Four residents attended this meeting where we discussed economic development, pressurized irrigation and park usage fees. Those attending wanted to share their views on the proposed park usage fees. The “final” proposal on park fees will be discussed and voted on at the next council meeting (Tuesday Feb 7).
The following charts on lots sizes in Highland was derived from PI billing data, a summary of which is also shown below. Since there are a few parcels of property in Highland that are not served by PI it is not entirely accurate but it does provide a good picture. Here a few interesting stats:
- 56% of the lots in Highland are less than or equal to 0.50 acres
- 77% of the lots in Highland are less than or equal to 0.75 acres
- 92% of the lots in Highland are less than or equal to 1.00 acres
- The average lot size in Highland is 0.6 acres while the median is 0.47 acres
Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES
- Marlin Eldred, an economic development consultant and member of Lehi City staff, addressed the council regarding economic development issues. He pointed out that in Utah County the average city spends $1.23 in services for every $1.00 it received in property tax from residential property. For open land the spend is $0.82 for every $1.00 in property tax and for commercial/industrial it is $0.26 for $1.00 is services. We don’t know if those ratios apply to Highland.
Based on his review of the city prior to the meeting he believed that Highland is 85% to 90% residential with two parcels of undeveloped commercial land left. He asked what our intentions were for the remaining undeveloped land. I pointed out that in a recent survey residents indicated that they chose to live in Highland because of the large residential lots that are prevalent.
Mr. Eldred made the comment that incentives are not necessarily needed to draw business’s but an awareness of what land is available for business in Highland is essential. Mr. Eldred said an economic development study by consultants could cost between $5,000 and $30,000, depending on what kind of output was desired.
I pointed out that our property tax rate is significantly lower than American Fork and Lehi, both of which have a much larger business base. Mr. Eldred pointed out that while this is true home values in Highland are higher (American Fork: $242K, Highland $479K, Lehi: $350K according to Zillow).
I thought Mr. Eldred had interesting information to share and at the conclusion of the discussion I concurred along with other council members that it would be worth looking into what we could get out of some additional economic development research and planning.
MOTION: Pressurized Irrigation Utility Rate Allocation. Tabled unanimously. Click here to view the background information from the minutes. We discussed the issue that while it costs more to pump water to the higher elevation areas of Highland (generally speaking think north of 11800 and View Point) this cost is paid for by all residents and therefore those which a large amount of land may be picking up a disproportionate share of that cost. After a rather long discussion it became apparent that there was no desire to change the rates again. I did propose considering a rate change that would trim the costs of larger lots (larger than 1 or 2 acres) and leave the remainder of the rates untouched but again there wasn’t interest in making any changes so I moved to table the discussion.
Ed Dennis asked if the reason we had not sold any of the excess city water shares was because we were pricing them too high. During the follow-on discussion it was noted that we can only sell these shares to Highland developments.
One item came to light that was not previously on my radar screen. Each year we rent unused water shares from Highland residents that have excess shares. We do this as an insurance policy but in the last 10(?) years haven’t needed them to cover our water needs. If the rented shares come out of the American Fork canyon it is actually cheaper to use them than to turn on our pumps for irrigation water. Deer Creek shares (Provo) are more expensive because of transmission costs. Going forward it may make sense to continue to rent the AF Canyon shares but not the Deer Creek shares.
ORDINANCE: Adoption of a Park Use Policy: Highland has not previously had a published field usage policy for all city parks nor provided a reservation system. Staff put together a proposed fee structure and set of policies which the council and citizens reviewed and commented on. The president of the Lone Peak Football League share his frustration with ever increasing taxes, fees … and a concern that by charging a fee we would end up pricing out some families for participation in sports. Michelle Hammond of Lone Peak Lacrosse also expressed concerns about pricing youth of our sports by charging a fee. We discussed the option of service in lieu of fees, revising prioritizing of use to put residents higher in the priority list, adjusting the fee schedule … . In the end we unanimously voted to continue this item to next meeting. Click here to view the background information from the minutes.
MAYOR, CITY COUNCIL & STAFF COMMUNICATION ITEMS
- Funding of the Road Reconstruction Master Plan. We decided to have Brian Braithwaite and myself meet with staff to discuss options for funding and discuss them at a future council meeting.
- Ed Dennis shared minutes from last year’s council meeting where we had agreed to allocated $20,000 for economic development. This was not reflected in the current budget.