Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Open Space Disposal – A Follow-up

On December 4th 2018, the city council voted 3 to 2 to deny a petition to purchase trails and land from the city in the Wimbleton subdivision. Since I cast the tie breaking vote I would like to summarize the reasons for my no vote

The meeting also included an action item covering establishing the fair market value of orphan parcels of land the city owns. Councilman Kurt Ostler has been doing research this year on the matter as he has not felt that the $1.40/sq.ft. established by the council in 2014 represents fair market value for orphan property. The city is obligated by state statute to obtain fair market value for any property it surpluses.

Kurt looked at 3 different methods for determining fair market value.

  • Person to person sales of small parcels within Highland: 3 parcels priced at $1.85/sq.ft.(2004), $1.60/sq.ft.(2013), and $2.73/sq.ft. (2015)
  • 2018 Utah County assessed value of several orphan parcels previously sold by Highland City to residents in Beacon Hills and Canterbury Circle: $2.76/sq. ft., $2.78/sq.ft., $2.76/sq. ft., $2.72/sq. ft.$2.78/sq. ft. and $2.75/sq. ft.
  • An update to a 2014 appraisal by Denbow appraising for orphan parcels in Beacon Hills and Canterbury Circle. The 2014 appraisal was $1.00/sq. ft. The Dec 2018 appraisal was $3.00/sq. ft. Note, Denbow Appraising was the firm that the petitioners had intended to use to do the appraisal if an update was going to be required. According to Susan Denbow, the appraiser, orphan lots are currently valued at 25% to 30% of current lot values.

Councilman Ostler moved that the council approve a FMV (fair market value) for orphan parcel of 25% of the county appraised price of adjacent regular lots, to be adjusted November 1st of each year, with the caveat that if petitioners for the purchase of land believe extenuating circumstances exist they could provide documentation of such (including appraisal) to the council for its consideration.

The motion passed 4 to 1 after about 2 hours of discussion which included resident comments.

There were criticisms of the council for considering the prior to voting on the disposal of land in the Wimbleton subdivision and I can understand why those. However, given that a formal appraisal had been received and  the council had prior access to the other information provided by Councilman Ostler that indicated the pricing under consideration was considerably undervalued in my view it would have been irresponsible not to discuss this prior to selling land.

Relative to disposing of Open Space land and trails here are the reasons for my no vote. They are not in any particular order of priority and any of  them were serious enough to for me to consider a no vote:

  1. Price of the land was below fair market value based on county appraisal data and a certified appraiser.
  2. I have long opposed the city providing 0% interest loans to buyers of city property. In this case 2 to 4 year 0% interest loans were part of the motion being voted on.
  3. 100% of the proceeds from the sale being required to be used on Open Space improvements in Wimbleton rather than any Open Space park or trail.
  4. One parcel being sold had a sewer main running through it and provided access to 3 sewer manholes.
  5. Selling land surrounding 2 detention basins. The property owner could then fence the property surrounding the basins which could create long-term issues.
  6. One of the trails being disposed of appears to be well used and is used by students walking to and from Freedom Elementary School.

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!


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 same 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.

I was doing research for a friend who wanted to add solar to his business. As part of my research I met with 12 vendors (I found 54 in Utah) a number of times between 2015 and 2016.  Here’s what I learned that may help if you are interested  in solar.

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.

For the comparison charts I looked only at cities with a population of 10,000 or more cities (about 3,450). Based on violent crimes our national ranking in terms of safety ranged from 29th to 340th; for property crimes our range was 148th to 471st. Our 10-year trend is down across the board. This is a bit counter intuitive as some assume if population and density increases crime rate rises. Note, our population (Highland + Alpine) grew from 23,795 in 2008 to 29,328 in 2017 (23%).

Cost of Crime Tables

Thanks to everyone who help make Highland a wonderful and safe place to live. This includes our residents, schools and teachers, city staff and public safety officers, plus the local businesses who provide us with valued services.


Cost of Crime

Crime Data


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.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Thoughts from a Highland Resident on Priorities

2018-05-28 Ghana Happy 1

I regularly receive emails from residents who ask questions or want to voice their views on an issue. I recently read one from a resident whose counsel I would like to share.

Dear Mayor

… It is appropriate that we all treat each other with civility and that we refrain from name-calling (which both sides of a disagreement are unfortunately prone to do) regardless of how irritated we might get with each other's viewpoints and comments.

Families make plans based on their expectations that those who govern their environment will make decisions in the best interest of their family's health, including protecting them from air pollution, poor water quality, crime, public indecency, … .

Monday, May 7, 2018

Notes from the Mayor: Patterson Property/Longhorn Field aka The Groves at Highland

2018-04 Groves Birds Eye View

This Tuesday night the city council and planning commission will be holding a joint work session to review the development plan for the Patterson property which is being named The Groves at Highland. The purpose of the session is to gather information. This is an open meeting which will be held in the city council room. Work session agendas do not include a period of time for public comment. Once the project has been presented and the council and planning commission has finished asking questions I will invite residents to ask questions if there are any they felt haven’t been asked which would provide additional insights.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Notes from the Mayor: Public Safety Cost Allocation and Lone Peak Fire Service Call History Information

2018-04-16 Fire

As we look at how best to fund the needs of the Lone Peak Public Safety District I have been doing some homework in two different areas. The first is allocating costs between Alpine, Cedar Hills, and Highland. We presently have a somewhat complicated formula that includes a fixed percent allocation of the budget (10%) to each city and then splitting the remaining costs based on population and ERU’s (Equivalent Residential Unit: non-residential buildings are given 1 ERU per 10,000 sq. ft., homes and accessory apartment are given 1 ERU).

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Notes from the Mayor: Average lot sizes, Open Space compared to Non-Open Space

2018-03-29 Parcel Map

I have been working on enhancing and refining the lot size data information I received from our pressurized irrigation billing system for the past several months. I’ve learned some things which run counter to “common knowledge.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Notes from the Mayor: Caucus Information and Selecting Delegates


Selecting Delegates

Caucuses are held every two years. At  these meetings you will be electing precinct officers (chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer) as well as county and state delegates. County delegates are expected to attend county party conventions where they help select party nominees for county offices, state representatives and state senators (unless the district boundary crosses county lines). In Highland we will be selecting candidates for State House District 27 and 56, County Commission seats A & B, County Sheriff, County Clerk, and County Attorney. State delegates are expected to attend state party conventions where they vote on party nominees for state offices. This year that includes candidates for the US House of Representatives and one of our US Senate seats.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

William George Jordan: The Power of Personal Influence

The Power of Personal Influence

William George Jordan, The Majesty of Calmness, 1900

Family Sunshine

Zannie [my wife] spends lots of time with grandkids creating magical moments

THE only responsibility that a man cannot evade in this life is the one he thinks of least,―his personal influence. Man's conscious influence, when he is on dress-parade, when he is posing to impress those around him,―is woefully small. But his unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality, the effect of his words and acts, the trifles he never considers,―is tremendous. Every moment of life he is changing to a degree the life of the whole world. Every man has an atmosphere which is affecting every other. So silent and unconsciously is this influence working, that man may forget that it exists.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Notes from the Mayor: East-West Connector, Development South of Lone Peak HS, Highland Fling

PrintThe Highland Fling will be held July 28th through August 4th this year. Our theme is “We Rise by Lifting Others.” We expect this to be another great fling. However, in order for this to be the case your help is needed. We  need volunteers to help with:

1. the Parade
2. Vendors
3. Stage entertainment
4. Baby Contest
5. Garbage Management (this has been used in the past an Eagle Project)
6. Graphic Design
7. Photography/Videography
8. Other events

Please contact Julie Tapusoa at Julie@highlandcity.org or 801-772-4507 to help make this year’s fling one of our best. You can make a difference!

HJR 7: East-West Connector passed the house (70 to 0 with 5 abstentions) and will be voted on in the Senate shortly. Below is a summary of the resolution:

Monday, February 19, 2018

Notes from the Mayor: Roads, Dev Center Legislation, Sewer Rehab Video

Road WorkAt the last council meeting we approved $1.5M worth road projects for the 2018 calendar year. Click here to see a detailed list of the projects and associated costs. Among the projects is rehabilitating 6000 W from 105550 N to 11800 N at a cost of $615K. Two of the originally planned projects were pushed out. One was delayed because a development was approved adjacent to the road which will put a lot of heavy equipment on the road. The other was pushed into next year because of budget limitations.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Council Meeting Etiquette


At the council meeting on January 9th, 2018 I proposed a set of rules for us to follow during our meetings. The council was very supportive of my thoughts. The underlying objectives of these rules are to:

  1. Have our residents feel welcome and free to participate in the meeting regardless of which side of an issue they are on. Often those with a minority opinion are reticent to speak out for a variety of issues. We want everyone to be able to share their thoughts.
  2. Encourage civil debate between the council

Here are the rules I covered: