The following is an extended version of the State of the City address:
I am pleased to bring you the State of the City address. As I reflect on the year 2014, I am exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to serve Eagle Mountain City and the residents that call it home. While this year has been full of challenges, it has been just as full of victories. Before we consider the accomplishments of the year, I want to take a moment to remember the life and sacrifice of Sergeant Cory Wride of our Utah County Sheriff’s Office. Sergeant Wride was murdered as he stopped to provide assistance to what was believed to be a stranded motorist. Sergeant Wride served our community faithfully for nearly four years and we will forever honor his memory. We are honored to preserve Sergeant Wride’s memory and legacy of love, family, and community through the park that now carries his name (formerly Mid-Valley Park).
We welcomed home our very own Olympian this year. Noelle Pikus-Pace returned from the Sochi Olympics with a silver medal in women’s skeleton. Where most Olympic athletes train and compete on intense schedules which could easily fragment families, Noelle and her husband Janson decided to pursue the dream together as a family unit. We are proud of the Pace family for Noelle’s accomplishments on the track, and for their dedication to placing family above all else.
I believe that the family unit is in many ways the foundation of Eagle Mountain’s identity. The median age of our resident is 19.9 according to recent census data. That low number is a result of the appeal Eagle Mountain has for young families. Our young demographic can be seen best in our youth sports programs. This year we had 865 children participate in our fall soccer, 769 for baseball, 879 for Jr. Jazz basketball, and in the first year of its offering, 710 children played spring soccer. That is over 3,200 children that played on over 275 teams with just as many parents volunteering their time to coach the teams.
Because Eagle Mountain has so much to offer young families, we are one of the fastest growing cities in the State. With our history of rapid growth and our projections of continued growth, it seemed fitting to take a fresh look at where we want to be 10 years and more down the road. At 26,000 residents, the time is now to review our plans for the future. In 2014 we invested heavily in our planning efforts. We compiled a master transportation plan to identify existing assets and levels of service along with future corridors and expectations for roads and transit options. Because transportation needs are changing in the country, we integrated a bike and pedestrian master plan for our trails. These efforts will help us to manage our existing resources as well as setting a future course that will reduce the cost of projects by identifying tomorrow’s needs and protecting rights of way. We were also successful in working with UDOT to secure funds for protecting rights of way for the future expansion of Cory Wride Highway.
Eagle Mountain offers far more than great home prices. We have assets in our clean air, our starry nights, and our natural beauty. These assets may even have been what drew you to live in Eagle Mountain. These things make Eagle Mountain unique and are a considerable part of the value of our community. For this reason we have passed a dark sky ordinance which will require new development to meet certain standards of lighting. Without sacrificing safety, this new development code prevents the sky glow seen all along the Wasatch front and preserves the night skies which have become part of Eagle Mountain’s identity.
As the value and charm of Eagle Mountain draws more people, the cost of building and maintaining our transportation infrastructure will cause considerable strain on budgets. With the inadequate tax revenues generated from gas tax, we have relied on our General Fund to supplement the maintenance budget. In 2014, we made a large investment in two of our primary roads. Pony Express Parkway and Ranches Parkway received much needed attention in order to extend the service life and reduce future cost. The remaining section of Pony Express Parkway will be included on the 2015-2016 budget for council consideration. We must continue seeking solutions to adequately fund road maintenance in the interest of preventing the greater future expenses of road replacement.
Presently, Eagle Mountain’s budget is funded heavily by residential property tax and sales tax which is distributed to us from a State pool based on our population. Our finance department has once again been recognized with awards from the Government Finance Officers Association for our budget and our annual financial report. While we will continue to make conservative revenue projections and be intentional with tax payer’s money, we must pursue economic development to bolster property tax and build in support for retail development. Due to these efforts, we hope to be sharing some significant success stories in 2015. 2014 was not without it’s own economic development successes. We saw a number of new businesses open up shop in Eagle Mountain this year. From our new grocery store to tax services, optometrist, fitness studios and daycare, I’d consider 2014 to be a success for our local businesses and our economy. I encourage each of you to support local businesses. They are truly an important part of our economy. You to take a look at our local business directory here.
In order to offer long term value to residents, we have taken on the monumental task of selling our gas and electric utilities. Under the pressures of rapid population growth and increasingly volatile energy markets, these transactions aim to capture the benefits of our new utility providers’ more sophisticated energy management resources with the promise of greater customer price stability. As an added benefit, Eagle Mountain will pay off over $26 million dollars in debt. This represents over 50% of our total City debt.
We placed a renewed emphasis on elected officials communicating directly with the public.Through this blog, I made efforts to keep you up to date with what we were working on and why. We also started recording the work session of the city council meetings and offering them on our YouTube channel to further increase transparency. We contracted with a new website provider with a more advanced content management system to offer a more user-friendly web and mobile experience and decrease the amount of staff time spent on site management. We continue to improve the ways we communicate with residents, and we will seek to do so in ways that are meaningful to each of you.
We introduced a series of interactive maps for residents to use to look up anything from schools, churches, city buildings, parks, and homes. Anyone can click on a house and find out the address, the schools their kids would attend, the garbage and recycling days, the voting location, lot size, and other information. The Park Finder map helps residents locate a park or recreation facility and obtain information about each facility. You can find those maps here.
Communication isn’t only important for residents, it’s important for employees and departments, as well as developers and builders. That is why I am so excited about some of the significant gains we made in internal processes. One of the most impactful accomplishments we made was to create a new way of keeping track of our development process. With changes we made, our departments can better manage the many developments occurring within the city simultaneously, and providing real time information back to developers and builders. This is not only more efficient for employees, but it requires less time from our customers to follow up on the development process.
As Eagle Mountain grows, so do the needs of our future infrastructure. We must always stay one step ahead of the needs and the only way to do that is to use accurate projections. City staff have created a tool to help keep those projections up to date and accurate with every building permit we issue. Not only will this decrease the effort needed in preparing growth and population projections, it will also ensure that all future infrastructure planning relies on up-to-date and accurate building permit and population projection information.
Our public works department completed a tremendous amount of work this year and made great strides in preparing Eagle Mountain for the population growth that is heading our way. In one of the largest public works projects in our history, we completed and began using the new pump station and waterline from the CWP project. This project added a major new source of water supply to the City. The project also gives the water system greater redundancy. After the water tank break in, we are pleased to report that all tanks, and well pump houses are equipped with security measures and monitoring.
In an effort to make our community more complete, City staff from multiple departments pulled together to build a cemetery for the loved ones we have lost to rest in peace. Staff did an exceptional job to design and record the property, plan and install the irrigation, and build a road for the first phase of the project. The cemetery is already in use and available for the purchase of plots.
Our parks department took on the daunting task of converting irrigation heads to the same make and model for ease of training, maintenance, inventory, and cost reduction. They also worked in concert with other state and local agencies and secured a grant to preserve our western heritage of the Pony Express Trail. We then installed historical markers and kiosks pertaining to the trail system along with signage throughout the city. From directions to education, signs mark the way along the historic Pony Express Trail which is now a prominent feature of our community.
Nowhere is our growth more apparent than in our building department. At a grand total of 585 building permits with 363 of those being for new residential, we see a clear trend from last year. This year our building department worked under a tight timeline to help the non-profit rodeo committee open for the first rodeo to be held under the new organization. By the end of the year, the staff had completed 4,262 inspections!
Your local library began some cool programs this year. A partnership with Kids on the Move couples music with movement for kids of all abilities form babies to age four. In an innovative initiative, our library partnered with the Junior Library Guild to collect funds from long overdue library fines and used those funds to purchase youth library books at discounted rates. The library also increased hours of operation on Tuesdays and Thursdays to 7:00 PM. With all those new programs and the old programs including the fifteen year running annual summer reading event, we saw an increase of almost 1,600 new library card holders.
Our recorder’s office expertly kept the deluge of development straight while taking on other projects as well. The Joint Land Use Study was completed in partnership with Camp Williams and other local municipalities. Eagle Mountain applied for and was awarded a grant of over $200,000 which was used to complete the study. The study is significant not only to Eagle Mountain, but also to every community in proximity to Camp Williams.
Some other interesting stats for you:
Our firefighters responded to over 670 medical and fire calls, participated in several military welcome home processions, supported Santa on the fire truck, the tree lighting ceremony, the Easter egg hunt, and many other events important to the community.
Our Utah County deputies responded to 4,492 dispatched calls for service, conducted 3,423 traffic stops, issued 1,039 traffic citations, served 40 warrants, and made 353 physical arrests.
Our City Recorder issued 111 new business licenses, completed 295 renewals, processed 11 GRAMA requests, executed 53 agreements, posted 44 public notices, processed 21 insurance claims, completed 182 notarizations, and recorded 27 subdivision plats.
Our events department completed Pony Express Days under budget and spent less than $25,000 even after employee wages paid in support of the events!
Public works picked up and recycled 2,330 bags of leaves, and installed 417 new water meters, repaired or replaced 106 water meters. 1,657,900,339 gallons of water flowed through our pipes in 2014. 9.9 lane miles of new asphalt was laid, including 58,313 square feet of paving and patching. 59,525 pounds of crack seal was laid on our roadways and 34,000 square yards of asphalt was milled and filled along Pony Express Parkway. 107,000 square yards of chip seal was laid on Ranches Parkway and Pony Express,
Our parks department removed six vertical feet of sediment in the reshaping of the Hidden Canyon Park. For that same project, 121,000 square feet of sod was laid.
Utility billing staff processed 1,774 cash payments, 19,702 checks, received 58,829 online payments for a total of over 80,000 transactions covering over $21,000,000.
We took some big steps in 2014 and we have positive momentum carrying us into 2015. We are excited for the year ahead and we will continue our dedication to keeping you informed every step of the way.