City Council Meeting - April 19, 2022
This week’s meeting was eventful, beginning with a late start due to technical difficulties. This was rather ironic because the first agenda item was regarding citywide open access fiber deployment. Nonetheless, it was an incredibly interesting presentation.
Our network is one of the most important pieces of our infrastructure. As more people turn to remote work, there is an increasing need for high-speed connectivity. The question is whether we want to have a fiber network that functions as a utility service, such as water, sewer, and power. With this model, all households connected to the fiber network would pay a nominal monthly fee to get basic internet service. This can actually benefit folks who only use the internet for small tasks like email and online shopping. It’s likely that they’re currently paying more every month than they would with this utility service format.
I currently have high-speed internet in my home, primarily for work and entertainment streaming. Based on the projections we saw in this presentation, I would pay less for monthly service than I currently do. In order to make this project possible, we would need to bond for the money to build the fiber network infrastructure. These bonds would be paid back through user fees, which also include a fund for future repairs and replacements. All in all, it’s clear that the city has done extensive research into this project and it deserves our consideration.
Moving along, we continued our work meeting with a review of the proposed DMJ annexation and tentative MDA terms at the intersection of Highways 32 and 40. This is a small commercial development that will include a parking lot for the trails on that side of town. This project provides plenty of open space and will surely be a great amenity for Heber City.
While a presentation from Beka Grulich of UVU Wasatch was on the work agenda, we unfortunately ran out of time. She is planning on coming to our next work meeting.
The regular meeting got off to a late start, we began with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer/thoughts by Council Member Kahler. She read out of a book about the history of the Heber Valley, which was both refreshing and interesting.
The consent agenda was first up, requiring approval of the minutes from our meeting earlier this month. We moved to confirm Billy Tiedman for appointment to the OSTPT Trees Subcommittee, as well as a public works fleet equipment liquidation. Mayor Franco also issued a proclamation for the National Day of Prayer on May 5, 2022.
The action items agenda started with a presentation and contribution to Heber City by the Back To The 50’s Car Show. This is a wonderful car show that comes to town in June. It has been a great partnership for the city for many years. We all look forward to welcoming them again.
The second item was a presentation by Heber Youth regarding July 9, 2022 as “No Sides, Only Love Day.” This was described as a day of service and a celebration of kindness in Heber Valley. They requested city participation and sponsorship of the event, as well as Main Street banners for promotion. During this presentation, we had a chance to hear from several Heber Valley youth who identify as LGBTQ+.
It was inspiring to see the courage they had to stand before the council and discuss difficult issues. Many of them reported bullying and poor treatment in the community. I was able to share some of my own personal experiences pertaining to individuals in my extended family who identify as gay, lesbian, and non-binary. As a straight man, I may never understand the pain that these individuals feel. I’ll never fully know their daily struggles. However, I did lose a brother to suicide just one year ago. My hope is that our community can step up and find ways to help people who are struggling. I support the Encircle Organization and I’m grateful for the resources they bring to our community.
That said, I support the current code pertaining to flags, and I’m not sure their request can be approved based on this code. My suggestion was to designate a Saturday in June (National Pride Month) as a day of service. This could include Main Street flags that are representative of the community as a whole or have a message that represents the community used in combination with the LGBTQ+ colors. Something to the effect of #Kindness. Council Member Johnston made a motion to incorporate a week of service during the first week of June, sponsored by the city, including flags that represent the community. This seems to be a good step in the right direction. Those in attendance were grateful that they were both seen and heard on a deeper level.
The next agenda item was to adopt an updated wage scale for all city employees. There was an extensive study completed that shows where we are lacking when it comes to compensating our wonderful employees here in Heber City. This was approved with a few re-work areas where the proposed salary was less than the current salary. We asked that this be reviewed and corrected.
Following up on an item from earlier this month, the council was able to amend Title 5 of the Heber City code regarding beer gardens. This will make way for a beer garden at the Market on Main events this summer. As Council Member Kahler reiterated, there are already individuals drinking illegally at these events. This simply gives them an opportunity to purchase an adult beverage that they can enjoy in a controlled environment. Per our discussions, it seems the beer garden will likely be placed in the middle of the park. It will comply with all state laws as far as distance from the playground.
The council also approved the IT consulting agreement with Executech. This is a contract for information technology services, which will allow us to keep things running smoothly.
In regard to the fiscal year 2022-2023 tentative budget, the public hearing date will be on May 31, 2022. We will meet on Saturday, May 7th to discuss the details of the budget and solidify a few things before the public hearing.
In other news, the city engineers wanted to update Heber City standard specifications and drawings. This basically means allowing different manufacturers of parts that are necessary for city infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines or fire hydrants. I’m pleased that we have professional engineers working diligently to make sure we are on the top of our game and compliant with current regulations.
The ninth item on the agenda was approving the MacDonald parcel purchase agreement. This is a piece of ground that is north of the current Muirfield Park. We decided to approve the purchase, confirming the existence of any water shares on the property beforehand. A survey will help us confirm the correct boundary lines of the purchase.
I also thought it was important for us to revisit zoning regulations in light of several plans for five-story buildings showing up. In my opinion, our three-story buildings help to preserve the quaint, small town feel we all love. We are pursuing a temporary ordinance in the next meeting to put a moratorium on building heights. This will remain in place until we have a final decision on what we would like for each zone in the city.
Last, but not least, we discussed consideration for approval of a material procurement agreement with BHI for phase 1 of the central Heber replacements project. One of the difficulties we’re facing is a rise in the price of materials. We must get these purchased as soon as possible in light of rising inflation. I’m happy to report that this was approved, and we should see work beginning in the next month or so. It’s exciting to be a part of changes that will be lasting and impactful for Heber City.
In closing, I’d like to make a public statement about the Heber City Police Department. They have been working under extremely difficult circumstances over the last few years. Between COVID-19 restrictions and heightened tension across the country, there is no doubt that it’s not an easy job. I want to publicly acknowledge their service and sacrifice. I appreciate each and every one of them as they serve, honor, and protect our community. We have a great group of men and women serving as officers here in the Heber valley, and I want to make sure they know that their efforts do not go unrecognized.
D. Scott Phillips
Heber City Council