Thursday, December 31, 2015

City Council 01-Dec-2015: Family Cemeteries, Blackstone, and Murdoch Connector

Jessie SchoenfeldI was out of town for this meeting. I would normally have participated via phone but in this case I elected not to do so. I knew there would be a lot of discussion on two items (cemeteries and Blackstone) and thought that it would be best if those voting were full participants. I have participated twice via phone but found it difficult to provide input to discussions over the phone. This was Jessie Schoenfeld’s last council meeting. She has been an great asset to the city and has made many positive contributions to the city, especially in serving on the beautification, economic development and Highland Fling committees. She is a get it done person who puts in the time to make things happen. We often shared treats during long council meetings to prolong our tipping point. I will miss serving with you.

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES

Little Compromises for Happiness by William George Jordan

This is a chapter from William George Jordan’s book Little Problems of Married Life. A book he wrote in 1910 at the age of 46. He did not marry until 1922. His insights on marriage are perhaps a function of having a close relationship to his family and being someone who truly cared about others. Once again his words demonstrate a keen insight to human nature.

Little Compromises for Happiness

compromise marriageThis life of ours is a constant series of compromises, of concessions, of surrenders of what we hold dearest, and acceptances of what seems second best. That for which we have nobly struggled may fail us and we find what consolation we can among the wreckage of our hope. We make sacrifices of our desires on the altar of expediency; we pocket our pride in the interest of our purse; we smile over present loss in the hope of possible future gain. We travel along the line of ambition by slow freight when we had fondly dreamed of whizzing through on the “limited.” We surrender at the Waterloo of a hope and bravely look to regaining at the next battle. We bow to custom while we inwardly rebel at the obeisance. We play at battledore (a game, from which badminton was developed) between fear of the world on the one hand and approval of conscience on the other.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Hire JJ? Notes from a conversation with gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson.

Johnson Jonathan Green Tie Aug 2014

I recently had a one hour conversation with Jonathan Johnson who is running against Governor Gary Herbert to be the 2016 Republican nominee for Governor. I was invited to ask him anything regarding his run for office. Before I get into details I want to note that I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. He was gracious, candid, and very likeable. I enjoyed getting to know him. As I thought about what I would ask him I reviewed two posts I’ve written on selecting candidates for office: “Questions for Candidates that Won't be Asked in a Debate” and “Selecting Candidates for Political Office.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

City Council 17-Nov-2015: Family Cemeteries, Park Bond Refinance, Final Election Result Certification

Scout in front of flagWe had over 40 scouts from various units plus 12 interested residents attend the meeting. We had healthy discussions about most items but concluded with unanimous votes on the final outcomes. The next council meeting (Dec 1)should be interesting. We will make a final decision on whether or not to allow family cemeteries on private land. This issue was discussed in an article in the Provo Herald and in two news segments on ABC4 (this was the top news story – it must have been as slow news day) and Fox13. Since then the city has had some calls from residents on this issue. The responses have been split. My experience has been an initial negative response but after talking about it a little most people say yes, I wouldn’t do it, but if someone else wants to I don’t really care.

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ponderize: “Nearer My God to Thee”

Christ and sorrowed young women

I attended a funeral this weekend of a wonderful young employee of Highland City who passed away far too young (Jill Ballamis). The opening hymn was Nearer My God to Thee. As we sang I was struck by the lyrics

E'en though it be a cross
That raiseth me.
Still all my song shall be

Perhaps it was the nature of the event but I had never considered these words as I sang this hymn or their irony – if we want to be lifted up and nearer to God it often means we need to endure hard things such as being raised up on a cross. When teaching the 5,000 he fed with with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Christ said:

… to them all, If any man will come after me,let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?—Luke 9:23-25

As I get older I’ve discovered that those I admire, those who are incredibly giving, kind, and humble, invariably have experienced trials that could have caused them to be bitter and withdrawn. However, they dealt with them in a way that lifted them to a higher plain and brought them nearer to God.

Below is one of my favorite renditions of Nearer My God to Thee by Vocal Point

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

City Council 20-Oct-2015: Town Center Work Session, Dry Creek Trail, Private Cemeteries

2015-10-06-Toscana_thumb6We held our 3rd meeting regarding Town Center Zoning. Our conclusion was that the simplest approach we to rezone the property for non-residential use only and that is what we asked staff to work on for discussion at a future council meeting. It is sad for me that we have had no resident input at these meeting. I imagine that the same drop in interest occurred after Toscana was approved. Yet that was the time to relook at zoning — not after a developer (e.g. Handcrafted Homes and the Blackstone project) filed for a conditional use permit.

Council Meeting

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Curious about the 2015 Election in Highland?

Your Vote CountsThere were no local burning issues and no mayoral contest but there was a county sales tax increase on the ballot. We had a 20.1% voter turnout this municipal election as opposed to 2013 when we had a 32.8% turnout. That means that each voter who turned out represented not only themselves but four other Highland voters. Historically, municipal elections with mayoral races draw a bigger turnout than city council only ones. Also,  there is a long term decline in voter turnout in Utah and across the nation. Below is a charts the shows the long term trend for congressional and presidential elections in Utah.

1962-2014 Utah Congressional Election Turnout 1960-2012 Utah Presidental Election Turnout

Monday, November 2, 2015

Selecting Candidates for Political Office

Mr Bean - Confused_thumb[5]

I occasionally feel like Mr. Bean looks when it comes to deciding whose box to check on the ballot. Let me share some thoughts on what I believe is important based on having served nearly two years on the Highland City council.

Elections are about selecting candidates for office who have both good character and sound judgment. It is less about how a particular candidate stands on a specific issue. When I ran there were a couple of things I was concerned about:

  • How we were managing road maintenance.
  • How the city communicated with residents (both listening and sharing).

Since I’ve been elected I’ve spent time on both issues and we have made progress. However, those issues have not consumed the bulk of my time in council chambers.  I could not have predicted the range of issues which arose nor the degree of passion that residents had about them. I’ve responded to hundreds of emails and the council has listened to numerous residents who were passionate about issues such as:

  • Whether or not to revise a zone to allow a two story office building.
  • Whether or not to allow a developer to put in a open fence rather than a masonry wall.
  • Where to locate, or rather not locate, a new park maintenance building.
  • What zoning to apply to annexed property.
  • How to resolve issues related to trails that were constructed outside easement boundaries.
  • What to do about a dangerous intersection.
  • The selling price of Open Space parcels.
  • Whether to issue a conditional use permit for town homes.

It seems every couple of months a new issue arises that generates significant interest from some group.


When we elect someone to office we really need to understand their thought process. For me it is less important whether I agree with the position a candidate has on specific issue than I understand how the candidate arrived there. Other issues will come up and if I want to influence the actions of an elected official I need to understand:

  • What principles will be used in making decisions? If I agree with the principles used then I don’t care so much whether we agree on a specific issue.
  • How much time is she willing to spend on research? I want people in office who are willing to take the time to become informed on critical issues. No one is an expert on everything.
  • Is the candidate willing to listen? What modes of communication can I use to reach him (in person, email, phone, texting, Facebook …)? I don’t expect people to agree with me 100% of the time (I might want that) but I do expect elected officials to be willing to listen. Note, while it may sound nice for candidates to say I will support the will of my constituents, I am not sure how elected officials determine what the “will” is. We can’t talk to everyone. Polls aren’t perfect. Everyone doesn’t have the same level of expertise on specific issues. Experts don’t always agree anyway. Constituents disagree, sometimes vehemently, on issues.
  • Is the candidate willing to advocate for positions which may not be popular? I might not agree someone initially but this does not mean I can’t be persuaded. In the process of advocating for a cause our positions are either strengthened or weakened as we learn new information. It is the process of advocating for a cause that results in learning. Of course bi-directional learning only occurs when we stay focused on the issue at hand and not a position, are willing to listen and don’t take personal shots or act condescending.

It is also important to understand that there are some matters that come before elected officials where they are legally constrained in their actions regardless of what they might want to do. It is important for those who hold elected office to understand what level of discretion they have, as misusing their authority can create significant liabilities.

With this in mind let me handicap the current candidates for Highland City council. To start with let me say that I believe all candidates are men of good character, which gets them past my first gate (see my earlier post entitled Questions for Candidates).

Mr Bean - there you go_thumb[2]

Brian Braithwaite: Brian takes the time to become informed on issues. He comes to council meeting prepared and makes an effort to reach out to constituents. What many don’t know is that Brian initiated the employee policy change that eliminated the unlimited accrual of vacation hours. It is easy to disagree with Brian without the conversation becoming disagreeable. He tries to take the long view on issues (i.e. how will this impact the community in 10 – 20 years).

Tim Irwin: Tim is a good listener. He advocates for limited government and when looking at budget requests frequently asks the requestor is this an item for which you would be willing to take money from your neighbor by force. Good question. Although he is willing to advocate for a position, when it becomes clear that he does not have the votes he will move on so that other issues may be tackled. Like Brian, we can disagree and maintain our friendship.

I think both Brian and Tim I. have served the city well and I would love to continue working with them. They both have my support.

Tim Heyrend: Tim brings to the table experience in civil engineering. Specifically city infrastructure (sewer, water, roads). He currently works for West Jordan and has an understanding of city government. Tim is very transparent and does not hesitate to let you know his views. He is passionate about finding ways to reduce the cost to the of maintaining our roads. I’ve encouraged him to run because I think his informed perspective on this would add value to the city. While I don’t won’t always agree with Tim I do like that I know where he stands and why – I really like that. As I stated earlier knowing why someone holds a position provides others opportunity to attempt to persuade. Who knows in the course of a discussion I might even change my mind Smile.

Ed Dennis: Ed is a CPA and has audited cities. He understands the nature of government financing which can be a bit tricky. Ed consistently looks for ways to more effectively manage the city’s financial assets in order to reduce the cost of government. He has taken the time to be involved in resolving issues in Open Space developments and is clearly passionate about this. Like everyone else, Ed and I don’t see eye to eye on all issues but he has always been respectful in person.

Please take the time to vote tomorrow. You’ll feel better and be more invested in helping to keep Highland a wonderful place to live. Note, it is OK to vote for less than three candidates.

Related posts:

Ponderize: “… we are the children of God”

I have been “ponderizing” the following scripture for two weeks. I believe one could write and entire book on the topics it touches.

“16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."—
Romans 8:16-17

But for the moment let’s focus on the “simple” thought that we are all children of God. As a parent I have come to understand what it means to love without condition. I love all of my children. At times I am happier for one, more concerned about another, or proud of an accomplishment yet my love for them is not differentiated based on their worldly success. I feel compassion when they have challenges even when their actions contributed to the problem because I know them. My love is for them strengthened when I see them serving each other, their children, and performing unselfish acts for others. I would do almost anything to help them in times of need regardless of any frustration I feel.

2002 Fallbrook - cropped

Now, do I get frustrated with them? Yes. Am I perfect. Good heavens, NO. But I do believe being a parent helps give us a glimpse of how God feels about us as we consider our feelings for our children.

He loves us without condition. He is happy when we succeed. He is pleased when we serve others and cares little for our material success other than to the extent we use it to help others and it reflects our personal development.

I guess it is stating the obvious to say that we need to be more like Him in all aspects of our life.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Meet the Candidates Event – 22-Oct-2015: Video links and brief summary

2015-10-22 Issues and Information

We had an excellent turnout. Well over 60 people showed up to listen to the candidates talk about why they were running and respond to questions. I thought all candidates did an excellent job communicating their message and I thought the residents asked excellent questions. Examples include:

  • You say you want to encourage additional business to come to Highland. What specifically would you do?
  • Do you have a position on Sunday closing?
  • Why was nothing done to revise the town center development code after Toscana was built?
  • Why aren’t the bad roads being repaired?
  • How much debt does the city have?
  • Where do you stand on Prop 1 (county 1/4% sales tax increase for transportation)?

Scott Hart recorded this event (applause please).  Here is what I like about each of the candidates along links to their videos:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Is Utah County Prop 1 Good or Bad for Highland?

On November 3rd the final votes will be cast on Utah County Proposition 1 which reads:


"Shall Utah County, Utah, be allowed to impose a quarter-of-one-percent (0.25% or the equivalent of 1 cent for every $4 spent) sales use tax for the specific purpose of transportation improvements such as roads, trails, sidewalks, maintenance, bus and rail service, and traffic and pedestrian safety features, with the revenue divided among the county, cities and towns, and the public transit provider within the County."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

City Council 6-Oct-2015: Open Space Prop Sale, Mass Notification System, Town Center Work Session

After our last couple of meeting that had very full agendas and went late it was nice to have a limited agenda meeting that ended before 9 pm.

2015-10-06 ToscanaWe did hold a short work session (less than 1 hour) prior to the council meeting to discuss potential town center changes. The discussion basically centered on presenting a summary of our discussion from last time and then outlining possible directions for moving forward on Town Center Zoning (click here to see the presentation). The initial conclusion from the 1st meeting is that:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ponderize: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom … and abundance of idleness …”

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Ezekiel: 16:49

The prophet Ezekiel in urging Israel to repent compares the sins of Sodom to those of Jerusalem. As I read this, the phrase which popped out for me was “abundance of idleness.” Benjamin Franklin discussed this topic in Poor Richard’s Alamanac, 1758.

Benjamin Franklin“… I will tell thee My Friend, what Poor Richard says, Employ thy Time well if thou meanest to gain Leisure; and, since thou art not sure of a Minute, throw not away an Hour. Leisure is Time for doing something useful; this Leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never; so that, as Poor Richard says, a Life of Leisure and a Life of Laziness are two Things. Do you imagine that Sloth will afford you more Comfort than Labour? No, for as Poor Richard says, Trouble springs from Idleness,and grievous Toil from needless Ease.”

When I consider the time I spend in idle pursuits I certainly have room to improve. As I considered Ezekiel’s call to repentance this week I made an extra effort to spend time on activities that benefit others rather than my own entertainment. As the week closes I can truthfully say I feel spiritually richer.

Just a quick note, I certainly don’t feel that having plenty (a fulness of bread) is bad. It is, however, when it leads to pride and idleness. If we don’t change voluntarily we’ll be encouraged to change by the negative impacts these traits have on society and our economic well being over the long term. We only have to read history to see this.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Worry, the Great American Disease by William George Jordan

Worry 1

There is much in the world to be concerned about. However, worry can paralyze us. We’ve all been there. The weight of the world is on our shoulders and there are so many problems that we just can’t seem to get started on anything. Jordan’s short treatise on “Worry” doesn’t necessarily tell us anything we don’t know but can strengthen our resolve to find peace and take action. I hope you enjoy this. It is a chapter from his book The Kingship of Self-Control. Links to downloadable versions of this book and Jordan’s others can be found in my post Books by William George Jordan.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ponderize: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?”

Ascension-of-Jesus - cropped

At the concluding session of General Conference today Elder Devin Durrant invited us to “ponderize” a scripture on a weekly basis. By “ponderize” he meant to select a scripture each week, place a copy of it somewhere where you can see it and then think about it several times each day. In doing so “words and phrases will be written on your hearts … and mind.”

Suzanne and I agreed to take up the challenge. I was immediately drawn to these verses in Acts (Act 1:10-11) as my first scripture, but resisted as it was not immediately apparent why:

10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

As I wondered why, the phrase “why stand ye gazing up into heaven” kept running through my mind. It occurred to me that the apostles were being asked why are you just standing here when you should be doing what Christ asked. That same sentiment could be applied to me this day. Why are you not doing something? You have been given wise counsel and direction. Act on it! How often have I attended a meeting, listened to a talk, or read a scripture where I felt inspired and then basked in the glow of the moment? However, later as life caught up with me, the thoughts were simply place on a stack of to do’s and never acted on. I’d rather not tall about that.

So here is my plan. I will for the next 6 months “ponderize” a scripture by selecting one each Sunday, posting it in the “Ponderize” section I put on my blog. Then during the week I will write a short post on this scripture with any insights I get that are generally applicable.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Issues and Information: Meet the Candidates 10-Sep-2015

2015-09-10 Issues and Information

On September 10, 2015 we held a Meet the Candidates event in the multi-purpose room of city hall. Each candidate met with the audience separately for about 25 minutes each. Audience members made each mini-meeting a totally difference experience by the questions they asked. Audience members all agreed it was a very informative evening.

Below is a quick poll to get your sense of what the key issues are that candidates need to address.

What is the most important issue/question that Highland City Council candidates need to address during the campaign.
Road Maintenance
Zoning and land use planning
Increasing city revenue
Park and trail maintenance
Why the candidate is running
Please Specify:
Poll Maker
Add your own answer by selecting "Other" and then typing in your response. You can see what others have added by looking at the results first.

I will give a brief description of each meeting but you really had to be there to benefit from it. On that note, we are holding one more of these on Thursday October 22nd at 7 PM in the city council room at city hall (5400 Town Center W, Highland, UT 84003).

Friday, September 18, 2015

City Council 15-Sep-2015: Blackstone, Dry Creek Track, Highland Blvd and 11800 N Intersection

2015-09-01 Blackstone Architectural Rendering

This meeting and the lead up to it provided me with a lot of food for thought. It was well attended ~90. The Blackstone town home project and the Highland Blvd / 11800 N intersection were the key issues which brought interested residents to the meeting. Interestingly enough, this is the first time I can remember that Toscana residents have added their voice to the discussion. Below are some of my thoughts on this issue.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

City Council 1-Sep-2015: Public Works Heroes, Blackstone, Highland Oaks, Highland Blvd-11800 N Intersection

2015-09-01 PW Employee AwardsThe council chambers were full again (~100 residents). The Blackstone and Highland Oaks project brought the most attendees. A few very dedicated residents stayed until after midnight to hear the Operational Safety Report regarding the Highland Blvd / 11800 N intersection. The meeting adjourned around 1 AM. What  I was impressed with is that despite the duration of the meeting, the emotions around some of the issues, and the opposing viewpoints held by council members and residents, by and large we were all able to disagree without being disagreeable.

Monday, August 31, 2015

City Council 25-Aug-2015: Town Center Overlay Changes Workshop

The council and planning commission met together for the first of several workshops to discuss what, if any, changes should be made to the Town Center overlay zone. The mayor, 4 members of the city council and 8 members of the planning commission were in attendance. One resident, Devirl Barfuss, attended the meeting.

The 1 hour meeting was facilitated by a well regarded city planning consultant. He asked a series of 5 questions. We were given colored post-it notes to write our responses to each question (in some cases we could only provide one response, in others two or three). The responses were put on the wall and organized into general themes. I thought it was an interesting exercise and the results will provide a foundation for future meetings.

Below are the questions that we asked and as many responses that were given as I can recall. Please feel free to share your thoughts by responding to the poll questions and/or by using the comment section (e.g. if you selected other and want to share what that was).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

City Council 04-Aug-2015: Town Center Moratorium

2015-07-21 Town Center MapThe council chambers were full again (~55 residents). Many attended the meeting to see how the vote on the Town Center Moratorium ended up.

Soap box alert: I would like to share a personal frustration regarding much of the recent discussion regarding the town center. Now that another town home development is being considered (Blackstone)  I have consistently heard how terrible the Toscana town homes are for the city. The specific complaints include; the internal streets are too narrow and seem confining, parking, and people who walk their dogs and do clean up after them. Other than the narrow internal streets (which I’m not sure how the visual issue impacts anyone other than those living in Toscana) the other issues can be found all over town. Parking is a problem near churches, parks, when neighbors have receptions, homecomings … . Owners not cleaning up after their pets is a problem everywhere. Just ask my neighbors. I’m sure my dogs have left deposits in the neighborhood when they’ve escaped.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

City Council 21-Jul-2015: Blackstone townhome project, Dry Creek Phase 3 trail, maintenance of parks …

The council chambers were full, primarily with residents opposed to the Blackstone project. The discussion was very civil and respectful across the board. THANK YOU! A couple of scout groups were also present. Please note, because of the intense public interest in the Blackstone project my summary of this item (#5) is quite lengthy and includes lots of references. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Questions for Candidates that Won't be Asked in a Debate

The 2016 presidential election race has already begun and the 2015 municipal election season is fast approaching in my neighborhood. I have 3 sets of 5 questions I seek answers to when looking at candidates. These are not likely ones that will come up in a debate so I have to dig a little to answer them.

A Question of Character

Saturday, July 4, 2015

America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful

Last Sunday as we sang America the Beautiful at church my heart was pierced by the lyrics and tears began to roll down my cheeks. The words “God shed His grace on thee” led me to think of all the times in history that His hand rested upon our nation from its founding until today. Below are a couple of examples.

There are however times when it seems He has left us. Of course the reality is that we have left him. The following is a preface from an earlier post on Columbus, Providence and the Discovery of America where I shared my thoughts on this subject:

Saturday, June 20, 2015

City Council 16-Jun-2015: Certified Tax Rate, 2015-16 Budget, Vacation Accrual & Park Building

The council meeting was attended by 9 residents initially and then as the meeting progressed the initial attendees left and members of staff (14+) came to listen to the vacation accrual discussion. While we did not finish the meeting until midnight this was a good meeting with lots of healthy discussion on multiple important issues.

You will notice several references to the city council agenda in this report. The link is to my marked up version of the council agenda which I thought some might find interesting. By way of background staff uses a Dropbox account to share agendas and other documents with council members. I review these prior to council meetings, make electronic notes and save a version of the document to the Dropbox folder with a “- Rod” added to the filename. My notes include my thoughts questions and I have on issues we’ll be voting on, corrections to minutes, typing errors  … . I think it is better for everyone when staff comes to council meetings aware of what the potential questions will be and other council members understand where I’m at on issues.

Monday, June 15, 2015

City Council 2-Jun-2015: Park Maintenance Building, Highland Blvd and 11800 N Intersection

Highland Logo120+ residents attended the council meeting the majority were there to indicate opposition to the proposed Park Maintenance building located in Town Center South East of the police station. Many of the rest were there to ask for something to be done at the intersection of Highland Blvd and 11800 N where a recent fatal accident occurred. The accident was a result of a driver pulling out from 11800 N to turn left (south) onto Highland Blvd. Unfortunately, the driver pulled out right in front of a north bound vehicle on Highland Blvd which struck the turning vehicle.

2015-06-02 Highland Blvd 11800N

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tips on Influencing Local Government

Word on keyboard

No individual is so insignificant as to be without influence. The changes in our varying moods are all recorded in the delicate barometers of the lives of others. We should ever let our influence filter through human love and sympathy. We should not be merely an influence,―we should be an inspiration. By our very presence we should be a tower of strength to the hungering human souls around us.”—William George Jordan, The Majesty of Calmness, 1900

As a resident of Highland I’ve tried, both successfully and unsuccessfully, to influence the outcome of council decisions and now as a councilman I’ve done the same from a different vantage point. Below are my thoughts on how to effectively influence decisions:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

City Council 19 May 2015: Tentative Budget–Library, Pageants, and Parks

Highland Playground15 residents attended the council meeting (half were scouts :) which was a bit disappointing since we were discussing the budget. The meeting was productive and I particularly enjoyed how the council was able to disagree without being disagreeable when discussing the budget.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

City Council 5-May-2015: Dry Creek Trail, Budget Notes

16 residents attended the council meeting.

Note, I’ve updated the online budget data to reflect the most recent input from the finance director. Council members are still sharing ideas on budget changes that will put more money into roads and more appropriately allocate costs. A recent suggestion, which has not been formally discussed in council meeting, is to allocate the following in the library budget:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

City Council 21-Apr-2015: Impact Fee Study Report

We received an updated 2015-2016 budget which included current YTD data for 2014-2015. I’ve updated the online budget data to reflect the data. Council members are still sharing ideas on budget changes that will put more money into roads and more appropriately allocate costs.

2015-05-06 General Fund Expenses


  1. Public Comment:

    • One resident commented regarding a letter which had been sent to council by several Dry Creek home owners regarding the trail issue and their desire to have it resolved. Below is a copy of the letter and a picture of the trail under discussion.

      2015-02-10 Bull River-Dry Creek Trail

      Re: Dry Creek Highlands phases 1-3 trail

      Dear Mayor and City Council:

      We want to thank you for your time and bringing this long overdue matter to anticipated resolution in the upcoming City Council  meeting on April 21, 2015. A solution to this improperly built trail has stagnated in the hands of Highland City for more than 9 years. We recognize the current city administration was not responsible for those decisions but, commend you for resolving the problem.
      The signatories of this letter are residents of Highland and landowners who are directly burdened by the existing trail. Many of us have met numerous times with the city officials, employees and representatives over the past 9 years seeking rectification of the design and installation errors. Some of us have significant and costly damages to our property due to the problematic trail and corresponding easement.

      During the January 13, 2015 public discussion on the trails, the following items were discussed:

      1. The trail was built outside of the designated easements in many places.
      2. The trail is not and cannot be properly maintained as is.
      3. The trail presents a life and safety hazard to users and there are serious questions around property owner liability.
      4. Trail design, placement, slopes and maintenance make it non ADA compliant.
      5. Feasibility of re-installing the trail in the prescribed easement is a significant financial and logistical concern to the city and residents.

      We are grateful that Mayor Thompson committed to a final resolution to the problem within 90 days. We have experienced 9 years of deferral, delays and inaction.

      There are two solutions that we view as acceptable:

      1. Commit the necessary resources to rebuild the trail as originally intended within the designated easements according to ADA specifications.
      2. Remove the asphalt trail and corresponding easements.
      We believe the past 9 years has provided ample time to study and put to rest the trail issues. The time for action is long overdue. We would regard further delay as unwarranted and a cause of further damage to residents. Furthermore, we would find any solution which redefined or re-designated the trail leaving the existing easements in place but did not rebuild the trail as originally intended as untenable.

      Highland Residents of Dry Creek Highlands Phases 1 – 3
      Those whose properties are burdened by the trail

      This item is on the agenda for the May 5 Council Meeting but I did ask a couple of questions to the resident. I agreed that the city needs to resolve the issue of the trail having been built outside of the easement and on their land. However, I didn’t understand why in addition to removing the offending trail the city would have any obligation to remove the trail easement.

Consent Items

  1. MOTION: Approval of Meeting Minutes for City Council Regular Session – March 17, 2015.Unanimously approved with no changes.
  1. RESOLUTION: Approval of the Municipal 2014 Wastewater Planning Program – Self-Assessment Report. Unanimously approved. This is an optional self assessment survey that the city can submit to the state. A series of questions are answer and points are assigned to the responses. The score can help procure state funds on future wastewater related projects. We had not previously submitted assessment


  1. MOTION: Selection of Consultant – Park Maintenance Building.

    The Council has selected a site for the future park maintenance building. The next step in the process is to prepare the documents needed for the conditional use permit and the permit and construction documents. Staff requested bids from three different engineering firms. All bids included the
    following services:

     Building Elevations
     Site Plan
     Landscape Plan
     Structural Engineering
     Mechanical and Plumbing Design
     Electrical Engineering

    The bids are as follows:

    Epic Engineering $23,700
    Forsgren Associates, Inc. $23,300
    JUB Engineers $30,329.15

    The council unanimously approved the staff recommendation of Forsgren Associates.
  2. ORDINANCE: Adopting Impact Fee Facilities Plan - Transportation, Culinary, PI, Parks, Sewer, Public Safety Fees. Unanimously approved. Zion’s Bank presented an overview of their impact fee reports (258 pages in total). The net of the report is that our fees on average will be reduced. Below is a table showing a comparison of the old fees vs. the new ones. In the sample case shown the fee has been is substantially. With other lot sizes and the fees could end up being slightly higher. The bottom line is that the cost of development in Highland has been reduced. If want more clarity please take a look at the overview presentation provided by Zion’s Bank. To read the entire report look at the April 21, 2015 Agenda pages 47-305

    Impact Fee Comparison





    Culinary Water (Southeast Area Only)*




    Pressurized Irrigation








    Sanitary Sewer (Central Area)**




    Sanitary Sewer (Southeast Area)**




    Parks and Recreation




    Public Safety




    Impact Fee example based on 1/4 acre lot





    Southeast Area*




    Central Area




    *The southeast area for culinary water only includes the property south of Lone Peak High School. The central area is the remainder of the City.

    **The southeast area for sanitary sewer includes the property south of Lone Peak High School and area around the Greens on the Highlands and Wild Rose subdivisions. The Central Area is the remainder of the City.


  • The sale of real property Pursuant to Section 52-4-205(1)(e) of the Utah State Code Annotated.

  • The character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual. Pursuant to Section 52-4-205(1)(a) of the Utah State Code Annotated.

Pending Action Items

Description Requested
by / Owner
Due Date Status

Road Capital Improvement Plan for FY 15-16 Prioritize and Communicate to Residents

City Council


Contracted with King Engineering.

HW Bldg. – PW Storage Status

City Council

April 21

In Progress

Determine Park Use For Recreation

City Council

3rd qtr. 2015

Staff to make recommendations

SR74 Median at Pebble Lane Subdivision



Waiting to hear from council.

Building use Policy and Fees

Rod Mann

3rd qtr. 2015

Gathering information


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

City Council Work Session14-Mar-2015: Budget

On April 14 we held a budget work session. One resident attended, Tim Heyrend (a member of the planning commission), and was able to add value during the meeting. We asked for his viewpoint on several occasions.

The finance director walked through the budget using power point slides he had prepared.

As we reviewed the budget we identified areas of concern (e.g. revenue projection lower than we thought or could this item be reduced). All in all I believe we came up with the about 50K in revenue and a similar amount in cost reductions.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Highland City 2015-2016 Draft Budget

Once again it is time for the council to start reviewing budget proposals for next year. We recently received an initial 2015-2016 budget draft to discuss at a council work session on April, 14th (6pm at city hall). The budget draft also included a snapshot of where we are as of the end of Feb with respect to the current budget year.

I’ve put this information online in Google in an effort to help any residents who want to contribute in the budget discussion. Please feel free to come to the work session and/or share in questions or comments. You can also email or call me with questions before or after the meeting and I’ll do my best to respond.

The online spreadsheet contains multiple sheets. Below is a description of each sheet in the draft budget:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Facing the Mistakes of Life by William George Jordan

“Facing the Mistakes of Life” is a short chapter from William George Jordan’s book The Crownship of Individuality wherein he discusses “mistakes”. He provides excellent advice on a subject with which many of us are intimately familiar. Links to downloadable versions of this book and Jordan’s others can be found in my post Books by William George Jordan.


Facing the Mistakes of Life

There are only two classes of people who never make mistakes,—they are the dead and the unborn. Mistakes are the inevitable accompaniment of the greatest gift given to man,—individual freedom of action. If he were only a pawn in the fingers of Omnipotence, with no self-moving power, man would never make a mistake, but his very immunity would degrade him to the ranks of the lower animals and the plants. An oyster never makes a mistake,—it has not the mind that would permit it to forsake an instinct.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

City Council 17-Mar-2015: Lone Peak HS Parking, Road Projects, Overnight Parking on City Parking Lots



  1. Public Comment: None


  1. Mike Kennedy[3]Representative Mike Kennedy: Mike thanked the council for being involved and invited members to come up to the capital next year during the session. He briefly discussed the session. Mentioned that he had voted against the gas tax increase, not because he opposed it, but because he received a copy of the last revision of the bill at 11:45 PM the last day of the session and he did not have time to review the changes. He also mentioned that there was no fiscal note attached and he does believe a vote should be taken on a tax increase without understanding its impact.

Monday, March 16, 2015

City Council 3-Mar-2015: Roads, Park Maintenance Building, Library Tax

51 residents attended the council meeting this week, many of them were scouts. 4 residents contributed during the public comment portion of the meeting.


  1. Public Comment:

    • Ed Dennis (Open Space Committee Chair): Thanked the council for the progress on Open Space issues and then reiterated his support for the dedicated library property tax and then read a prepared statement (I can’t find my copy I will add a link to it when I do).
    • Shawna Larsen (Arts Council Chair): Shared with the council the news that they were able to raise enough donations ($13,500) to purchase a used Kawai Grand Piano. Note, since then the Arts Council received another significant donation which allowed them to purchase a new Yamaha Grand Piano (total cost $30,000).

      2015-03-12 New Yamaho Grand Piano
    • Jackie Healey: Expressed support for the library property tax as she didn’t want the library to worry about funding each year.
    • Blythe Shupe (Library Board Chair): Reiterated her support for the library property tax and said it is only 2% of the total city budget. She also mentioned that a neighbor of hers who worked for Qualtrics (an online polling firm) said that he could help construct a poll of the residents. Blythe thought this would be done at no cost to the city.

Monday, March 2, 2015

City Council 17-Feb-2015: Republic Waste, Public Safety District Agreement, Budget Amendments

12 residents attended the council meeting this week. One stayed through the entire meeting. I did not get her name but thank you for coming and for your comments near the end of the meeting.


  1. Public Comment: None


  1. Charlie Greenland presented poster of an aerial photograph of Highland City from 1958. Abe Day, a member of the planning commission, helped put it together. It has a key that can be used to identify the homes and who lived there. About 21 of the homes remaining standing today. Copies can be ordered from Mr. Greenland.
    Phone: 801-766-6624

  2. 1958 Aeriel Photo of HIghland

City Council–Library Board Work Session 10-Feb-2015

I asked Tim Irwin, the city council representative on the the library board, to “guest host” this post and he graciously accepted. I’ve put his comments before a copy of a presentation the library board delivered at the work session.

It is quite an honor for Rod to ask me to write a report on the library work session the city council had with the library board 2 weeks ago. 

Tim IrwinIncluded in this report is the presentation by the library board president, Blythe Shupe and I feel she did a very good job explaining the progress the Highland City Library has made over the last 8 years. The library is well managed and well supervised by very dedicated volunteers appointed by the mayor. To be clear, the purpose of the work session was to find ways the council could support the library and its goals. In my view of the council, all 5 members like the library. Some residents were misled in the last election thinking that 2 candidates wanted the library to be diminished some way. That was clearly a campaign tactic that did not resonate with the voters and it was in fact a false view held by the losing candidates. In the interest of full disclosure, I serve on the library board at the request of the mayor.

What is true is that there is some disagreement within the city and the council as to how to fund the library going forward. It is interesting that the board chair chose the following quote to start off the discussion:

Monday, February 16, 2015

City Council 3-Feb-2015: Annexation, D & F Roads, Mid-Year Budget Adjustments

There were 35+ people in attendance, most were scouts. It was a good meeting for them to attend. Brian Braithwaite paused the discussion a couple to times to let them know what why we were discussing a particular item and provided background information.


  1. None

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Highland City Work Session: Dry Creek & Bull River Trail Issues

About 20 residents from the Dry Creek and Bull River neighborhoods met with council members, the mayor, and city staff to discuss issues with the Dry Creek/Bull River trail (a portion which was closed last fall).

2015-02-10 Bull River-Dry Creek Trail

Monday, February 9, 2015

New CVS Pharmacy Coming to Highland

A CVS Pharmacy is being constructed on the NW corner of Alpine Hwy and SR92. This will add a convenient service to the local community plus provide additional jobs for residents.

2015-02 CVS Elevations Only

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

City Council 20-Jan-2015 Impact Fee Work Session, Youth Council, Audit, Park Maintenance Building Location

Please note the council meeting on Feb 3 will include a discussion of updates to the 2014-2015 year budgets. I put a copy of the Dec 2014 YTD financial statement and the proposed mid-year adjustments online so that if you are interested you can look at these. Just click on the links. You can download them into your local computer if you want to play around with them using Excel or Open Office. We will be starting the next year budget process soon and reviewing these will help if you want to participate in the discussions. You can look at last years budget info here.

Impact Fee Work Session

A work session was held 1 hour before the council meeting so that staff could provide an update to the impact fee assessment. No exact figures were provided. The point of the discussion was to discuss changes in state law with respect to impact fees and the potential impact to the city’s finances.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Don’t Be That Presenter!

Boring Presentation

I’ve done hundreds of presentations during the course of my career and sat through many more. Some of mine have been well received and others, to be kind, have been less than successful. Below are a few tips to keep in mind so that you are not that presenter:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

City Council 6-Jan- 2015: Bond Refinance; Meeting Minutes


  1. Public Comment:
    No public appearances.

Consent Items

  1. MOTION: Approval of Meeting Minutes for City Council Regular Session – November 18, 2014. This was pulled and discussed at length later in the meeting. Part of the discussion centered around what are the legal requirements for minutes. Tim Merrill, city attorney quoted from Utah Code 54-4-203. Of late the meeting minutes have been very detailed (20+ pages). Tim suggested that they could be much more brief as long as they included the substance of what was discussed, proposed or voted on. Extraneous discussions need to be referenced. Shorter minutes make it easier for the public to review what transpired and would significantly reduce the length of time required to produce the minutes by staff. In the end the council unanimously agreed that future minutes should be more of a summary and that the portion of the Nov 18th minutes containing a heated discussion between the Mayor and council member Schoenfeld should be summarized. Note full audio recordings of each council meeting are available online for those who want to listen to the entire meeting at either the Utah State Public Notice website or the Highland City site.

  2. MOTION: Approval of Meeting Minutes for City Council Regular Session – December 2, 2014. Approved unanimously with minor changes

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mental Training: A Remedy for “Education” – William George Jordan, 1907


1891-07-26 Chicago Inter-Ocean IllustrationWilliam George Jordan was a strong advocate of changing the focus of education. He argues that “there is not one single power, faculty, process or quality of the mind that is trained and developed by our present system of education. Our powers are not merely untrained—they are positively mistrained.” He says that “Education believes that by forcing a certain amount of knowledge, principally by means of textbooks, into the minds of children, that somehow in the divine mystery of mental processes this knowledge will not only be retained, but the mind of the individual will be exercised, trained and developed.”

Jordan advocates for a system whose “final aim … is to teach thinking, exercising the individual not in what to think, but in how to think, making all parts of his mental machine work individually at their greatest ease, smoothness and rapidity and in finest co-operation.

In 1891 Jordan resigned from his position as managing editor of Current Literature, a prominent magazine devoted to promoting literature, to lecture on educational reform and a new model he called “mental training.” He moved from New York to Chicago and began to teach a series of 12 lectures called Mental Training: By Analysis, Law, and Analogy. Here their titles: