Thursday, February 21, 2019

Highland City: 2018 in Review

2019-02-20 progress2018 was a busy year for staff and elected officials. We made a lot of progress in multiple areas. I’ve reviewed what transpired and highlighted those items that I believe were the most impactful and/or newsworthy. I’ve organized these by general categories. The last is “Highland in the News”. We received a lot of good coverage this year from local media and were even mentioned in a USA Today article.


  • Staff implemented a short report called the “City Council Brief.” These are published and shared on the city website and Facebook page within a few days of any council meeting. The brief contains a short descriptions of actions taken by the council and includes a link to a spreadsheet that shows all votes cast by each member of council since Jan 2018.
  • Meet with the Mayor” held the 2nd Wednesday of each month in the library. Residents can come and talk about whatever is on their minds. 2 to 30 people have come each month. Scouts have used this is an opportunity to meet with an elected local official. Issues have been raised in these meeting that were taken to the council and resolved. For example, the issue of how we manage items removed from the cemetery as part of our quarterly clean-ups was raised'. I took this to staff and they researched the issue then gave council options and the council made a decision on how to move forward before the end of the year. This did not happen overnight but it was dealt to the satisfaction of the those who expressed concern.
    2019-01-09 MWTM 3c
  • Communication by the mayor. 18 blog posts, 10 newsletter messages, and one column in the new magazine Highland Living.
  • Issues and Information Meetings. These are quarterly meetings on community issues that I started sponsoring in 2013. Here is a list of those held in 2018.
    1. Town Hall with Congressman John Curtis. The Youth Council volunteered to organize this meeting and did a fantastic job.
    2. Discussion with UDOT on issues related to N. County Blvd
    3. “How Electronics Impact the Human Brain.” This was held twice due to popularity. The 2nd time we organized it as a multi-city event and held it at Lone Peak HS. Alpine School District did not charge for the event and IHC American Fork helped pay for the speaker fees.
    4. A review of the legislative session with Rep Mike Kennedy. We also had a presentation by a member of the George Washington Museum of American History board.
  • The council approved an enhanced code of conduct that encourages transparency and communication.


  • Safest Cities in Utah (blog post, data). Data on the 20 safest cities in Utah. The most interesting item to me was the big disparity between Highland and the Utah (17.9x higher) and National (26.6x higher)  averages.
    2019-01 Top Safest Cities in Utah - Violent Crimes per 1,000
  • 2008-2017 City & State Crime History (blog post, data). Highland/Alpine were the safest cities in Utah in 2010 and 2016. We are generally in the top 3 safest cities. Nationally, for cities with a population over 10,000 we are in the top 200 safest cities. We ranked as high as the 29th safest city. Note, in 2017 there were 3,454 cities with a population of over 10,000. I used the FBI data coupled with research on the cost of crime to help put a value to a low crime rate. Again, there is a significant disparity between Highland, Utah (8.2x higher) and the US (14.3x higher).
    2019-01 Cost of Crime per Capita
  • Summary of the 2013 Utah State Plan (blog post, data) for the development of the property south of the High School. Note, this plan is not being used by the developer selected in November of 2018 to develop the land but it was something that the bidders evaluated. .
    Dev Center Unit Types
  • Police and Fire Budget Trends (data): Charts and data that show public safety expenses as related to tax revenues from 2000 up to 2027. 2020-2027 are trend based projects. 2019 is based on the approved budgets. The Public Safety budget will again be an issue this year. Here is the a chart showing the police and fire costs as a percentage of sales & property tax revenue.
    2019-01 Public Safety Costs
  • Fire Service 2 year response summary and public safety cost allocation (blog). Towards the end of this post service call data from Oct 2015 through Sep 2017 is summarized. This include average calls per day, total and average/day calls for services to Highland, Cedar Hills, Alpine and surrounding communities, response time, and type of calls. The post also compares how public safety could be split between Highland and Alpine using alternate cost allocation models. Note, Cedar Hills elected to leave the district effective July 1 2019 so my models exclude them in gauging future impact.
    2015-2017 LPFD Avg Service Calls Per Day
    Percent Call Types
    2017-18 PSD Cost Allocation Models
  • Estimated cost of political signs on public property for 2017 (data). Staff determined that the direct cost burden (moving them to mow, replacing sprinklers, …) to the city for allowing political signs on public property was ~$8,800. There are indirect costs as well. Issues such as (safety) impairing views at intersections, blocking sprinklers … . Note, no neighboring cities allow political signs on public property which makes our property even more attractive for all candidates in the area. I was interested in either disallowing them or limiting placement locations or sign size. The council however was not.
  • 2018 City Survey ((blog post, data). This survey was taken in February of 2018. I went through the data, created charts, organized comments and wrote replies to over 60% of the 1,527. If you click on the data link a Google spreadsheet will open. Across the bottom you will see named “tabs.” The first is a summary sheet followed tabs named “CH:XXX”  (chart of XXX), then tabs named “CM:XXX” (comments related to XXX) and finally the “Data” tab. Select any of the comment tabs to see my responses to questions raised by residents.

    2018 Survey Quality of Life

  • Utah County growth projections by city (data). These projections were done by a state funded group. In Highland’s case I believe they are low and asked the group to meet with our staff. it is interesting to note that by 2050 Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs are projected to be the 2nd and 3rd largest cities in the county, eclipsing Orem and Lehi. Provo will remain the largest city.
    Utah County Growth Projections By Larger Cities (2017-2050)
  • Utah County property tax rates (data). Data and charts for Utah County property tax rates for 2012-2013 and 2016-2018. Highland has the 2nd lowest property tax rate of the 9 cities in north Utah County and the 12th lowest out of the 52 cities in the county.
    2018 Utah County Property Tax Rates
  • Comparative Tax Revenues and Expenses (blog post, data). A look at comparative tax revenue (sales, property, other) and expenses by household between N. County cities.
    2019 Budget Average City Sales Tax Revenue Per Household

Projects & Events

  • 2018 Road Rehabilitation (blog post).  During 2018 we executed the first year of our 7-year road rehabilitation and preservation plan. A few revisions were made to the scheduled projects due to changing circumstances (see blog) post). Our big project for the year, 6000 W, was completed on time but ran over budget ($200,000) when we discovered that the asphalt on the north end was 2 inches thinner than we thought and the road base adjacent to Highland Elementary School was deficient. In spite of this we finished the year $17.3K over our $1.5M budget (1.2% ). Not bad!
  • 4800 W right turn lane. UDOT an Alpine helped fund the right turn lane on southbound 4800 at Timpanogos Hwy (SR92) which was completed in 2018..
  • Library: We reached the number of books it took to qualify for full membership in North Utah County Library Cooperative (NUCLC) in September and hired a new library director, Donna Cardon, in October. Click here for an article in the Daily Herald. Full membership in NUCLC allows Highland library card holders to check out books from any library in the system (American Fork, Eagle Mountain, Lehi, Pleasant Grove, and Saratoga Springs. Director Cardon has already proven to be a great asset. I’ve heard great feedback from patrons and staff. Note, thanks to The Library Foundation and Friends of the Library for their help in getting donations to help purchase the extra books needed qualify for NUCLC.
  • The Fling. According to many this was one of the best Flings ever and was capped by a nature enhanced firework show that was 2nd to none. Personally, I loved the theme “We Rise By Lifting Others”, the hot air balloons, and the service projects which were executed during the week. There were a number of positive articles in the media which covered various aspect of the week long event (see Highland in the News at the bottom of this post). My favorite article covered a family who, on their own initiative, served a stranger.
  • Pheasant Hollow Sewer Relining (blog post): This project saved the city about $20,000 in annual operating costs. In 2019 we will continue to line additional sewer mains in Pheasant Hollow and Hidden Oaks.


  • East West Connector:
    • Worked with legislature to help ensure that the East-West connector was approved and encourage the state to sell rather than lease the land south of Lone Peak High School.
    • Highland along with Utah County approved an agreement to have UDOT manage the design and construction of the East-West Connector. Design was started in October. We expect construction to start sometime this year and then finish up next year. Click here to get the latest project information from UDOT.
  • Sewer backup impacting 7 homes. Although the city was not liable it worked with those at fault to ensure the residents were compensated. It took longer than anyone wanted the residents but in the end the insurance payouts were fair.
  • Flooding in View Pointe. Police, Fire, city staff and well over 150 neighbors helped clean-out 2 homes, put in sandbags, and dig a trench on a cold rainy night. See Daily Herald Article.
    2018-10-15 Flood 1
    2018-10-15 Flood 2
  • Mountain Ridge Pre-Construction Park Committee was established with 7 members. To help in determining how to program/develop the Mountain Ridge park. The council elected to sell a 12-acre parcel of land purchased by the city 10 years ago to help develop a 17 acre park located to the west of Mountain Ridge Jr. High. Note, in lieu of a 12 acre park a 2.5 acre neighborhood park will be built along with up to 11 homes.
  • The city initiated and General Fund study to provide long-term outlook on revenue and expenses and a follow-on market study to look at the quantity and types of businesses that can be sustained in our community. Market Study Advisory Committee was formed to be a citizen review panel as the study progresses. Both studies will have their final reports completed by the end of the 1st quarter of 2019.

Highland In the News

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