Home News City Council meeting sparks discussion of Rexburg’s future

City Council meeting sparks discussion of Rexburg’s future

Rexburg City Council welcomed new employees, received updates on current projects and addressed mayoral concerns during their meeting on May 18.

They focused their meeting on three main topics: the future of Rexburg housing, a city-wide fiber-optic network and the cleanliness of city parks.

Nelson Moak, a new employee for the city water department, shakes hands with Mayor Jerry Merrill.
Nelson Moak, a new employee for the city water department, shakes hands with Mayor Jerry Merrill. Photo credit: Abigayl Finch

Rexburg Housing

A main talking point of the meeting was discussing how to decrease the number of short-term rentals not in compliance with city code.

According to the Rexburg City Building department, a short-term rental is defined as a “structure containing guest room(s) where lodging, with or without meals, is provided on a daily, weekly or monthly basis for compensation. The structure shall be occupied by the owner, a manager or the owner’s agent for at least thirty (30) days prior to rental contracts and visits.” Some examples of short-term rentals are bed and breakfasts, boarding houses and Airbnb vacation rentals.

Many individuals also open short-term rentals to alleviate the price of a mortgage.

In order to incentivize compliance with city code, Deborah Lovejoy, a city clerk, proposed a new fining process for those in violation.

Current owners of short-term rentals will receive a note saying they have 30 days to come into compliance. Fines will increase up to a maximum of $400 the longer a short-term rental host refuses to comply.

If 90 days pass, the host loses the ability to register their rental in the city and will be turned over to a collection agency. If one continues to avoid paying a collection agency, they are placed on collection status, which may lead to a lowered credit score.

Alan Parkinson, the Planning and Zoning Administrator, hopes the new process helps bring more into compliance.

“The city’s not messing around,” Parkinson said. “You ought to get registered and do it right.”

Another area of interest to the Planning and Zoning Department is the increased interest of BYU-Idaho apartment complexes converting to condominiums and shortterm rentals.

Representatives from University View, current BYU-I approved housing, will meet with Rexburg City Council on Jun. 1 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss their plans for transition.

Keith Davidson, Rexburg’s Public Works director, brings agenda items to the council’s attention.
Keith Davidson, Rexburg’s Public Works director, brings agenda items to the council’s attention. Photo credit: Abigayl Finch

Rexburg Fiberoptic

Todd Smith from the Information Technology Department proposed a 5-year partnership with Wide Open Networks, a fiberoptic company from Blacksburg, Virginia.

According to Wide Open Networks’ website, their upload speeds are as fast as download speeds and won’t slow down in the afternoon or evening.

Subscribers to Wide Open Networks can receive up to 2-gigabit internet, which means you can download and upload up to 2 gigabits per second and upload up to 1 gigabit per second.

The project would cost $200,000 per year with an additional $100,000 in startup fees over the first years. Smith said the city would work with Madison County to balance costs.

Smith said the city wouldn’t see customers for Wide Open Networks until at least March 2023.

Rexburg City Council holds meetings at City Hall every other Wednesday.
Rexburg City Council holds meetings at City Hall every other Wednesday. Photo credit: Abigayl Finch

Rexburg Parks

Jerry Merrill, the Mayor of Rexburg, expressed concern about a lack of enforcement for two city ordinances: Ordinance 1225 and Ordinance 2020. The ordinances state in parks owned by the city, dogs are only allowed on leashes. Additionally, owners must clean up after their dogs.

Merrill said neither of these ordinances are being followed nor enforced by the city.

“We’ve had some really bad issues with dog feces in our parks,” Merrill said. “We had some friends who were thinking about coming to the Yellowstone Cup soccer tournament. They were saying, we love your fields but they are riddled with dog feces and we might not want to come if that’s where they’re going to be like. It’s not only a problem here, the word is spreading.”

Council members suggested various solutions to solve these issues: Giving parks personnel authority to write citation tickets, making the signs explaining the ordinances bigger or putting doggie bag stations in each park.

The council decided they would give warnings for the next few weeks, then start issuing citations. They will also launch a public awareness campaign to help members of the community pick up after their dogs and keep the park clean.

“I hope we understand that we can have a little bit of patience while still encouraging people to do better,” said Bryanna Johnson, a member of the council.

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