Since 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.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
I 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 utilities 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
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
2018 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.
- 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
During 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
Here are my newsletter messages for 2018. There was no mayor message in January or February newsletters.
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
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 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
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
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
After 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
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
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
As 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
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
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.
… 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
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
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
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
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.