I’m pleased to inform you that last night I called on the city council to revoke city funding of the Veteran’s Memorial project. The vote was unanimous in the affirmative. Read more on the subject on my mayoral campaign website, alan4mayor.com.
I have written an update on the recent rumors surrounding Heber Light & Power. Please visit my mayoral campaign website, www.alan4mayor.com, to learn more. (visit alan4mayor)
My new mayoral campaign website is up and running. I’ll be posting new content on my campaign website, so be sure to visit alan4mayor.com!
On June 20, 2013, the city council met to vote on the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, 2013-2014. Below is the statement I read to the Council at this meeting. After hearing the City Manager’s budget proposal in its entirety, I decided to vote no. I asked our City Manager beforehand if we could go through the budget and vote, section by section rather than taking an all or nothing approach. But the motion that was made was to vote for the budget in its entirety as it was, yes or no. I actually agreed with the majority of the items on the proposed budget; however, there were a few items I did not agree with. One item in particular, providing $375,000 to fund the Veteran’s Memorial, was something I could not in good conscience agree to vote for.
At the time the Veteran’s Memorial was proposed, there was no indication that there would be insufficient funds for the city to commit to the project. Feeling a sense of gratitude to our veterans, I voted to tentatively support the memorial with $300,000 in city funds; knowing that the budget (which had not yet been discussed) would still need to be reviewed and approved. At the time, I felt this might be a good way to show our gratitude to veterans, and although the price seemed quite high, our City Manager (who also acts as Chief Financial Officer for the city) did not say anything about there being a lack of funds for the project. This vote allowed for planning on the Memorial proposal to move forward.
Since that vote I have listened to a number of veterans and other residents in our community, and I now realize that this Veteran’s Memorial is not in the best interest of our city and in many cases is something that our local veterans do not desire or even support. I had two letters written to me by veterans, both of which were published in the Wasatch Wave, asking the council not to commit city funds to building this memorial. I talked to a number of other veterans personally and they expressed similar sentiments to me. I have also discovered that the city does not even have sufficient funds in the budget to cover the basic operational expenses in the upcoming year, let alone the heavy price of the memorial. We would require additional debt in order to fund the city’s portion of the memorial. According to the documentation given to us by our City Manager Mark Anderson, the city will have to bond for up to 1.3 million dollars to cover our expenses in this next fiscal year. This Veteran’s Memorial is a want and not a need.
I believe the city must meet its obligations before committing to provide funds to projects that are not totally necessary. I can think of at least two examples of obligations that the city is currently struggling to meet, that must be provided for before considering such items; first the repair of the dilapidated roof on the old Senior Citizens Center, now rented by the Timpanogos Theater Company, and second adequate funding of employee’s retirement plans, wages, and benefits.
From the street, one can easily discern that the roof of the Old Social Hall is dangerously in need of repair. This is no ordinary building; it has served generations of Heber residents for over a hundred years. It is a unique part of our heritage, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for over forty years. This building is not only an asset of the city, but of the community as well; and we must be good stewards of it as long as it has been entrusted to our care.
The second example is not only a matter of good governance, but also a moral obligation. I believe that the city must keep its promises to its employees by adequately funding the various forms of compensation that both parties have agreed to. By diverting $375,000 of city funds to the Veterans Memorial we weaken the city’s ability to honor these commitments. The people of Heber deserve a government that represents them honorably; and the city’s employees deserve an employer that is as reliable and trustworthy as they are.
Finally, I believe that the Veterans Memorial is an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers of Heber City; especially considering how unwelcome it is among the veterans I have heard from. The memorial is a good example of something private citizens and groups could accomplish honorably, but is totally inappropriate for the city. This is why I voted NO on the proposed budget for 2013-2014.
Public Statement Presented at Budget Meeting:
One of the most important duties I fulfill as a member of your city council is to present a proposed balanced budget to the citizens of this city. It is a task I take very seriously and even though the fiscal budget year doesn’t begin until July, the council begins discussions on this topic early in the year. We have been working on the proposal for the past 4 months.
As with all of our budgets, the 2014 budget preparation did not come easily. We are presented with many challenges now, and we face many challenges in the future.
The economy is improving very slowly. But, despite this slow economic growth, we still have issues in the city that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. For example, operational expenses continue to grow, depreciation of infrastructure needs to be addressed, and we need to address the by-pass road system. Because of inflation, the rate of growth of our expenses often exceeds the rate of growth of our revenues.
In the current budget, 66% of the revenues are used for employee’s salaries, wages, and benefit compensation. That leaves only 34% for the replacement of technology, fuel, insurance, operational costs, and maintenance.
With the increasing cost to run the city, the council must continue to keep in mind all options as we plan our budgets and create a 5-year plan for the city.
It is difficult to find the balance between fostering growth (which brings greater demand for service) and maintaining quality services to the citizens of Heber. As the city grows, we must anticipate the services that will be necessary to meet the increased demand.
As a councilmember, I am always concerned about the city’s ability to serve our citizens better, providing higher quality service, and making sure that everyone is treated fairly.
In addition to looking at the 2014 budget, the council must also address future financial plans. These plans should include capital projects, continual increases in city employee’s benefits, and calculating the expenses of the operation and maintenance of the city.
Health insurance premiums will continue to increase, in part because of changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act. Because federal law now mandates that businesses with 50 or more employees provide health insurance to their employees, and the city would be included in this mandate, health insurance costs could rise over 25% in the next year, and the continued increase will be unknown each year thereafter.
With no State or Federal compensation for these increases, the city will have to come up with the money to cover these expenses.
Public safety is another great concern I have, especially considering the violence we are constantly barraged with on the news every day. It is important that we have a strong police force that is prepared to help protect our citizens and our community from such violence.
However, to maintain a strong police force and provide them with the tools necessary to do their jobs, we must invest in equipment and technology, and these things are expensive. Yet, I feel these investments save lives and are therefore well worth the costs.
An aging infrastructure is also of great concern, not simply because things are old, but because some things create a public safety hazard if they are not replaced appropriately. Yet in other circumstances, rather than replacement, we need to focus on maintaining the existing equipment to keep it functioning properly for as long as possible. I feel a system must be put in place to ensure that regular routine maintenance occurs on city equipment and buildings as recommended by the manufacturer and staff. Maintaining our current equipment will extend its usable life and save the city money in the long run.
Some of the city’s operations really do require a lot of maintenance, both in regards to finances and manpower. In the near future we may need to consider options we have not previously considered in order to survive the increase in costs.
We definitely need to be efficient and effective as a city, and getting to a balanced budget will require some hard decisions by the council and department heads. I would like the city to enact a 5-year plan that would include the following objectives: determine reasonable and sustainable levels for salary and benefit increases, determine the funding requirements for capital projects, and identify the funding methods the city will use to produce the additional funds. In short, we need to be more proactively planning for increased demand on city funds.
Thankfully we are not currently in dire straits financially, but planning now is necessary to help us keep out of financial trouble in the future. The budget for the coming year is in good shape, we are refining it now to match revenues. The good news to the public is that we did not impose increases in property taxes this year. The department heads have made some very reasonable requests and have been very thrifty with their department’s budgets, which I thank them for.
In February of this year, Senator Rand Paul cut a six-figure check to the U.S. Treasury. In total, Senator Paul has returned $1.1 million to the federal government in unspent funds that his office was able to save by running more efficiently. To describe how he accomplished this, he stated, “We watch every purchase. We watch what computers we buy, what paper we buy, the ink cartridges. We treat the money like it’s our money, or your money, and we look at every expenditure…We are frugal from top to bottom.” This is the type of example I think all government employees and public servants should follow. As you can see from this example there is always room for improvement.
A challenge I would like to give to the city department heads is to see if they can come in 2% below their projected budgets. Coming in under budget would give the city some financial freedom to fund any unexpected expenses that may come up during the current budget year. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the great things our city employees accomplish. These talented people have a unique perspective; they witness the business of the city as it occurs on the front lines. They are most familiar with the policies and procedures that are efficient, and the areas that require the most improvement. I am certain that they will eagerly answer the call to reduce the burden our government imposes on our neighbors if we simply ask them.
I believe as stewards of your money, it is our obligation to take a deep look at everything we do and every dollar we spend. If we are wise stewards and live within our means, I see the future of Heber City as being bright and filled with the potential for great things.
June 10, 2013
Dear Heber City Residents,
In the last edition of the Wasatch Wave I read a very touching letter from one of our veterans. To my surprise, I was also mailed a copy of this letter in my city council mail packet last week. The author only identifies himself both in the Wave letter to the editor and in the letter to myself as “An Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran & Soldier, ” but despite his humility, his message really struck a chord with me. This veteran’s letter puts into words many of the same thoughts and feelings that I have had towards the proposed Veteran’s Memorial, as well as many of the thoughts and feelings that local veterans have expressed to me about the new Memorial. I would urge you to read the text of this letter that I have copied and pasted below from the Wave’s website. Please let me know your thoughts and feelings about it.
Councilman Alan McDonald
“All I Ask for is Liberty
Editor: I hesitate to write this letter to you. I am a decorated veteran, however I count myself among the least qualified to bear the title ‘Veteran’. Many have gone before me, and have sacrificed far more than I have; and today, others endure more than I probably ever will. While I am proud of our traditions and our heritage, I am humbled to wear this uniform, made sacred by the accomplishments of my predecessors. America has instilled tremendous pride in this uniform because of their sacrifices and valor. I feel inadequate to be the recipient of handshakes from strangers, or a ‘thank you’ from a child knowing that this gratitude belongs to those who came before me. Nevertheless, I write this letter in their behalf as well as mine; and I do it with a tremendous amount of humility.
Those noble souls paved the path to freedom with their precious blood when they placed themselves ‘between their loved homes and the war’s desolation’. Today we honor their sacrifices with holidays, parades, and monuments, and we pledge to care for today’s heroes through a multitude of programs, benefits, and privileges. I am appreciative of the gratitude our community awards servicemen and women, but I sometimes wonder if some of the things that are done in our honor are not contrary to the cause we fight, and sacrifice for.
For example, when the government commits vast public resources to building numerous monuments in honor of veterans, I cannot help but think of the burden placed on communities to complete such projects. I am certain that such monuments are politically advantageous, but beyond aesthetics I cannot see the real benefit to them; particularly when they are funded through the mandatory taxation of the community. This public burden is contrary to the cause I have fought for, and it really offends me to see it carried out in my honor.
Today I learned that Heber City intends to build another such monument, and that the city has committed $300 thousand dollars for this project. When I see my neighbors struggling to pay their bills, and I imagine the burden that this additional expense will be to them, it truly saddens me. I wonder if the government I have been protecting is fighting for the same cause I am.
There is no building of stone or marble you could possibly construct that would parallel the sacrifices that have been made to grant us liberty. In the cause of liberty, your duty as a government is not the building of monuments. You will do far more to honor these sacrifices by building a government that does not oppress, and impose heavy burdens on our community. Build a government that upholds justice, sustains peace, and preserves order so that liberty may thrive. Anything more or less than this is contrary to the honor you espouse.
Again, I appreciate the tremendous amount of gratitude that I receive from the community for my service. I welcome handshakes and gracious statements from my neighbors. The only thing I ask of my government, however, is liberty. Give me this, and I will know that you honor my sacrifice.
An Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran & Soldier”
Read more:The Wasatch Wave – Letters
As your councilman, I feel it is one of my most important duties to support local businesses in the community. Small business is the economic engine that drives our economy. We rely on them every day to meet our needs and to strengthen our community. I have thus far met with over 70 local business owners to talk to them about what we as a council can do to help them become more successful and profitable. The most common comment I have received is that local businesses would like the chance to be able to bid on city projects. That is why I am working to develop a plan to help small businesses in Heber City. To help accomplish this goal, I have drafted an ordinance regarding Local Vender Preference. The actual ordinance can be found under Council Meeting Updates on this blog. If you have any questions or comments please let me know. I am especially interested in the opinions of local businesses owners. Let me know how we can best serve you!
Statement Read to the Heber City Council in last night’s work meeting about why the City should Buy Local First:
- I am pleased to say that the city council is working on creating an ordinance that gives preference to those businesses that pay taxes and fees to the city and hire local residents. This local preference ordinance was presented by me to the council a few months ago as part of a strategic business plan that I have for the city to help boost our local economy. I have personally spent the past 3 months researching business incentive programs like this that other local communities have put into place.
There are a great deal of business owners who have chosen to invest their own time and money in the Labor and material markets of Heber City. These businesses are a critical part of our economy. As a member of the city council I want to make sure that whenever possible, those same businesses are given special consideration when bidding for work in the City of Heber.
This local Preference Ordinance represents creative thinking and strategic planning to support our local economy and to create a competitive operating environment in which businesses can thrive.
Strategies like this encourage people to buy local and are very important components of economic sustainability to the city. It is not only the responsibility of the city council to help our local businesses by buying local, but it is the responsibility of everyone in this community.
This ordinance is an incentive for local businesses to sell to the City and keep their profits in the community. If the City gives local suppliers their business, the profits from those sales will be used elsewhere in the City. It is using local money to stimulate local providers of goods, services and construction. We help our businesses, as well as the City when we keep our tax dollars in the community.
Studies have shown that these benefits are multiplied within the community and will have a positive effect for many within the City. An Economics Professor at USC named Charles Swenson conducted an analysis on local preference ordinances. He concluded that the heightened economic activity and jobs created by a local preference policy would generate new revenue for the City that would offset any incremental increase in the cost of goods or services associated with awarding contracts to local businesses.
I personally feel from the research that I have done, that local preference policies generate new jobs, stimulate the local economy, and generate new revenue for the city with very little cost to the City.
With unemployment still high in this city, we cannot afford to send our taxpayers’ money to out of state or out of the valley businesses. The city should make its purchases in a way that helps local businesses create local jobs, and that’s what this ordinance will do.
It only makes economic sense to reinvest local taxpayer’s money back into our own community. It will develop new jobs and strengthen our local economy. Our primary focus should be directed towards the businesses and workers in our community.
When the City Awards its government contracts to non-local businesses this represents a significant missed opportunity to stimulate our local economy and create jobs.
I do not feel this local preference policy will have much effect on non-local businesses and it does not unduly hamper non-local businesses in the contracting process. The bid proposals for City work will still be just as competitive with what the market will bear. And most businesses do not totally base their business around government contracts to support themselves, typically because government contracts offer very little margin of profit.
Government agencies frequently offer local incentives to show their appreciation for those who pay their bills and provide the revenues that allow them to function. For example, schools offer lower tuition for local students, Museums offer local discounts that non-locals do not get, the Heber Railroad offers local discounts, and none of them are accused of adhering to the “Good old boy system.” It is common sense to offer discounts to those that are local and who are the main source of your income.
This policy also encourages non-local businesses that want to do business in Heber City to relocate or set up shop in Heber, so they can be a part of our local vender preference and be a part of a City that is business friendly. Relocation of these businesses to Heber would build our economic tax base as well.
The short-sighted practice of selecting the lowest qualified bid without considering where the bidding company is located or where their employees live is to the detriment of the economic vitality of Heber City.
This local preference policy will help small businesses that are the backbone of Heber City’s economy.
I hope that the other members of the city council will continue to support business friendly principles like this and take the necessary steps to help local companies, by buying local. The city needs to set the example by buying local first.
In March 2013 the city council voted 4 to 1 to increase the culinary water rates of Heber City residents. Mine was the only vote against this rate increase. There was also a vote on a secondary irrigation water rate increase that resulted in a vote of 3 to 2 in favor of the increase; which Councilman Mergist joined me in opposing.
Since that vote, some have questioned why I voted against those increases. Here are some of the more common questions I have heard, followed by my answers to provide further clarification.
Question: Are you for improving the deteriorating systems?
I agree that it is important to perform the necessary maintenance and replacement required on our current water systems. I would include this principle of depreciation in “recovering your costs.” The cost of this upkeep should be included in the cost to consumers, this will allow for appropriate cost recovery.
Question: How do we pay for maintenance and depreciation of the system?
I am not opposed to maintaining the infrastructure in place; in-fact the utility basis approach I support would allow us to more reliably plan for those expenses. Under the cash basis method, or ” hybrid” method, that we currently use we are required to finance these capital projects with debt, or large rate increases as they occur. The utility basis method would allow us to put aside a specific amount of money from the current rates to cover future replacement and maintenance requirements. The advantage of this method is that it provides greater predictability, and fewer sudden rate hikes.
Question: I read the city council minutes and it appears that a rate comparison study was conducted, but in your blog you talk about how it was not conducted, can you explain? Also, we have to have a rate that allows the city to have revenue during dry and wet years. It seems to me that a flat rate would be the most equitable to all members of the city, why don’t we take that approach?
I should explain that rate structure and cost method are separate ideas and mustn’t be confused. The cost method is used to determine what revenue requirements must be met, while the rate structure addresses the problem of finding the most equitable way of obtaining revenue. In your comment you referred to a flat rate which is a rate structure, not a cost method. The issue I have largely been discussing is that of a utility basis cost method.
Personally, I prefer the inclining block rate structure for determining rates and the utility based method for determining revenue requirements. The inclining block rate structure requires that individuals who use significantly more water than others pay proportionately for the increased wear they induce on the system. It also provides a strong incentive to individuals to conserve water. I feel it is very important to conserve our natural resources, like water, especially considering that we live in a desert state. Although we may have sufficient water for our needs now, we cannot guarantee that we will not encounter a drought in the near future. As for cost methods, I prefer the utility basis for determining revenue requirements because it accounts for depreciation and inflation, and it allows us to plan for future replacement and repair costs.
While the city did contract with Zion’s Bank to perform a rate analysis, the analysis that was done did not properly take into consideration the costs of inflation and the depreciating system. In effect, the rate analysis simply told us what to charge in order to get the amount of money we think we need to run the system. There was no consideration for the particular costs of depreciation or future maintenance. In-fact, when I asked the gentleman from Zion’s Bank if he could perform a utility based analysis of the system he said he had never done one before. I also asked him if the current rate analysis he was using took depreciation into account and he told me “No, it does not.”
One of the main problems I objected to when I voted against this rate increase is that it only addresses short term costs, and does not address the problem of a generational subsidy. Under the current system early generations benefit from not having to pay to replace or repair aging equipment, while later generations are stuck with exorbitant rates to make up for major deficits because of poor planning. I believe that we should be planning for future replacement costs by including the cost of depreciation as a revenue requirement. By not addressing this problem we essentially pass the cost of repairs and replacement on to our children.
I am not opposed to making sure our revenue matches our costs. I am opposed to merely addressing temporary concerns, and perpetuating a system that has failed in the past.
Why I do not support the Water Rates:
Most of my comments on the water and sewer rates are on the audio recordings of these meetings, but the following is an outline of some my thoughts from those meetings.
It was I that asked that a study be done by the city 2 years ago because no one knew what our fixed costs were. I totally support the need for a rate analysis on the water and sewer departments to determine what our recovery costs or rate of return is for the system. The rate of return attempts to recover sufficient funds to replace the assets at some point in the future. Without an appropriate rate of return, customers today are being subsidized by future customers. Finding the Cost of service is critical in understanding your total cost. You must also determine the rate design process, and justify the costs charged to customers. I have no problems in supporting rate adjustments to recover costs of the system if they are justified and the fees are issued based on consumption fairness. What I am not supporting at this time, is the inaccurate rate design process that was used to justify the costs to charge customers.
The issue’s I have with the culinary rate study that was presented to the city council are:
1- I disagree on the cost based methods or the hybrid form used to determine the revenue requirements of the water system. There are two methods used by the industry to determine rates: one is the Cash-based method which almost every city uses because it is easy for elected officials and the public to follow. It attempts to match cash inflows and outflows on a yearly basis, but it is not generally accepted by courts if the rates are challenged. The second method is the Utility-based method. This method is used through the industry by utility companies because it leads to more stable and consistent rate adjustments, and typically leads to a more financially stable and healthy utility company. This is a system where the rate of return is used to identify the level of operating income needed.
2- The method used by the company that the city hired out to determine the rates for the city, tends to result in unstable rates, and leads to large rate adjustments in the future. It also conceals potential rate problems and revenue deficiencies because it is based on cash inflows and outflows. This is the existing problem with the old rate system the city was using for water rates.
3- I feel that the base fee for the fixed administrative cost was manipulated to reflect a targeted amount of revenue stream. The fee did not reflect the true hard fixed costs of the administrative fee that need to be charged to the consumer. The administrative costs should be designed to recover distribution costs that do not vary; unfortunately, this was not the way it was set up.
4- The water usage fee of per 1000 gallons, as it is now, is being used to subsidize some of the fixed administrative costs. You need to decouple the administrative fixed cost from the variable usage costs. The recovery costs for usage should NOT be producing the major portion of the revenues to support the system. If the revenues for usage are producing the majority of your recovery cost, then the system is set up to fail. This was the problem the city faced a few years ago when the city was short over $500,000 in their water funds because the system was set up on usage for revenues to support the system, and when the usage went down, so did the revenues. We were then unable to pay for the systems recovery costs.
Some of My thoughts on the Secondary Irrigation Rates:
I agree that the secondary water fee should be adjusted to the size of the lot as the city has put in place because it accounts for the potential usage of the water by the consumer. The city has different lot size fees that account for the potential amount of water usage by the consumer, but the city has not accounted for the different scenarios of water users.
One such case is for those that have given their water share, worth thousands of dollars, to the city without charge. However, the city has not adjusted their water fee as they should have, taking into account the free water share that these individuals have given to the city. These citizens who gave their water shares to the city for free are now unfairly being charged for their water, when they should only be charged a fixed Operation and Administration cost for using the system and not for the water usage amount.
I asked for and had hoped that city council would have taken the time to bring in someone who had actual hands-on experience in running a secondary irrigation system. Then this person could have shared their professional experiences with the council concerning how to accurately run an irrigation system, how to fairly adjust fees for different scenarios for the water users, and how to develop a long term water usage strategic plan for the consumers and the city. Unfortunately, none of this critical information was available to us because the Rate Analysis “Expert” that was chosen had no experience in this field. We needed to hire someone who has run a water system before, someone who could educate us and help us make an intelligent and accurate assessment of what to do, as none of the council members have this necessary background or experience to make such an important decision.
As we approach the coming of another fiscal year for the city, the City Council, Mayor, and the director of Finance (Mark Anderson), as well as the department heads, have been going over the 2012-13 proposed budgets. The 2012-13 tentative fiscal budget required by state code was passed and put in place at the Heber City Council meeting on May 3, 2012. This is only a tentative budget, which means it can still be adjusted by the council. The Final budget for Heber City is expected to be adopted at public hearing on June 21, 2012, if no tax increases are proposed in the budget.
To begin with, I would like to give an update on the current financial condition of the City. The city continues to have good revenue streams in the form of sales tax, building permits, fine revenue, and additional revenue from Heber Light & Power Dividends. These revenues coming in are consistent with the revenues the city received back in 2008. The city has not been in the position to fund its expenses based on current revenue sources since the recession began in 2007. This fiscal year, the city’s revenue is projected not only to meet the projected expenses, but to slightly increase as well. The Director of Finance, Mark Anderson, has even stated that he will not be proposing a property tax increase to fund the coming year’s budget.
However, the County could still adjust the city’s certified tax rate so that the city can maintain its fixed property tax revenue of $755,000/year. This would then cause your City Property Tax payment to go up, but the Heber City Council is not proposing any additional property taxes for this coming budget year. There is no need for the City Council to raise your property taxes to fund the up coming budget because of the solid revenue stream that came in from last year; and I expect that property taxes will remain the same during the coming year.
Even though the revenue stream is looking better than it has in the past few years, the council is also carefully reviewing requested additional expenses to fund the departments of the city to ensure that they do not exceed what we currently have in revenues. Personally, I approach the budget by first making sure the revenues available cover our current fixed expenses. Once all the current fixed expenses are covered, I look at what surplus revenues we have received from the past year to fund the new additional expenses the department heads and city manager are requesting. I know the amount that I feel comfortable with to fund additional expenses, and once we reach that limit, I feel the funding should stop. I do not want to put us in a position where we are forced to raise property taxes in order to fund requests that may not be necessities. I do recognize that some of the requests from the departments are legitimate needs and have been for a couple of years. But it was not until this year that we had the extra revenue to fund some of the projects and department heads’ requests. Some examples of requests have included replacing the roof on the old social hall, replacing worn out equipment, updating our computer systems, purchasing new additional equipment to maintain services of the Public Works and Parks departments, etc. The police department continues to have the need for up to date technology, more modern equipment, and new vehicles to put on the road. The cost for the City to provide for the public safety of the Citizens of Heber amounts to 43% of our total budget. This is money well spent, but as a member of the council, I have deep concerns regarding how we will continue to find funding for the increasing cost of public safety.
The Unreserved General Fund this past year reached a high of $1.5 million, which is a substantial increase from the $833,000 balance that was left in this account from last year. That’s a 700K boost in new revenues coming into the city. However, this boost was accomplished not only by increased revenues, but by holding down expenses during the 2011-12 fiscal year. The city also has over $1.5 million in its other Non-restrictive Fund Accounts for the city council to use at its discretion to fund expenses of the city as needed. As the State auditor pointed out in his audit report last year to the city, Heber City is financial stable and has very little debt.
For the fiscal year of 2012-13 the proposed tentative budget has the projected revenue totals at $ 4,731,900.00, which is about $ 74,000 more than last year. The current projected expenses for the city are at $4,731,900.00, which is about $265,000 less than last year.
The city council will use some of the extra revenue from its non-reserved general fund account to help fund the 2012-13 budget, and also in order for the city to stay in compliance with state code. State code requires that a city cannot have more than 18% in the unreserved general fund and no less than 5%. The amount from the percentages that can be held in this account are based on projected revenues that come in from Transportation Tax, Class C Road Funds and what the city is currently projecting in revenues. For the coming year, the City is projecting its revenue amount to be about $5,400,000; which means that the maximum amount the city may have in the unreserved general fund is a maximum of $972,000, and a minimum of $270,000. The council must look at reducing the $1.5 million in the non-reserved general fund in order to stay in compliance with the state code, and by doing so, it will also fund the budget for the coming fiscal year.
A few new employees will be added to the city’s employee list this coming year; namely a code enforcement officer, police patrol officer, part-time airport manager, and one public works employee.
Since I joined the city council 2 years ago, I have pushed to have a rate analysis performed on the sewer and water departments. The reason I have asked for this analysis was that no one could tell me what the actual costs were for the city to run the services. The good news is that the city has hired a consulting firm to help us understand and know what the fixed costs are to run the water department and the sewer department. This information is in the process of being compiled so the city will know more accurately what to charge for its services to its customers.
Over the past year the council has been very generous to the employees by giving them merit increases, COLA’s, and covering their increased cost in insurance benefits. The council has also funded several of the departments needed requests this year for equipment and repairs. I feel that the council has taken care of the majority of the city’s needs in this years budget with the exception of the needs of the tax payers of Heber City. Therefore, I have asked the council to use some of it remaining surplus general fund revenues to pay part of the cost of its fees the city charges for its water and sewer. This would be giving the citizens a tax break in their fees with the city.
In taking care of the needs of the city, I feel it is important to remember the needs of those who fund the city. I believe that it is only when we place the needs of the people first that we are able to build a strong, viable, and prosperous community.
On Saturday May 12, 2012 at the Heber City Police Department Building located at 75 North Main Street. There is a Kid’s Health and Safety Fair starting at 10:00am to 2:00pm There will be free ID Kits, Free Blood Glucose Screenings, Free Blood Pressure Screenings, and lots of other free services. Safety demonstrations on ATV’s, Car Seats, Backpacking self-defense and much more. The admission is FREE, so bring your family down to enjoy a day with the Wasatch EMS, County Fire Department, Heber Hospital, Wasatch County Health Department and are own great Heber City Police officers. For more information log onto heberhospital.org or call 435-657-3260 county health department.