Monday, July 31, 2017

Questions from Highland Residents


I’ve knocked on nearly 10% of the doors in Highland, and talked with many of you at various events. Here are responses to three of the questions and comments I frequently hear:

  • Why was a fee rather than a tax used to pay for the roads?
    45% of our roads need some form of rehabilitation rather than simple maintenance. After determining the cost to repair these roads the question faced by the council was whether to use a fee, tax, or combination of the two. In the each of four road study meetings held throughout the city, surveys showed that nearly 60% of the residents favored a fee. Why?

    1. Money collected through a fee must be used on roads whereas property tax goes into the general fund and can be used for anything.
    2. A fee can have a sunset clause whereas a property tax cannot.

    Property taxes can be deducted from income tax and are more proportional (fixed percentage of income) than a fee but these features did not outweigh 1 and 2 for most residents.

  • Highland has high property taxes. What can we do to stop them from going up?
    Below is a chart that shows the percentage difference in city property tax rates between Highland and other north Utah County cities.  Click here to see a spreadsheet containing the Utah County 2016 Tax rates.

    Regarding increases in Highland’s property tax. Here is a brief history:
    2006: 39% increase ($324,197).
    2007: Library tax added ($200,366).
    2010: 4% decrease ($67,900) Yes the city property tax was reduced!

    Utah calculates property taxes using a certified tax rate. This means that once a taxing entity (e.g. a city) requests a specific amount of tax revenue the county calculates a tax rate that guarantees it will receive that amount of revenue. In subsequent years if property values double then the tax rate will be cut in half. The only increase a city receives is if there is growth (new homes or businesses are built). Click here for a more detailed explanation of the certified tax rate.

  • Highland can’t seem to attract businesses. What can we do to change that so we don’t have to pay such high taxes?
    Since 2012 Meier’s, CVS, QuickQuack, the UPS Store, TacoTime, and other businesses have opened in Highland. We have also had Ace Hardware, the Alpine Credit Union and others come to Highland in the last 10 years. Interesting note, according to the store manager Highland’s CVS is currently outperforming the one in American Fork. Alas, we don’t have a Wal-Mart or Smith’s but then we don’t have Cedar Hills’ or Lehi’s higher property tax rate (46% and 34% respectively).


  1. It sounds like you are in denial that Highland is unfriendly to business. What about Chick-fil-A, what about O'Reiley? Instead of just listing some of the businesses that have landed in Highland why don't you also be fair and list the businesses that inquired about opening in Highland but decided not to due to all the red tape? The truth is that fees and higher taxes are the lazy way to pay for things that the city needs like roads. Highland politicians have campaigned as fiscal, business friendly republicans but never walk the walk. My Highland City bill was $80 when I moved to Highland in 2007. Today it is about $175.

    1. Someone recently told me that Chick-fil-A wanted to come here and didn't because we were difficult to work with. Here's what I learned. I could not find that Chick-fil-A applied to come to Highland. At least since 2008. I have not heard about O'Reiley but I will look into that? Do you have any specific info on it or Chick-fil-A? Highland has been difficult to deal with in the past from a business perspective but we are much better now and continuing to improve. After our fee increases last year our fees we were still below the average relative to other N. County cities.

    2. I asked about O'Reiley. As far as I can tell they never applied to open in Highland. It is possible they evaluated Highland without ever applying, looking at items such as accessibility, traffic volume ... and made a decision without ever contacting the city directly.

  2. Rod, you are as open a politician as I have ever known. I appreciate that and even if I do look at things differently I know I will always hear what you truly believe. Keep that up.


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