State of The City

Residents of Eagle Mountain City, it is my great pleasure to share with you once again the State of our City.  I want to begin by acknowledging an important milestone.  Eagle Mountain will celebrate our twentieth birthday this year.  As we look forward to 2016 and the blessings that await us, let us also remember the public servants who have gone before us.  In 2015, former Eagle Mountain City Council Member and Mayor, Robert Bateman passed away.  Robert served as mayor from 1998 to 2000, and served a crucial role in forming the backbone of our city government.  We thank him for his service and offer our condolences to his wife Candy, and to his children.

2015 was a transformative year for our city in many ways.  Utah’s economy had another pace-setting year, which translated into northern Utah County’s continued growth. Within north Utah County, Eagle Mountain continues to offer exceptional value for homebuyers interested in buying a little slice of heaven.  Developers remain just as eager as ever to invest their capital in Eagle Mountain.  Developers recorded twenty-three plats in 2015, the majority of those being dedicated to building residential units. This continued investment has resulted in considerable new housing inventory in 2015, as reflected in the 490 new residential building permits that were issued.  We are now also seeing an emerging commercial market in Eagle Mountain.  Precious People Day Care Center, Domino’s Pizza, Sunset Storage & RV, Central Utah Clinic, Ace Rents, and the Questar Western Regional Offices Building were all granted building permits this year.  It is truly an exciting time to watch our economic development successes unfold in front of our eyes.

Eagle Mountain is in fact in the best financial position of our twenty-year history.  There is a universal rule in financial management:  cash is king.  A strong cash balance enables us to operate from a position of financial strength.  We should strive to manage our cash position carefully and to keep our reserves strong.  Currently, Eagle Mountain City has the maximum “rainy day fund” allowed under state law (25% of budgeted revenues).  This money coupled with the proceeds from the sale of our gas and electric utilities places us in an enviable position.  Our strong financial position has allowed us to make many meaningful investments, which will continue into our next budget cycle.  We were able to complete significant road projects such as Mt. Airey, Half Mile Road, Sunset Drive, Pony Express Parkway from Sandpiper Drive to Ranches Parkway, and others.  We were also able to make significant park improvements.  Our parks department completed two remaining acres of Pioneer Park, completed landscaping at SilverLake Amphitheater, repaired and improved the skate park, and built a new fitness park in City Center.

There are three ways which we can use our financial strength to directly benefit our residents.  First and foremost, we can focus our spending on completing long-needed projects, many of which are remnants from years when our City did not have the luxury of significant cash balances.  These projects span many categories such as completing the unfinished portion of Bobby Wren Blvd, completing various sections of missing trail to bring connectivity, and completing street side landscaping throughout City Center.

Secondly, we can invest in new amenities and make improvements to existing amenities.  Projects such as building restrooms at City parks, building unique and functional features at Cory Wride Memorial Park, and upgrading medians along Pony Express and Ranches parkway to water-wise landscapes are all worthy investments which will improve the brand equity of Eagle Mountain.

As we make these investments, we will do so with prudence, ensuring that the expense of caring for these amenities fits well within our existing budget, and without depleting our cash balance.

Lastly, we can use our financial strength to insulate and protect us from any economic downturns.  Managing and maintaining our cash balance at or near the State-allowed 25% of budgeted revenues will ensure that any economic downturn will not result in immediate cuts to services.  In the event of economic downturn, this strategy will allow Eagle Mountain the time it needs to make sound strategic decisions after careful deliberation.  The best time to make important decisions, after all, is when you don’t have to.

With the support of City Council, we will remain on this path of sound financial stewardship and fiscal restraint.  To our residents, I wish to communicate clearly that the investments we are making now and will continue to make in our parks, roads, trails and other amenities, are a product of fiscal restraint and sound financial stewardship.

Eagle Mountain is a special place.  The natural beauty of this high desert is unique and breathtaking.  From the jackrabbits, to the night skies, the raptors, and the painted sunsets, we have something special that cannot be purchased or created.  It is our responsibility to protect and preserve these natural treasures.  The natural habitat around us is what makes us who we are, and is far too valuable to take for granted.  This year, much was done to protect these resources, which are part of our identity.  Two accomplishments stand out.  First, in partnership with concerned citizens, members of City staff worked to create a historic preservation code.  This code establishes guidelines for cataloging historical artifacts and creates a system to incentivize private property owners to protect and preserve our history.  Some of Eagle Mountain’s treasured petroglyphs have already been preserved under this code.

Preserving our natural beauty extends to our birds of prey, too.  This year a resident by the name of Shon Reed worked with Austin Robinson, an Eagle Scout, to build nest boxes for American Kestrels.  Shon also worked with Brian Smith from Rocky Mountain Power to get utility poles in the ground for mounting the nest boxes to.  He also organized volunteers to place these boxes throughout the City.  The next step is to get those boxes on a map so residents can observe the birds as they use the poles and boxes.  This work is a testament to the selflessness of the people who live here.

Just like the stewardship of our financial resources, we will be taking intentional steps to take care of our water resources, too.  While we do have enough water to grow well into the future, the right thing to do is to be mindful of our environment and to manage our water as efficiently as possible.  We are now working with Utah State University to implement new software to help manage our landscape irrigation better.  The days of accepting water on the roads are over and this will begin with better management tools, and with investment in the landscape medians.  It will take time to solve all of the problems, but we will start with the work this year.

Whether investing in water-wise landscaping, placing American Kestrel nest boxes, or building unique new park amenities, our efforts are all aimed to build value into our community and into our brand.  Eagle Mountain is a special place with a lot of appeal.  The fact that we aren’t like other cities is an asset if we allow it to be, and hopefully you agree that we want to keep everything special about Eagle Mountain just as it has been for the last twenty years.

There are so many wonderful things ahead for Eagle Mountain this year.  So many in fact, that I have hardly scratched the surface in this address.  The fact is that we are in times of abundance such that we have never before encountered.  Our future is bright and it is an honor to have the opportunity to shepherd this great City into 2016 and beyond.  We truly live in the greatest City in the State.  God bless America, God bless Utah, and God bless every resident of Eagle Mountain City.

For a list of some of our accomplishments click here. Thanks to all of our employees for another wonderful year. Without them, Eagle Mountain wouldn’t be the success story that it is today.

15 thoughts on “State of The City

  1. What an amazing mayor we have. Our city has never been so well cared for, without political strife and finally a truly wonderful place to live.

    • Thank you mayor for helping the city be so financially sound. I was hoping that you had a wreck center planed out for our citizens. I have loved all the amenities set for the children of eagle mountain since a lot of young family have moved out here but I feel like their is not a lot of amenities for older families. A wreck center would be able to offer more of these things for families with older children.

      • Jennifer, thanks for the kind words. As for the recreation center, you are not alone in your desire to see one in our community. I think it is probably time for me to write up a separate blog post to tell everyone what the realities are on this issue. For now, I’ll give you the basic details on this subject. I agree that a rec center would be nice, but it must fit within the budget without damaging our ability to provide roads, critical infrastructure, and public safety at a high level. If we build a rec center but it means we cant maintain our roads, the rec center won’t be very successful. We are doing everything we can to focus on our foundational community needs before we start investing in our wants. There is one circumstance that I would be willing to invest in a recreation center, and that is if we pay for or participate in paying for the facility, then turn it over to a private entity to be run for the benefit of our residents. The details of that transaction are of course very important. The rate charged for residents to use the rec center would need to be reasonable.

        I know that the residents want a rec center very much. The most common question I am asked is, “When are we going to get a rec center?” With that question burning in my mind, our staff has worked hard to find a solution through a private/public partnership. We have had multiple meetings with two separate entities to get into the details of a potential deal. We have done our due diligence in an effort to make something work. In both circumstances, the financial burden was simply not something I could support in good conscience. I can provide more detailed numbers when I write up a blog post, but for now, those are the high level details.

        I’ll end with this. I am not opposed to a rec center and we will keep our eyes out for opportunities to make something work that doesn’t require us to charge more in taxes, but I can tell you that from the work we have already done, the numbers just don’t work out that way no matte how you slice it. Just as in personal finance, restraint and a well executed financial plan today will allow us to have the things we want later. If we continue on the path we are on, I can see a day when we will meet our needs and have money left over to accommodate a rec center also. To do this, we have to be patient and prudent. I hope that helps.

  2. Mayor, Thanks for the updates. Can the neighborhood pocket parks that have no amenities (grass only parks for the past 6 years) finally have some trees, benches, pavillion, or a playground? Anything really would be terrific for the neighborhood?

    • Last year we spoke at the Economic development golf tourney and you weren’t sure about the situation with these parks. Please make them a priority. Long term residents have been patiently waiting.

      • what steps need to be taken to get a park and pavilion in our neighborhood for our children and neighbors to enjoy? Like so many others enjoy in their neighborhoods. We’ve lived here almost 16 years. What keeps us here is watching the city improve each year.

      • Kelli, Please send me an email to mayor@emcity.org and tell me which park you live near and what it currently has. (pictures are helpful) and then as we work on our budget planning this year and next we can keep the park in mind. I mentioned in my previous response to Sam, we will be rolling out an HOA matching program to make improvements in neighborhood parks. More details will be forthcoming on that program and we will communicate with each of the HOA’s when we are ready to go.

      • Sam, I just replied to your other comment, but I wanted to offer a couple details to illustrate where our priorities are. You are absolutely right by the way. These parks should be a priority in neighborhoods that didn’t get what they bargained for. In City Center specifically, residents have been waiting for about 15 years for trails, parks, and paseos. In 2015 we completed over half a mile of trail that was never put in. This trail connected other trails and a park to make a two neighborhoods completely connected to the trail system. We also installed two acres of turf, trees, and irrigation where dirt previously existed. We completed repairs at the skate park and we installed panels on the all the ramps that were not installed when the park was built. (this was a safety and cosmetic repair) We installed turf and trees at a half finished park in overland trails, and I believe we completed repairs on playground equipment and added soft fall material below the swing set also. There are many other “completion and maintenance” type projects that took place in 2015, and there are more to come in the spring/summer. I look forward to hearing from you on your thoughts for your park. Pictures would be good too if you can take a minute to take a couple. I do want to be clear though, we must work within our staffs ability to manage all of these projects, so I can’t make commitments on how quickly your park will see attention. Just know that we are pushing as hard and as fast as we can with all of these projects and they are happening all over the City, and they are happening in most of our departments. I wish everyone could see how hard our employees are working on all these things at the same time. When it isn’t happening where we see it, the temptation is to assume that nothing is happening, though I want you to know that our employees are really kicking butt, and they will continue to do so. Thanks again for reaching out.

    • Sam, Thanks for the question. Last summer (which is part of the budget year we are currently in) we made improvements to many neighborhood parks. There are many more to go and it is our level of staffing that will dictate how quickly we can do what is needed. There are two ways we can make these improvements. 1. We budget maintenance/improvement dollars into the parks department budget for ongoing upkeep of parks and those dollars can fund things like grass, trees, minor improvements. 2. We have scheduled $1,000,000 for park improvement projects to be worked out with HOA’s and communities that want to contribute matching funds for larger improvements. Either way, my vision for our City is that each neighborhood has a park nearby that kids can play at and families/neighbors will use to get together. If your park has needs, please don’t hesitate to send me an email with some specifics on what you think needs to be addressed and what you and your neighbors would like to see happen. If I know the specifics, I can work with our parks department on priorities and scheduling. The process for the matching will be identified before long so we can keep everything consistent in how we apply matching funds. I hope those details are helpful. My email is mayor@emcity.org. I hope to hear from you soon!

  3. Mayor,
    We appreciate all you are doing for Eagle Mountain. Your studious approach is making EM one of the best places to live. Please remember the roads of Cedar Pass Ranch when you hear than change jingle. They are getting worse by the minute. Thank you!

    Cheryl Karr

    • Cheryl, I promise you have not been forgotten. While I know all roads in Cedar Pass Ranch won’t be fixed in one year, we will be making significant investment in your roads this summer if all goes according to plans. I know you guys have waited for a long time. (like since the roads were built)

  4. Mayor, I appreciate so much your approach of sound financial planning and fiscal restraint. I just want you to know we will support you in this and be patient as you do the best you can for our community.

  5. Mayor, when we were going through the possibility of having the prison here you kept talking about a large company that was looking at EM as a possible home. Since the PRC chose a site I have heard nothing again from you, or maybe I missed it, about this company putting roots down here. Where are we with that and what are we doing to be attractive to businesses to grow that tax base and increase jobs close to home?

    • Seth, Thank you for the reminder. I’m going to check the non disclosure document I signed to see how freely I can talk about it. I don’t want to get us in legal trouble. I can tell you the following details however. The company was going to manufacture the raw materials for a new “additive manufacturing” process. The company was a fortune 50 company and they had been developing the technology for about 10 years if I’m not mistaken. They had perfected the process and were making complex components for the aerospace industry. The total investment in equipment for the plant would have been over 100 million at full buildout and they would have brought several hundred jobs at full build out. From our continued negotiations and interactions, the deal was ours to loose. Several “firm” decision dates came and went while discussion on our nations Capitol Hill heated up over a very specific bill that would affect their business. According to the company, the position on the issue that members of our federal delegation took were injurious to their business overseas. The delegation from the number two state saw this and their delegates took a much more complimentary tone on the issue. At that point the company felt they did not have any choice but to choose that state.

      I do apologize if that description is light on the specifics. I am intentionally leaving out the specifics because there is reason to believe there were other factors for the decision which the company did not share with us. I don’t blame anyone for the way things worked out, though it was disheartening. Having said that, we aren’t spending any time crying over spilled milk. We are still pursuing large companies looking for industrial space. I was at a meeting just today with the VP of another promising business. We are now working through the numbers to see what a deal would look like before we consider presenting an incentive package. Aside from this business there are a couple others, with one looking very promising. In short, we are busy, but nothing firm is in the works yet. We want business that brings jobs, but we aren’t desperate. We have some very good things going for us and I become more and more confident that it is a matter of time before we land one. We want to land the right one though. After the first comes in, things get a little bit easier. It is always considered a risk for the first market entrant. I hope that helps?

  6. Pingback: Birds of Prey – Quail Run Farm

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