.
Council members Elzie Clements and Danny Anderson voiced their feeling that they should get started with The Retail Coach right away.
“If we don’t start now, we’re going to be so far behind the eight ball,” Anderson said.
Council member Gene Hatcher agreed with their stance, saying it was time to strike while the iron is hot.
“We’ve had a lot of years to fill this place up with real estate and this is the time,” Hatcher said.
A motion was made to approve the agreement with The Retail Coach at a cost of $35,000 for the first 18 months. The second year of the agreement is set to cost $20,000. That motion was passed 4 to 1, with Arnold voting against.
Council shoots down attendance to retail convention
With the consulting firm in place, council then considered attendance to a major retail recruitment event happening in Las Vegas in May. The Retail Coach will be in attendance there, and while they will do work on White Settlement’s behalf, they’ll also be representing their other clients. Council member Anderson spoke about the benefit of having a few people from council and possibly city staff there as well to work with The Retail Coach.
Entry into the event is $635, and the estimate for travel was around $350 per person. Hatcher stated that this was too expensive, and they should just let The Retail Coach represent them at the meeting. Anderson made a motion to approve attendance of any on the council who wished to go along with the EDC Director Jim Ryan. That motion failed 2 to 3, with Anderson and Clements for it and Ott, Arnold, and Hatcher against.
After the motion failed, Anderson continued attempts to find a way to get to the event.
“Would the council consider paying the entry fee if a council member paid his own way?” Anderson asked.
Arnold was quick to say no, saying he wouldn’t wish to do that. Mayor Burns told Anderson that the vote they just held answered his question.
“The will of the council was they said no,” Mayor Burns said.
Anderson responded quickly, saying he’ll just pay his own way to go to the convention. He went on to call the council’s decision to vote against attendance “sad.”