Spending Utility Proceeds

For several public meetings now, the City Council and I have been discussing the topic of spending the utility sale proceeds. As you may imagine, there are many varying opinions as to how the proceeds should be spent. At this time I would like to do two things. First, I would like to give insight into what has been discussed thus far (in brief form) and what considerations are being made for the long term impact of the investments we make. Second, I want to solicit your feedback on what specifically you would like to see. And if you would like to participate in the discussion in person, you may attend tonight’s meeting and make public comment. We welcome your feedback.

In short form, City Council and I began our discussion by identifying every conceivable project that we saw a need for. We did this over a number of months. This list included a wide variety of projects. Building missing sections of trails, landscaping, upgrades to the irrigation system in The Ranches, paying off additional debt, and investment in Cory Wride Memorial Park are just a few of the projects. We have utilized feedback from the recent Citizens’ Survey and other sources to assemble this list.

At this time, we have done quite a bit of work to narrow down the field of potential projects, though we aren’t finished yet. There seems to be universal support for investing money in Cory Wride Memorial Park, though to what degree remains to be determined. Paying off debt, though an attractive concept, has proven to be a non-starter due to call periods on bonds, and timelines of repayment that would result in a reduced purchasing power of the money (a reduction of value to you). Landscaping improvements for City Center and correcting the water on the roads in The Ranches both seem to have support, along with some trail completion projects. We hope to get deeper into the details tonight and I expect good discussion to take place.

Overall, there is approximately fourteen to fifteen million dollars that will be spent in the coming years. The timeline for the investments and the priority of the projects is as of yet undetermined, but moving forward I feel safe in saying on behalf of the City Council, that we are all aware that these decisions will have a long term impact on not only the look and feel of our City, but also on the long term budget required to maintain whatever investments we decide to make. I also feel safe in saying that each of the City Council members are determined to appropriate the funds toward the projects that will have the greatest benefit to the community at large.

From my perspective, the investment of these funds is an opportunity that we cannot and will not squander. If we invest these funds appropriately, the value this community offers to residents will only increase. We are in a position to change our future, and I am excited at the prospect of what we can accomplish for your benefit. I do hope that you will feel free to comment, ask questions, and share your thoughts with me as we continue in this process.

15 thoughts on “Spending Utility Proceeds

  1. What would be the possibility of returning this money to citizens (since a big portion of it is what was left in our gas/elec funds) hence amounts we had paid into these utilities?

    Also, what would be the possibility of doing an online survey, or one people can mail in with utility payment, or something in order for citizens to be able to take a vote on where they would like the money to be spent?

    • I agree with Ashly that the citizens should be the direct beneficiaries of retiring the utilities debt, though I’d prefer to see a reduction in taxes that will have a much larger impact on helping Eagle Mountain transition from a bedroom community to a viable center of economic activity. The aggregate increase to household income ought to attract more businesses to Eagle Mountain.

      • Decrease in taxes works for me too!
        I just want to make sure we do what the majority wants, if that is $7 million to a park, then I’m all for it. I think we need to be careful how we spend the money, and not rush to any decisions and would love to see a survey, etc. where we can all see what others are voting for!

        Another question – when does this money have to be spent by? How long can we hold onto it?

    • Ashly, great suggestions. I think you are right about soliciting information for things people would like to see the money spend on. Our original intent was to get the list narrowed down and then to present something to the public so the process was not so wide open. At this point though, I’m not certain that was the best approach. We will open it to a wider audience now to get the most feedback possible.

      Last night City Council did approve a preliminary list. We will be bringing the list back before the city council in December along with all feedback from residents and we will incorporate those ideas. Of course we have relied on citizen feedback to shape the existing list, though I think there are more ideas out there of value. We will likely find that many of the desires of citizens are already represented within the list council and I have been working through. Be that as it may, the existing list does not account for the spending of every dollar, there is still over a million dollars to spend even without adjusting the list, though after citizen feedback, I’m sure the list will be amended in some way.

      As for paying the funds back to residents directly, I have considered this approach on the recommendation of you and other residents. To give the bottom line up front, this would not be a viable solution. The logistics of identifying who is eligible for a distribution, how much should be distributed to them, and then locating and contacting each individual are impractical if not impossible. I simply see no way in which we could distribute the funds equitably.

      When considering what the funds would have been used for had we not sold the utilities, these funds would not be available. This in in essence equity that was stored in the infrastructure of the system which was provided value to existing and future residents that would have connected to the system. The most equitable use of the funds therefore should do exactly the same. These funds should provide equity to the existing and future residents.

      Eagle Mountain residents have been expressing their dissatisfaction with a number of community concerns, and these funds provide an opportunity for the community to grow, and to remedy many of those long standing concerns, which seems to me the most equitable way to distribute the value of these funds to benefit everybody. Just as the equity was stored in the infrastructure when we had the utilities, so will the equity be reinvested in “infrastructure”, though certainly in a more meaningful and tangible way for most residents. I know there has been and will be some disagreement with this position, which I respect. I hope that helps shed light on my personal position.

      • Is there any way that you could post the preliminary list of the items and how much is planned (preliminary) to go to each.

        When you say that won’t spend all the money and will leave $1 million – what number is that going off? Is that assuming we will get the full $15 million (which is a preliminary number), or is that going off the $14 million? (I know it’s been said we will have approx $14-15 million but we won’t know an exact number until the audit).

        Thank you,

        Ashly

  2. I like the concept of returning proceeds to the citizens but I can see many logistical problems with that making it unworkable. Also the amount returned would be very small per household. I would like to see it used to reduce the need for future “required” projects and to reduce the need for future tax and utility rate increases for city services. We have been under excessive debt. for many years. Our city government has done a good job of getting us out from under much of it with the gas and electric sales. There is no need to just “spend it.”

    • David,

      At this moment, we are in the best financial position we have ever been in as a City. I say this completely aside from the cash we have from the utility sale proceeds. Through conservative budgeting, strong revenue growth, and an intentional push to invest in wise infrastructure projects over the last two years, I am quite comfortable with the position we are in. That isn’t to say that we have any room to rest, or to loose focus. From a perspective of investing in projects that will prevent future expenses, roads and water will continue to be the focus. We will need to continue improving those assets through our normal budgeting process, Some of the utility sale proceeds have been used to fund road projects, though it is unlikely that additional funds will be used for this purpose. Having said that, we have a very strong capital facilities budget which will continue to see investments in road projects. We are dedicated to digging our of the road maintenance deficit we found ourselves in as result of the economic downturn. The intent is to get every infrastructure system (especially roads) on a 5 year or similar maintenance cycle. This is the sustainable approach and saves money over the long term. Last night, we did allocate 3.2 million dollars for a water project to upgrade and expand service on the north end of the City. This was done in lieu of issuing more debt. It will stretch us, but it will also pressure us into managing our operations efficiently. I think that is a good thing. I hope this is helpful.

  3. I think expenditures should be based on immediate impact as well. A simple stop light for example near one of the entrances to the large and growing Silverlake subdivision would greatly improve the daily commute of those who have a difficult time getting out of the subdivision in the morning and those who are having cars bolting out in front of them as they pass they subdivision. As a community that largely commutes that feels significant.

    • Calvin,

      thank you for your comments. while we did remove the line item for a traffic signal for the Silverlake area from the utility sale proceeds programming, council was clear that they would like to see this be added into the budget which we have done. I still can’t give an exact timeline on when this will happen, though I can tell you that internal discussions will be taking place to now determine the timeline for that project to take place.

  4. I would like to see real bathrooms at parks where games for the city’s recreation programs are played. The porta potties look trashy and have an awful smell, especially in the summer months.

    • Jen,

      I’m happy to report that council placed a line item on the list to fund bathrooms for Smith Ranch Park, Pioneer Park, Walden Park, and the Bike Park (If I recall correctly). Cory Wride will also see parks as part of the overall building of that park.

  5. Emergency Preparedness. Could we put a little of it towards this. For example, do city buildings have emergency generators? Do we own the two fire stations? Do they have generators? How long would our water supply last in an emergency? Would getting another tank be worthwhile? Do we have a rainy day fund? Does the CERT need funding?

    • Tim,

      Great ideas. At the request of Councilman Tom Westmorelend, we added a line item for a generator for one of our main wells last night. This will serve dual purposes. It will first allow us to start the wells under generator power, thus saving the City demand charges on our power consumption, (a lot of money), and secondly, it would give us the capability to run the well off of generator power if needed. We are also working on plans to incorporate more native plant species with a focus on edible plants into our landscape. Heaven forbid we ever find ourselves in the position of having to live off of our landscaping, though It would be nice to know that we are growing food in our landscaping should the dire need ever arise. More to come on that concept. Our emergency manager, Ikani, has been building our CERT team and has just concluded with a training program which brought in new members. That training was paid for and we will continue to develop that program. I know there is more to be done here, but we are heading in the right direction and Ikani has done a LOT to move us forward. We intend to continue moving forward with this and are excited about the direction we are headed. We don’t foresee funding being a barrier to progress at this point. Our City builidings do have backup generators. I will check on the Fire Stations.

  6. I would love to see an off-leash dog park. There have been a few of us that have expressed this desire and there are many residents of Eagle Mountain with dogs. Eagle Mountain is so far out of the way that even the poorly constructed Willow dog park in Lehi is very far away. Having a local dog park in Eagle Mountain would benefit a lot of residents. It would be wonderful to have it constructed like the dog park in West Jordan.

  7. Although there are a multitude of great ideas that this money could be used for, specifically regarding Cory Wride Park I would suggest touring the city park that was recently completed at Riverton City. They have incorporated basketball courts, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, a splash pad, a beach volleyball court, covered patios, picnic areas, a running trail, and large open space for anything you could imagine. With all of these amenities they have been able to offer their residents leagues, both co-ed and not, in tennis, pickle ball, and volleyball. I would love to see this for our residents here. I think outdoor beach volleyball leagues, pickle ball leagues, etc are a great way to expound on outdoor activities in our city. If that doesn’t suit you then play frisbee or football in the open space, or run/walk on the trail, or take your kids to the splash pad, or sit in the covered patios and people watch. Not sure on the cost but I feel like Riverton did it right. Regardless, I think the council has done well in exploring all their options.

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