Buggery 2021

Mosquitos in November? Who thinks about them when you you’re trying to swat the last of fall flies and sweep up those interminable elm bugs? November is the time of the year when people who own property must pay their annual property taxes, and part of those taxes in Salt Lake City/County go towards mosquito abatement. I got my tax bill and $51.63 will go towards getting rid of those pesky things, but next year my estimated tax is going to go to $90.24. What gives?
According to the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement Department (MAD) officials say they need to pay for more employees and for more studies of mosquitoes. How do we get rid of mosquitoes? Sadly, we kill them with chemicals/neurotoxic pesticides – that certainly can’t be healthy for humans or Mother Earth. On the flip side, these flying pests aren’t great for humans because they can carry diseases like West Nile and even Lyme. In September they sprayed around the Utah State Fair site as eleven people had been diagnosed with West Nile virus from Weber to Salt Lake Counties, with one person dying of the virus. That’s better than in 2017 when 62 people were diagnosed with West Nile.
What’s really sobering is the fact that the Utah State Prison is being relocated directly west of the new airport. Thousands of employees at both sites, and prisoners will be providing mosquitoes with some juicy blood next bug season. They go away for good during our first freeze, but start to come back in the spring, peak in the summer and then taper off in the fall. Right now, the only mention of them is on our tax bill but you can bet when the new prison opens and phase two of the airport is completed, we’ll have more reports of mosquito swarms and bites. The $780 million state prison is getting ready to house 3,600 inmates coming this January and those people will attract mosquitoes with every exhale of carbon dioxide.
The executive director of the MAD trapped hundreds of mosquitoes at the current prison site in a 24 hour measurement, but then lured thousands in 24 hours at the new prison site. It’s horrible being in prison for many reasons, and this looming plague just adds another layer of hell to both inmates and staff at the new Utah State prison opening next year. It is built on wetlands that will certainly turn into drylands with this ongoing drought, so it’s possible the bloodsuckers will dry up themselves. Alternatively, there will be less feed for the birds, reptiles and mammals to eat.
Although Salt Lake City homeowners pay for abatement out of property taxes, the state has been paying for treatments/sprays out of the state prison construction fund. Whether those monies will continue to flow will be up to the legislature. Hopefully, the burden will not fall to Salt Lake City residents who will unfortunately suffer from not just the insects, but the toxic chemicals used to treat them.

Gas is Only Cheap At Taco Bell

Just when you thought there was enough bad news to go around, it appears we’re in for another kick in the pants with predictions that utility prices are going to jump this winter.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in October that residential propane prices (most of us don’t use propane in Utah) were starting the winter heating season at their highest level since 2011. For people back east who use heating oil, they will see higher prices than what the past two years brought. ‘Winter Fuels Outlook’ forecasts that U.S. households who use natural gas to heat will spend an average of $746 on heat bills from October-March, which is 30% more than last year. Dominion Energy is passing on an 8.9% increase in natural gas as of this month to all us users in Utah. We’re lucky though that we get our gas from nearby states and Dominion stores it for later use, which keeps the price down.
It’s completely logical that residential prices for energy are going up because more people are staying at home working and using more gas and electricity. Utah has the lowest water prices in the west thanks to our Utah State Legislature, so don’t expect to see any jump in water bills despite the statewide drought.
There are a ton of options to help you pay your bills if you get into financial troubles. The website www.needhelppayingbills.com-ut is a terrific website that will help you find financial help and how to apply for assistance programs in all cities and counties in Utah. Residents who qualify can receive grants for paying utility bills, free medical care, rent or mortgage help. It gives you info on the Food Stamp (EBT cards) program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as well as free legal aid, benefits for the disabled, social services and emergency assistance.
The Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that this winter will be dryer in Southern Utah and the entire region is forecast to record above normal warmer temperatures. For weather geeks like me this year is another La Nina year-just like 2020. But the good news is October brought an early snowpack and sometimes La Nina surprises us and we end up with less snow in the valleys and above average flakes for the mountains. Last year Alta celebrated 553” of snow and we can all fast on Impossible Whoppers and pray to Cryokinesis, the Goddess of Snow for another banner year.
In Utah, Dominion Energy offers help for customers experiences hardship in paying their gas bills. They suggest for any customer to consider a gas Budget Plan that divides an estimated annual gas bill into 12 equal payments. That way instead of paying $300 in January you might just pay $60 a month every month. Commercial customers can also ask for a six month break on past-due balances. To make arrangements, email customercare@dominionenergy.com or call 800-323-5517



Raise your hand if you’re about ready to slap the next person who says the words “supply chain issues”! Snow tires are stuck on container ships and may not arrive until after the Easter Bunny comes in 2022. Rumors abound week to week that we’re running out of toilet paper again, that paper towels, yeast will be hard to find next month. Turkey birds will cost $.25 more per pound, and we may not have enough cranberry jelly to go around come Thanksgiving. Right now, you can walk into about any grocery store and see the spice shelves decimated and limits on bottled water purchases. And related to shortages is the scary news that U.S. households will pay more to heat homes this winter. Federal officials from the Energy Information Administration report that fuel prices are rising, and demand will increase for at least half of the country’s natural gas users…but an average of 30% more, adding electric bills will go up 6%.
I’ve been selling some new construction homes in Daybreak as of late. Builders are having trouble getting things like roofing shingles, sheet rock and faucets. One of the builders, Oakwood Homes has a swell showroom by Fashion Place Mall. Once you pick out your lot and style of home at Daybreak then you get to the fun part of choosing flooring, paint colors, bathroom tile and kitchen backsplashes. They have one wall of a dozen kitchen faucets in a variety of colors and finishes. Sadly, only two of the choices are available now, and the others might not arrive for 6-12 months.
Looking for a washer/dryer or refrigerator? Be prepared to wait up to a year for the model you want, as there are fewer options and no deals to be had. You really need to hunt around. If the big box store doesn’t have your make and model, check for smaller, local appliance stores. The more bells and whistles an appliance has, the more chips are needed. Chips are in short supply for everything! Consider scratched or used model appliances, but make sure the warranty passes on to you. When you buy a home, you might be able to negotiate for the seller to buy you a home warranty on the appliances in the home for a year. When something busts you call the 1-800 number, and they send you a repair person who will fix your issue or get you a new item. Small note: if the washer is from the 1960’s the warranty company might only give you a few hundred bucks for a replacement-but it’s still better than getting nothing for a repair. If the seller doesn’t want to buy you a warrant you can always buy one yourself. Home warranty companies are numerous.
Wisdom with appliances-if you must forgo getting new ones, take care of the ones you’ve got. Clean dryer vents, dishwasher filters and refrigerator coils a few times each year. Then when the supply chain gets better links and the ports start operating normally, you can go out shopping for your dream freezer or top loader washer.