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.



  • Public Comment: None

Consent ITEMS

  1. MOTION: Approval for Meeting Minutes for City Council Work Session – April 14, 2015. Unanimously approved.

  2. MOTION: Approval for Meeting Minutes for City Council Work Session – April 21, 2015. Unanimously approved.

  3. MOTION: Creation of an ADHOC Committee - History Committee. Unanimously approved.

  4. MOTION: Ratifying the Mayor’s Appointments to the Highland City History Committee – Charles Greenland, Quentin White and David Larsen. Unanimously approved.


  1. TENTATIVE BUDGET: Fiscal year 2015-2016. The finance director reviewed the changes to the budget since the last budget workshop (click here to see presentation). Here are the major bullets:

    Changes to 2015-16 Budget Since Last Work Session:
    • Total Budget–Work Session:  Rev. $7.723 M, Exp. $7.722 M
    • Total Budget–Tentative: Rev. $8.057 M, Exp. $8.056 M
    • Bldg. Permit Rev. from $366 K to $379 K
    • Class “C” Road Fund Rev. from $530 K to $560 K
    • Transfer from Gen. Fund to Cap. Roads from $200 K to $560 K
    • Bldg. Maint. From $51,000 to $35,000
    • Maint./Repair Trucks in Streets from $30,000 to $15,000
    • Fees and Services
       - Architectural Review from $0 to $4,500
       - Preliminary Review from $3,000 to $19,500
       - Final Review from $30,000 to $12,000
       - Pub. Works Inspection Fee from $0 to $62,500
       - Civil Review Fee (new account) from $0 to $59,000
    • Wimbledon Park Maint., $65,000, no change
    • Heritage Park Maint., $35,000, no change
    • Trail Maint. (Dry Creek), from $20 K to $80 K
    • Tree Pruning from $15,000 to $0
    • Seasonal Emp. Parks, from $55,000 to $70,000

    The mayor opened the public hearing for comment but there were no comments at that time.  There were however, comments from the public during the subsequent council discussion.

Action Items

  1. MOTION: Questar Gas Easement Request – Expand existing easement located east of Beacon Hills subdivision. Questar is upgrading a 10 inch gas line to at 12 inch line and in conjunction with this they would like to expand the existing 16 ft. easement to a 30 ft. easement. The 16 ft. easement was put in place in 1947. Their new standard easement is a minimum of 30 ft. up to 50 ft. The expanded is easement has two purposes: 1) To protect the pipeline from development and 2) provide adequate space for equipment to construct and maintain the new line. Restrictions on the easement include no structures, and no trees. Trails and roads are allowed. You may have recently noticed a trench being dug in SR 92/Timpanogos Hwy just east of N. County Blvd. This was Questar putting in the new line.

    2015-05-19 Questar Easement

    After some discussion the approved motion was to have staff work out an agreement including a price with Questar for the easement and return it to council for final approval.
  2. RESOLUTION: Approval of Fiscal Year 2015-2016 - Tentative Budget. The city is obligated to approve a tentative budget before June. The final budget will be discussed at the June 16th meeting. Here is a summary of the discussion prior to the tentative budget being approved.

    We discussed the cost of replacing the playground equipment at Wimbledon Park. The current equipment has a number of safety issues. The replacement cost is about $45,000. Scott Smith offered to help raise $10,000 to mitigate the cost and mentioned that he had heard that there might be a county grant available for $18,000. We ended up reducing the park equipment budget from $65,000 to $40,000. Note, there is $20,000 in the park equipment budget for maintenance related costs.

    Jessie Schoenfeld asked the $1,500 be added to the budget to cover a donation requests from the Highland Jr. Miss and Miss North Utah County pageants (as we have in previous years). We had a lively discussion on the matter. Some, including me felt that the city should not be contributing to charitable groups on behalf of its residents and that organizes connect better to the community when the solicit donations from individuals and/or businesses. Others felt that these events contribute in a positive way to the development of young women and that the city should support them. The motion to put this into the budget failed 3 to 2 (No: Tim Irwin, Dennis LeBaron, Rod Mann  Yes: Brian Braithwaite, Jessie Schoenfeld).

    We also discussed allocating a portion of the city’s administrative expenses to the library as well as charging the library rent. The rationale is that since the library has dedicated revenue sources it should be treated is some ways like a separate fund and bear all its expenses. This provides transparency to the public and helps prepare them for a time when they have their own building. Also, taking this approach addresses most of the concerns I had regarding the library property tax and so I don’t see a pressing need to eliminate it.

    Scott Smith (library board member) spoke in favor of the concept and the library board chair offered to meet with a couple of council member prior to the next library board meeting (next week) to go over the allocations so that everyone understands them. There is strong support on the council to do this.

    I also asked that the library reduce it present budget so that it increase is less than 3.8% rather than the current 6.8%. Note, revenues for the city are projected to increase by 0.8% and the police and fire departments have already had their budgets increased by 4.6% and 2.6% respectively.

    The tentative budget was approved on a 4 to 1 vote.

    I’ve updated the online budget data to reflect the final tentative budget and added a column in the “Data” sheet to show what it would look like if the administrative expenses and rent shown below were allocated to the library budget.

      Office Supplies
      Prof & Tech Services
      Prop Insurance




      Cost Allocation Basis
      % of *FTEs (26,8%)
      % of phones (15.8%)
      % of FTEs (26,8%)
      % of total sq. ft. (19.56%)
      % of total sq. ft. (19.56%)
      % of total sq. ft. (19.56%)
      per sq. ft. charged to Alpine for the court building. ($10.20)
      *FTE: Full-Time Equivalent Employees

      Note, this is simply a reallocation of existing general fund expenses and will not change the net expenses for the general fund. However, it would more accurately reflect all library costs. This is significant as the library, even though it is included in the general fund, has its own dedicated funding sources. In previous years it has spent less than its dedicated revenue sources provide. This results in a surplus (as of July 2014 the total surplus was ~$89,000) that can only be spent on future library expenses rather than other general fund needs such as roads. With the proper cost allocations in place the surplus will disappear and those “surplus” dollars can now be applied where they are needed most rather than remain unused.

    Mayor, City Council and staff communication items

    • We discussed the issue of watering city parks. Staff shared the following information with us.

      There are two issues. The first is that the city has 140 multiple line sprinkler controllers and 100 battery operated single line controllers throughout the city. It takes the 2 and a half days to manually turnoff the 140 controllers (3 employees have to re-prioritize their
      work activities - some of which can't be put off).

      The mayor, and several council members have asked staff to look into the cost of adding sensors (most of the controllers are older and would need to be upgraded to support sensors) and/or putting in a system that would let the sprinklers be centrally controlled but I suspect this may be cost prohibitive.

      The second thing is that when we have extended rainstorms or excessive runoff the city's irrigation reservoirs fill up and then overflow ends up in Utah Lake. It is essentially use it or lose it. So sprinkling even when it is raining doesn't always negatively impact our water supply.

      Below is a current picture (from today) of one the irrigation retention ponds. It is full and water is existing from an overflow drain.

      2015-05-21 Irrigation Retenion Pond Full

    • I asked whether, given that we may be picking up an additional 2 acres of park land in a proposed land swap with Alpine School District, if we an utilize existing undeveloped park land for other purposes. Nathan Crane pointed out that we have two undeveloped parks Spring Creek and Mountain View. Both were purchased with bonds that are being funded by impact fees. If we were to sell the land or use if for other purposes we would need to refund impact fees already paid.

    • I also discussed the library poll which is being launched. I have an issue with the responses provided to the question, “How important to you is a community library?” The current allowed responses are:

      1. Extremely Important
      2. Very Important
      3. Neither important or unimportant
      4. Very Unimportant
      5. Not all important

      What I would prefer is something like: Important, Somewhat Important, Neither important or unimportant, somewhat unimportant, Unimportant. I think going from a neutral point of view to either very important or very unimportant is too big a jump. The library chair will look into whether this can be changed or not.

      I also recommended that bitly or TinyURL be used to shorten the web address of the poll so that it is easier to type in. The current address is 56 characters long. Note, a limited number of flyers with the web address and a QR Code were handed out a the city open house last week. I’m reluctant to share the poll address until the response issues gets sorted out otherwise I would have provided a link.


    • 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

    • 2015-16 budget planning and 2014-2015 year-to-date budget spreadsheet. Note, the tab named “Questions” has Questions that I and others have asked and any answers that have been received. The “Version History” tab lists the changes made from the previous version of the budget. The “Data” tab has the complete tentative budget information.

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