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  or 801-772-4507.

Legislative Update

Two resolutions impacting the stated owned land south of Lone Peak High School are moving through the legislature. One, HRJ 7 authorizes the Utah State Developmental Center Board to sell or lease land to build the east-west connecter. The other, SRJ 8, authorizes the board to sell or lease 143 acres south of Lone peak for development. The chart below shows the quantity and type of residential units which were planned for the land – they may change. This does not include 134,000 sq. ft. of retail that are planned on 6.2 acres, 40,000 sq. ft. of retail on 1.5 acres, and 22.4 acres of open space. If the land is leased rather than sold, the land will be exempt from property tax and development will not be subject to local ordinances. Note, this means your city and school district will need to provide services such as police, fire, classrooms and teachers with diminished revenues.

My blog will have more details—


April 2018

Staff has already begun working on the 2018-19 fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) budget. Preliminary figures for the general fund show that revenue will be flat for next year. Staff has reduced expenses in most departments however Police, Fire, and the Library are requesting increases that will need to be prioritized. We will be holding a budget work session on April 10th at 7 PM in the council chambers. The final budget will not be approved until June but now is the time to be involved if you want to influence the budget or spending priorities. Please come and join the discussion. Following the meeting we will ensure that the preliminary budget is made available online. Meanwhile, feel free to call or email ( council members to share your views.

We Rise by Lifting Others”, is our theme for the 2018 Highland Fling. We are looking for stories about Highland residents who have helped others to share during Fling week. You know, those who quietly go out of their way without assist the neighbor. Please share a description of the individual or group and examples of how they have blessed the lives of individuals with Julie Tapusoa ( by April 24th.

May 2015

Amazing Volunteers

In April we honored two residents who have quietly served the community for years. First was Laura Dawson who has chaired the Beautification Committee nearly five years. She has implemented programs such as "Yard of the Month" and "Adopt a Patch" which has helped to beautify the city, provide opportunities for volunteerism, and improve pride in our community. She also organized "Garden Tours" during the Fling. Second was Shauna Larson who has served as the Director of the Arts Council for seven years. She is the driving force behind the Council and brings incredible events and programs to Highland! She has brought in various types of artists from musicians, potters, painters, thespians and more. She's formed groups for stitchery, watercolors, theater workshops and productions, art shows, hand chimes, string ensembles, flute circles, choirs, art appreciation ,and more. She teaches many classes herself for both adults and youth. Shauna collaborates with nearly every department in the City and ensures there's a beautiful display of rotating art in City Hall. Laura and Shauna each received an award from the State and Highland for their service. Applause please :)

Water Conservation

We would like to remind residents to conserve water by following the watering schedule sent out by staff and discussed later in this newsletter. A great way to save water is to upgrade your sprinkler controller to a smart controller. These connect to your home internet and adjust your watering schedule based on the weather. Purchasers of smart controllers can apply for a rebate from the Central Utah Water Conservancy District beginning May 1. In 2017, the program allowed you get a 50% rebate off a purchase of up to $150. A common question we get is, why the city waters parks in the rain. The answer is, we have several hundred controllers that would need to be manually turned off, which takes a couple of days. Then of course, they have to be turned on again. All of the City's "new" installs such as Beacon Hills Park and new parkway details have smart sensors to help us water only the appropriate amount. Unfortunately all of our older parks such as Heritage, Highland Glen, etc. do not have the sensors installed. We are working to retroactively install as budget allows.

June 2016

I have been reviewing the 2018 Survey data. Here are my responses to a couple of the most frequent comments/questions:

  • The city needs to do a better job of communicating with residents.
    I believe we have made great strides over the past 4 years in the area. Yes we can always improve. There are several locations that residents can go online to get information:
    1) This is our city web page where you can access city code, get phone numbers, review the calendar and news items, look up meeting minutes and agendas, and sign up via Notify Me for alerts on items such as meeting agendas.
    2) Staff posts news items, city council meeting summaries, upcoming events … .
    3) I post articles regarding current or upcoming issues that are relevant to Highland.

  • Our roads are terrible; where did the money from the road fee go.
    Our road fee was implemented last August. We are starting to use the funds this year to improve the roads. the biggest project for the year will be rehabilitating 6000 W from 10400 N to 11800 N. It will take 7 years to work through the road plan, which you can find at this link: The money from the road fee is going exclusively to road maintenance and rehabilitation.

Thanks to all those who chose to engage with the city government and respectfully share their points of view. We all benefit from thoughtful discussions. We don’t always get our way. I didn’t as a member of city council and don’t as the mayor. That said I often find that even though I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, what we ended up with was better than my original wish because of the input of others.

July 2018

Here are some positive developments that are occurring in our fair city:

  • The state has offered up 112 acres of land south of Lone Peak HS up for sale or lease. Bids are due by the end of August. The land is designated as mixed use in our General Plan. Any of us who have north of $23M to spare should have a shot at purchasing the land:) See
  • The library is planning to have enough in its collection before the end of the year to qualify to be a full member of the North Utah County Library Cooperative. What this means to Highland Library card holders is that we will be able check out materials from the American Fork, Eagle Mountain, Lehi, Pleasant Grove, or Saratoga Springs libraries at no additional cost.
  • Speaking of the library we are taking applications for openings in the Library Board. Anyone interested in applying please fill out an application and contact me for an interview. See
  • Watch for a motion to revise our city code to disallow political signs on public property in August. A few years ago the code was revised to allow political signs to be placed on public property. These signs create additional work for our parks department, block sprinklers and can create safety hazards. Let me know your thoughts.

I hope everyone has a wonderful summer. Don’t forget our Highland Fling coming up Jul 28th to Aug 4th. I love our theme, “We Rise by Lifting Others.” Watch for opportunities to spend time with our neighbors and make new friends as we serve others.

Aug 2018

I want to thank all those who were involved in helping organize the Highland Fling this year. There are too many to mention but your efforts are appreciated and you definitely rose by lifting others.

I did hear from several residents relative to whether or not we want to continue to allow political signs on public property. There are arguments both ways but for me the increased costs to parks and recreation (broken sprinklers & relocating signs to mow) and the public safety issues that arise (blocked views on intersections) are deciding factors. Please share your thoughts with the mayor, council, and planning commission. You can use the following email addresses &

Our first major road project (6000 W) has been completed. There were a couple of bumps in the road. We found that one stretch of 6000 W had been constructed with only 2 inches of asphalt when there should have been 4 to 5 inches and in another area there was little to no road base just clay soil. Thanks to residents for their patience as the project was completed and for our road crew that oversaw the construction and had to make decisions on how to deal with unexpected situations.

I recently completed reviewing the city survey from February and writing replies to many of the over 1,100 comments which I will post on my blog. One of the items frequently mentioned in the comments was tax base so I thought I would look at some of the other cities in N. Utah County and see where we stacked up per household relative to sales tax revenue. Below is a chart that shows this.

2019 Budget Average City Sales Tax Revenue Per Household

Sept 2018

Highland is a co-sponsor of a workshop on how electronics are changing the human brain and what can be done about it. The event will be held on September 13th in the Lone Peak High School auditorium and will begin at 7 PM. Dr Christy Kane will be the keynote speaker. An interactive panel discussion will follow her presentation. The panel will include Dr. Kane, a school counselor, police and fire chiefs Brian Gwilliam and Reed Thompson. Dr. Kane spoke at our quarterly Issues and Information meeting in May. The council chambers and outside hallways were filled and we received positive feedback for several weeks thereafter. I would encourage parents, grandparents and teens to attend. Arrive early to ensure that you have a seat. American Fork Hospital is covering a large portion of the cost of the event. Thank you! However, we will also be soliciting donations at the event to cover the balance. Any excess will go to sponsoring future events.

I would like to remind everyone to please follow the water restrictions: even addresses on MWF, odd on TThS, water only between 6 PM and 10 AM … . We are in a drought year and need to conserve water. Right now we are using about twice as much water per irrigated acre of land as the average city. I know we are high achievers but this is a contest where the biggest number is not the best :)

On a positive note we now have an agreement in place with UDOT, Utah County and MAG (they help manage the county sales tax fund that is allocated for regionally significant transportation projects) to have UDOT oversee the design and construction of the East-West Connector (aka Murdock Connector). The design will start as soon as possible and hopefully will be completed in time to begin construction next year. Council and staff worked hard to make this happen. Thanks!

Oct 2018

Highland helped sponsor two events in September: “How Electronics are Changing the Human Brain and a town hall with Congressman John Curtis. About 500 people attended the event on electronics and the human brain. My biggest take away was that we all need to be hugged 8 times a day for 8 seconds. To the extent that our involvement with electronics significantly reduces personal contact we are being harmed. Our town hall with Congress Curtis was organized by the Highland City Youth Council. They did an awesome job and I was very proud of them. There were around 100 people in attendance. The questions were tough but fair,  I thought the congressman did an excellent job in responding to them and the audience was very respectful.

I finally published my post on the 2018 city survey. It includes my response to some common questions (I read every one of the over 1,500 comments) and numerous charts and graphs. If you have thoughts on questions for next year’s survey please let me know. In the survey comments a number of residents asked for weekly pickup of recycling. There are two issues with that; 1) our cost for recycling would nearly double and 2) according to our service provider most people in Highland don’t recycle enough to justify weekly pickup. I attended a presentation recently on the recycling industry and over the last few years the cost of recycling has increased by 15% while at the same time the value per ton of recycled material (paper, plastic …) has dropped by about 50%. On a side note, those who don’t use as many garbage containers in the winter can save money ($7.45/month per can) by returning them until the spring. Call (801) 756-5751 to find out how.

For those interested in learning more about the candidates who are running to replace Mike Kennedy as our state representative, a debate/meet the candidate event will be held at city hall on Saturday October 20th at 11:00 AM.

Nov 2018

I want to thank the over 150 people who helped with the recent hillside flood that impacted two homes near the  mouth of the canyon in the View Point subdivision. I am so grateful to live in a town where people just jump in and help even on a cool rainy night. Over 150 barefoot people in shorts, young men and women, mothers, fathers and grandparents worked on a cool rainy evening. They quickly turned a problem into a enjoyable service project helping to remove water and mud from two basements and filling and placing hundreds of sandbags. City staff, fire, police and elected officials were also on scene.

UDOT has selected a firm to design the East-West Connector and are working to finalize the contract. Additionally, the State Developmental Center has selected 6 finalists out of 13 firms that bid on 112 acres of state land south of Lone Peak High School. These firms will be presenting to the Dev Center Board in closed session on Nov 5th. According to the state project manager there are proposals for an outright purchase as well as some that include purchase and lease combinations.

On another note, the city council agreed to support the development of a 17 acre park to the west of Mountain Ridge Jr. High. The park will include pickleball courts as well as other amenities. Watch for more details in the coming weeks on the city website and in my blog (

December 2018

As the year closes we have much to be thankful for in Highland. Our roads are improving thanks to your willingness to make that a priority. Our police and fire department continue to do well. The East-West Connecter road design has started—I expect the road to be finished sometime in 2020. Our residents have stepped in and made a difference in a number of cases of personal, and neighborhood challenges. We have a wonderful new librarian, great library workers and volunteers and continue to have great staff members.

Changes are afoot. The Utah State Developmental Center Board selected a firm to develop the land south of Lone Peak High School. By the time you read this the developer (Boyer Company) will have met with staff to start discussions and we will have a much clearer idea of what is being proposed. Whatever it is, some will like it others will not. The requested total density will be higher than “normal.” Consistent with our general plan which identifies this area as “mixed use” I would expect some townhomes, twin homes, and single family dwellings plus some commercial along N. County Blvd. We will share information with you as it becomes available. The positive side is that we will have more wonderful neighbors bringing with them unique skills and talents to bless our community. See for a map showing the land to be developed and the East-West Connector.

Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope you find joy in the season regardless of your circumstance. A quote from one of my favorite authors seems fitting: “Happiness is the hunger to give. True happiness must ever have the tinge of sorrow outlived, the sense of pain softened by the mellowing years, the chastening of loss that in the wondrous mystery of time transmutes our suffering into love and sympathy with others.”—William George Jordan.

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