Monday, January 1, 2018

My Goals and Priorities as Mayor for 2018

2018 Goals

As the year begins I wanted to share with you the goals and priorities for the coming year. We will have a work session early in the year where the council will get to go through their goals and work to put them in a priority order. Below is a list I provided to council members a couple of weeks ago. Feel free to share your thoughts. Did I miss something you think is important? Am I heading somewhere you think is ill advised? … .


  1. Ensure that staff provides the council with accurate and complete information on issues under discussion. Staff has made a lot of improvements but there is always room for improvement. I've discussed a number of thoughts with Nathan, Erin, and Cindy. If you have suggestions please feel free to share.
  2. Improve resident communications. Again we've made progress the last few years in some areas. However, one of the things that did not happen over the last 4 years was updating the website. That was in part impacted by our previous administrator. We have an opportunity to move the ball forward over the next 6 to 12 months as the current hosting company is interested in us upgrading to a newer version of their hosting platform and is willing to incentivize us to do so. We had allocated money previously for this but, like I said there were some issues with the prior administrator in executing on this. 
  3. Keep improving the budget and long-term planning processes. I think this is an area where staff and council have done an excellent job. I want to be sure that we continue to think long-term and have an open budget process.


  1. East-West Connector. My priorities are, in order:
    1. Help ensure that the legislature passes a resolution which allows a road to be built that meets the needs of Highland and the surrounding communities this year. Note, it needs to function as a collector and not a residential road. MAG funding is contingent on this and it is what the community needs.
    2. Mitigate the correctly designed road's impact on adjacent residents.
    3. Note, I have interacted extensively with our state representative Mike Kennedy and state senator Dan Hemmert on this issue. They are running an independent resolution to approve the road this session. I’ve also spoken with Rep. Kay Christofferson and Senators Howard Stephenson, Jake Anderegg, and Curt Bramble. There appears to be strong support for the road across the board. Additionally, in discussions with the mayors elect of Alpine, American Fork, Cedar Hills, and Pleasant Grove and Alpine School District administration there is also considerable support. It looks like each city council and the school board will have an opportunity to support a resolution supporting the construction of a collector road.
  2. Open Space / Park Funding: The Open Space fee is an issue for some residents. I think we need to take a comprehensive view of the issue starting with the following:
    1. Review what parks and trails should be allocated to the city vs. Open Space. We have done that in part through the park classification process. However, we also need to look at trails and park strips.
    2. Determine the maintenance cost per "appropriate unit of measure" (e.g. sq. ft. acre) for trails, parks, park strips, and trails.
    3. Assign costs to city maintained and open space land based on the allocations and costs determined by taken the steps “a” and “b”.
    4. Potential issues and areas that will need to be discussed:
      1. If the Open Space costs end up being less than is currently being collected then can we improve operational efficiency enough to make up the difference? If not, how are we going to make up the revenue shortfall?
      2. If the Open Space costs end up being higher than we are currently collecting will raise the Open Space fee?
      3. Should Open Space fees be evenly distributed to all Open Space developments or should they be based on the actual maintenance costs of Open Space in different neighborhoods?
      4. Should a portion of the Open Space maintenance cost be covered by the general fund even after we have gone through an allocation process?
    5. My personal guess is that this is a 12 to 18 month process.
  3. Park Maintenance Building: With the East-West Connector road going in we will lose the temporary storage we've using for the last 2 years. I believe we have an opportunity to take another look at outsourcing some of our park maintenance activities and thereby reducing our park equipment storage needs. Here are some of my thoughts
    • We have had difficulty in hiring summer help
    • If the storage requirements are reduced could we get away with building a small storage facility at the cemetery and continuing to use the old water company building on 5600 W?
    • I believe that in the past the bids we received were not apples to apples with what we are doing today.
    • Once we build a large park maintenance building we are committing to long term building operational costs and of course we will need to continue the process of finding a location to put it which will continue to be an issue.
    • I do not know what the outcome the evaluation will be but I think it is prudent to look again before we build a large structure.
    • Our window of opportunity is the next 6 months during which time we need to continue to look for building sites.
  4. Public Safety:
    • I believe we are in pretty good shape with the police department. Chief Gwilliam is easy to work with and I don't see that they have any significant structural, personnel, or operational issues.
    • The fire department has on the other hand from my point of view structural, personnel, and operational issues. I think the best thing PSD Board and city councils can do at this point is to give the new chief some breathing room to work through these issues and then come back with recommendations for changes.
    • Additionally, we need to see what Cedar Hills is going to do with respect to fire. I have no idea how that will sort itself out but that will have an impact. Note, Cedar Hills submitted their 2-year notice earlier this year to leave the district.
    • I don't see the above issues working themselves out until the end of calendar year 2018, which will give the new chief time to work with the board and pertinent city councils in making the case for the 2019-2020 budget.
    • I believe Nathan and the new Chief are already looking at some opportunities to do more with the money that they already have. We'll have to see if those pan out. But in any case I don't see a lot of value in spending much of the council's time on issues relative to the fire department until we have a better picture from the new chief. In the end we will need info such as “if this is what you want then this is what it will cost.” 
    • Note, I will not be making any changes to the composition of the Public Safety Board in 2018.

  5. Emergency Preparedness:
    • I would like to see the PSD and the city more engaged with the community on this. The PSD has a part-time Emergency Preparedness position that is currently filled by Kevin Card, a Highland resident. I believe there should be at least one resident from each of the surrounding communities who help Kevin on a volunteer basis. In Highland's case we might even want to have a committee that helps works with Kevin. I would think a council member should participate on this one. 
    • Kevin is working to get three tractor trailers filled with emergency supplies to be relocated here (in Highland) from the SW side of Utah lake. We need to follow-up on this.
    • A group of ham radio operators and communication specialists have volunteered to help with Highland events and emergencies. Someone needs to work with them to get this going.
  6. City Ordinances
    • Staff has been reviewing ordinances. I wonder if it would be helpful if a citizen committee, a council member could be involved in this. The committee could function like the transportation review board did where on a periodic basis they received an update on progress by staff and contractors and were able to provide input to issues and priorities.
    • I agree that including a review of the penalties would appropriate. If a council member is involved that person could spend time becoming familiar with the issue by talking with the judge, our city attorney, and Nathan to get their perspectives.
  7. Boundary Adjustment Requests:
    • These have come up in the past and will again but I believe each case needs to be looked at individually and we need to make the best decision in each case.
    • In the end we do not have the final say on these requests. Any denial on our part can be appealed and my understanding is that the appeal authority (set up by the county) puts a lot of weight on the land owners preference. Highland has both given up and received land in the past.
    • I have spoken with Brad Frost, mayor-elect of American Fork a couple of times; neither he nor I are interested in a bidding war with the state regarding the land. We also both strongly feel that it is in neither city’s best interest to have the land south of the High School developed by the state to their priorities (not ours). With the state retaining ownership of the land and thus not being obligated to pay property tax we both question whether there would be a benefit rather than cost to either community. In any case neither of our have any interest in the state passing an boundary change legislation this year. There is a lot that needs to get sorted out. BTW, I like Brad a lot.

Note, I’ve have meet with the mayor’s elect of all the neighboring communities. Troy Stout (Alpine), Brad Frost (American Fork), Jenny Rees (Cedar Hills), and Mark Johnson (Lehi). I’ve enjoyed each meeting and believe it will be a pleasure working with them. I’ve also spoken on the phone with Guy Fugal, mayor-elect Pleasant Grove. The same applies to him.


  1. Overall, your comments and plans seem very reasonable. I would like have seen mention of the roads situation in Highland other than the connector road. If you do have a citizen's committee on city ordinances, I volunteer to serve.

    1. Good catch. I left out the roads because we have a funded plan and it includes an annual review but it is a good point. We need to be sure that we follow-up on our commitments in that regard.

    2. Great plan. Thank you for getting that out so quickly. I am aware that Kevin Card will be leaving for a 6 month mission in March. If you would like some help with the Emergency Plan for the three cities, I would love to help out or represent my area. I also would like to work with our schools and have a plan set up with supplies at each school. I would have to work with each school's PTA President on that one. Please let me know what you think.
      Thank you again for serving,

  2. I have lived in Highland for 32 years. I'd like to see the city go back to lower density neighborhoods. The property south of Ridgeline Elementary to Skyline Dr has been designated as high density. There will be no open space. Despite the tremendous objections from Highland citizens, the city decided to represent the out of state developer. How can this be changed?

    1. The property south of Ridgeline was designated as R-1-30 on a 3 to 2 vote. I was one of the two council members who voted no. That said R-1-30 lots average 0.60 acres whereas R-1-40 lots average 0.78 acres. The lot widths are not significantly different. According to last year's city survey most residents do not view R-1-30 as high density. I am not sure if it will be possible to reverse the zoning change. I will ask our city attorney.

    2. The final plat for the Oak Ridge Development south of Ridgeline was approved Dec 5th 2017. It would not be legal for the city to change the zoning underneath the developer. If for some reason the developer doesn't proceed and the entitlement expires then it would be possible to rezone the property (e.g. the developer walks away from the project and the property owners can't find someone else to take the project forward). If that were to happen you would need to find 3 votes on the council to change the zoning.

  3. Good report. Thanks. I have been wondering about recycling and whether there needs to be better communication to residents about exactly what IS and IS NOT recyclable and how to deposit recyclables in the can. For example, there was a short note (in one of the newsletters, I think?) about NOT bagging recyclables. That was the first I had heard of that, and I haven't seen it again since. Does this really matter? I see things in people's recycle containers all the time that I know are NOT recyclable (e.g. pizza boxes). I am willing to do it "right" and I'm sure others are, too, but it seems that it would take a pretty heavy publicity campaign to raise awareness of what "right" would be. Maybe it doesn't matter if our waste collection company is not having big issues, but I would hate for our recyclables to be unusable because of contamination or whatever.

  4. Good thought. I will share with the staff involved in producing the newsletter.

  5. Nice work Rod! I was wondering if the council would consider getting a CERT program going for Highland. This could fall under the emergency preparedness aspect too.


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