Friday, July 19, 2019

Highland Resolution On Protecting All Human Life

A culture obsessed with technology will come to value personal convenience above almost all else, and ours does. That has consequences we will explore. Among those consequences, however, is impatience with anything that interferes with personal convenience. Religion, morality, and law do that … .” Bork, Robert H., Slouching Towards Gomorrah, HarperCollins, 1996, pp 8-9

As Judge Bork observed, over 20 years ago, we have a culture the puts a high value on convenience. Life is not always convenient. My wife and I volunteer at the Utah State Developmental Center (USDC). Each week we have the opportunity to work with youth and adults who come their to serve those who are less physically and mentally able. Is this convenient? No. The community at large spends about 19,000 hours a year in service at the USDC. Is that convenient? No. However, as I watch the youth (and adults) who come and serve I can see eyes being opened and hearts changed. Youth and adults are more accepting of those that are different and less likely to bully others as a result of spending time with residents of the USDC. They have a renewed appreciation for their blessings and are motivated by the resident’s efforts to progress and the kindness they show each other. I cannot find a way to put a true value on that service or the influence for good that the residents have on all of us.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

2019 Highland City Survey

2019 Survey Staff

First of all I want to thank those who took the time to complete the 2019 survey, especially those that took the time to add comments. We had 1,106 respondents, 22 more than last year. 700 respondents provided a total of 1,370 comments on. I enjoyed reading them and replied to over 1,000. I literally laughed out loud for several minutes after reading one.  I will buy a Roxberry Smoothie for the first person who identifies it – city staff and elected officials are ineligible (mayor@highlandicity.org).

The top four issues in terms of comments were:

Monday, July 1, 2019

Evaluating City Council Candidates

Scales of Justice

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” -- John Quincy Adams

In Highland there are three open city council seats this year. The nine candidates that are vying for your vote are asking for the privilege to spend ten or more hours a week for four years making decisions that affect us now and years into the future.

The issues they deal with will range from approving changes in user fees for parks to budgetary expenses totaling $18M, from zoning changes to park amenities, and from road maintenance to how to deal with legal issues.

Let me offer a few thoughts on what principles can be applied in selecting candidates for city council:

  • They need to be someone whose judgement you can trust, because they will at some point vote counter to what you believe is correct. Are they able to put the interests of others over their own self-interest? If they can, you will be more apt to trust their judgement.
  • They will be making decisions on issues in areas where they are not experts. Look for someone who likes to learn, is willing to listen to multiple points of view, and is able to revise their opinion as they learn more about an issue.
  • Council members and mayors often don’t agree with each other but need to work together. Can a candidate disagree without being disagreeable? Are they able to effectively debate issues? Can they compromise when that is called for? When issues are properly vetted, which often includes vigorous discussions, better decisions are the result.
  • Residents will have strong opinions on issues and occasionally are unkind to those who don’t agree.  Showing civility in the face of incivility tends to de-escalate issues and helps take emotion out of decisions. Look for those who are gracious when others are not.
  • I’ve found that trying to do the right thing in the wrong way can generate a lot of negatively and is often worse than doing nothing. The “wrong way” usually means making big decisions in a way that is perceived to be non-transparent. Candidates that are patient and persistent will be able to move the ball forward on big issues.

Is there a perfect candidate? No. Are there candidates who are perfectly capable of doing an excellent job. Absolutely! Please take the time to get to know those who are running and support those you believe will be effective public servants over the next four years.

If you have other thoughts on selecting candidates please feel free to share them.

Links to Related Posts:

Friday, June 21, 2019

Connecting Canal Blvd and Madison Avenue

2019-06-21 Canal Blvd and Madison AveA number of residents have expressed concern that Canal Blvd will be extended to 6800 W via Madison Avenue once the Reinhart property is developed (see picture above). Below is a copy of an email I sent to the residents who emailed on this issue on Thursday June 20th. Note, I did fix spelling and grammar error that to my chagrin were in the email and made a couple of changes to improve clarity.

*** Update 6 July 2019 ***

At the end off the post I’ve listed a number of misconceptions that I’ve heard or read relative to this issue.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Traffic Count and Speed Analysis for Canal Blvd at 5700 West

2019-06 Canal Blvd and 5700

We collected traffic data and speed information on Canal Blvd from May 28th through Jun 11th 2019. Westbound data was collected at ~5730 W and eastbound data was collected at ~5670 W (see map above).

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Surprising 10-Year Highland City Budget Review

Dollar SignsSince the city is asking for a revenue increase to fund a significant jump in public safety spending I thought it would be good to share a historical overview of the city’s general fund revenue and expenses. When I included population growth and factored in inflation I was surprised at what I found.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Highland Utility Rates 2018-2019

2019-05-15 Utility Rate Comparison DetailI am occasionally asked why our utility rates are higher than those in the surrounding communities? Comparing our utility rates with neighboring cities (Alpine, American Fork, Cedar Hills, Lindon, & Pleasant Grove)  was an interesting exercise. I used the average Highland lot size and water usage to calculate what we would pay using another city’s utility rates.

The results were somewhat surprising. Even including our road fee we are still $14.17(10%) under the average total bill. Lehi was the lowest at $106.73 and American Fork was the highest at $181.87. We sit at $127.47. Note, in the comparison I did not include the Open Space fee in the “Other” category which 26.5% of Highland households pay. Nor did I include PUD/HOA fees which a number of Highland subdivisions pay.

Here are other interesting tidbits:

Friday, March 22, 2019

Traffic Count and Speed Analysis for Canal Blvd at 5800 West

2019-03-20 Canal Blvd and 5800 W

When I ran for office in 2017 I spoke with a resident who lived on Canal Blvd and had concerns about speed. I committed to asking staff to do a traffic count and speed analysis. Staff did and I provided the summary  information they gave me to the resident. Residents are again expressing concern about traffic issues and potential traffic issues on Canal Blvd with the impending expansion of Canal Blvd to the East (the East-West connector) so I thought I would share the traffic information we collected in a more useful form. Note, I’ve probably spent over 20 hours putting this information together.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Highland City: 2018 in Review

2019-02-20 progress2018 was a busy year for staff and elected officials. We made a lot of progress in multiple areas. I’ve reviewed what transpired and highlighted those items that I believe were the most impactful and/or newsworthy. I’ve organized these by general categories. The last is “Highland in the News”. We received a lot of good coverage this year from local media and were even mentioned in a USA Today article.

Communication:

  • Staff implemented a short report called the “City Council Brief.” These are published and shared on the city website and Facebook page within a few days of any council meeting. The brief contains a short descriptions of actions taken by the council and includes a link to a spreadsheet that shows all votes cast by each member of council since Jan 2018.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Highland City 2018 Road Projects Review

Road WorkDuring 2018 we executed the first year of our 7-year road rehabilitation and preservation plan. A few changes were made to the scheduled projects due to changing circumstances as shown below. Our big project for the year, 6000 W, was completed on time but ran overbudget ($200,000) when we discovered that the asphalt on the north end was 2 inches thinner than we realized and the road base adjacent to Highland Elementary School was deficient. In spite of this we finished the year $17.3K  over our $1.5M budget (1.2% ). Not bad!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Mayor Messages from 2018 Newsletters

Here are my newsletter messages for 2018. There was no mayor message in January or February newsletters.

March 2018

Get Involved

This month, I’m writing to encourage you to get involved in our wonderful community and participate in our annual Highland Fling. Our Civic Event Coordinator is looking for a number of volunteers for the committee including Parade Assistants, Parade Banner Carriers, a Vendor Chair, a Stage Entertainment Chair, a Baby Contest Chair, a Sponsor Coordinator/Assistant, a Family Adventure Race Assistant, a Play Day Rodeo Chair/Assistant, a Garbage Management Coordinator, a Graphic Designer, a Photographer, a Videographer, Swag Assemblers, Information Booth Assistant, a Kids Night – Cardboard Challenge Coordinator, and Event Assistants. Some of these are single day commitments and some require work from now until the Fling. Some would even make great Eagle Scout projects. If you could help in any of these positions, or would like to get involved in a different way, please contact Julie Tapusoa at Julie@highlandcity.org  or 801-772-4507.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

So you want to add solar to your home!

solar-sunflow


I found this 2016 post in my drafts folder for my blog. Even though some of the info is dated I thought I would publish it with the hope that some may find it useful.

It seems like once a week or so a solar sales rep knocks on our door or calls to let us know that special programs relative to solar exist and they’d like to educate us about them. All we need to do is give them our power usage information and they will arrange to have someone come to our home and let us know how we can take advantage of these programs and eliminate our power bill.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Thoughts

Gifts 2011 - Alisa sm

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. This year while writing Christmas cards I was moved as I remembered all the acts of kindness and selfless service performed by my friends for myself and others. Some of these acts will likely not be recognized directly in this life. They are the quiet gifts given to others by generous souls. They can however be life altering, both to giver and the knowing or unknowing recipient.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Why I Now Support A 0.25% County Sales Tax Increase

In 2015 the county voted down Prop 1,a 0.25% county sales tax  increase ($0.01 per $4.00 purchase) that would have split the revenue between the cities, Utah County, and UTA (40%, 20%, 40%) by a 59 to 41 percent margin. In Highland the margin was 68% to 32% (click here to see the official results). I was a vocal opponent to the increase largely because of UTA allocation. I described my opposition in a post “Is Utah County Prop 1 Good or Bad for Highland?

So why the switch in attitude Mr. Mayor? Have you gone to the dark side? Good question!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Notes from the Mayor: Open Space Disposal

I’ve been following some of the Facebook discussions relative the sale of Open Space as well as reading the emails sent to elected officials regarding this issue. One of the arguments raised for doing it now is that the “city” has had a chance to fix it and hasn’t, so time is up.

While I agree that there are issues with Open Space maintenance, I disagree with the conclusion that time is up. There are a number of issues the city has worked over the years that required a lot of time and effort to close. If we arbitrarily decided that enough time had been spent and quit then our roads wouldn’t be getting fixed and the East-West connector design would not be underway.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Highland City: 10-Year Crime Trends

2018-11-25 FBI-UCR LogoAfter writing my previous post about Highland/Alpine being ranked as two the safest cities in Utah – we share the same police force and so our numbers get reported together. I wanted to look at a trend over time instead of just one year’s worth of data. Below you will find charts and graphs that show what type of specific types crimes were committed in Highland and Alpine over a 10-year period of time (2008-2017), general trends, and how we ranked within the state and nation over that time period. All data came from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting system.

I again used two additional metrics to compare crime in general:

  • Combined Crime:  II multiplied the number of violent crimes by the national ratio of property crimes to violent crimes (~6) to equalize these two types of crime.
  • Cost of Crime: I used a report published in 2010 entitled “The Cost of Crime to Society: New Crime-Specific Estimates for Policy and Program Evaluation” to attach a value to the specific types of crime reported by the FBI. This creates a total cost of crime to a community. I put the relevant tables from the report at the end of this post.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Highland/Alpine Safest Cities in Utah

2018-11-07 Highland Sat Map

Earlier this year a number of articles were published indicating that Highland is the safest city in Utah. Lone Peak Police serves both Highland and Alpine so in truth Highland and Alpine are the two safest cities in Utah. The source data for these articles was the 2016 FBI National Crime Report. I wanted to see how Highland fared on a national level and so I downloaded the FBI data and looked at it from several points of view: Violent Crime, Property Crime, Combined Crime, and Cost of Crime.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Notes from the Mayor: 2018 City Survey

Overview2018-08-20 Heraclitus

I’ve spent several months reviewing the most recent city survey and responding to most comments. Note, residents shared their thoughts in over 1,500 comments; I reviewed all of them. Below are my thoughts on some of the most common survey comments:

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Notes from the Mayor: Tax Base, Tax Rates, …

2018-07-24 Tax-revenueAs I have worked through the 2018 city survey I’ve seen a number of comments related to our prop tax and tax base compared to other cities. I’ve done some research in that regard and want to share it with you. There some limitations when comparing cities as they all have their individual idiosyncrasies  For example, we have a $18.50 road fee which we track outside of the General Fund, Cedar Hills has a $6 EMS fee, Pleasant Grove has a $8.45 road fee … . I did not reach out to the individual cities to get their current household count but used US Census Data for all cities which is several years out of date. Also, the revenue and expense data is taken from each city’s 2018-19 budget, which are subject to change as the year progresses. So while the information is interesting it is certainly not perfect. What is does show is that Highland does have a per household sales tax base that compares favorably with our neighbors (except for AF which is significantly higher than everyone else), our property tax rate is the second lowest and our general fund spending per household is in the middle (just below average).

Thursday, June 14, 2018

LD 27 Republican 2018 Primary Candidates Responses to Questions

2018-06-06 Meet the Candidate 2

A “Meet the Candidate” evening was held on Wednesday June 6th. Each candidate was given about 45 minutes to response to questions and interact with attendees. Below are videos excerpts from each candidates segment during the event which show their responses to common questions. Thanks to Scott Hart for filming the event and then taking the time to create these side-by-side responses to questions! He created a debate without the disadvantage or advantage of candidates hearing what their opponent said and then responding to it. Personally, I really like this format. Note, the video of the entire event is provided at the end of the post.