City Council Meeting - May 31, 2022
The council meeting on May 31st was my first in-person meeting in a month, and it was good to be together with my fellow council members. I’m confident that we made great progress on exciting things happening in Heber City.
Our work meeting started with a special closed session including the sheriff and Mayor Franco. This was to address personnel matters, as well as pending litigation. While the personnel matter was never advertised or posted, the mayor advised that we were able to continue with the meeting in the case of an emergency.
We came out of that closed session at about 7:30pm, and took a few minutes to regroup before the regular meeting. First on the agenda was approval of various meeting minutes, followed by approval of the Revised Cultural Heritage Ordinance 2022-14. I wanted to make it clear to the council that the Cultural Heritage Ordinance was meant to be a resource for individuals who are seeking to develop properties with historic buildings. In Heber City, we are unable to restrict the development of these properties. However, we can encourage owners with plans for redevelopment to do so in a manner that preserves the historic integrity of the property.
During the public comment period, we heard from a citizen who purchased an auto mechanic shop several years ago and was concerned about a zoning change. At the time, she wasn’t aware of the C-2 zoning that affected her property. The property is not currently working as a mechanic shop, but has had mechanic shop materials on premises since she took ownership. She was unaware of the zoning change until a potential buyer showed interest in the property. Because she is looking to sell, she requested an MDA to allow continuation of the use for which she had purchased the property originally. The council was favorable to this request, and she will follow established protocols to receive an MDA.
After closing public comments, we moved on to the first public hearing. This pertained to the adoption of the proposed 2022 Fiscal Budget. The budget for 2022 includes major increases based on water, sewer, and pressurized irrigation projects in downtown Heber City. Rightfully so, this was referred to as the "Year of Capital Infrastructure.”
Other interesting highlights of the budget include:
MAG trail and grants positions
Downtown envisioning work
New manpower and personnel
No property tax increase and no plan to go through the “truth in taxation process”
In total, 8.13% of our property taxes currently go to the Heber City budget. The remaining amount goes to the school district, Wasatch County, fire protection, the County Special Service District, and Central UT Conservancy District.
The following are rate increases that will take effect to begin paying for the large capital projects beginning this summer:
Culinary water 5% rate increase, effective August 1
Waste water 5% rate increase, effective August 1
Storm water 20% rate increase, effective August 1
Pressurized irrigation 15% rate increase, effective August 1
In addition, cemetery rate increases will be effective July 1 and a Public Safety Impact Fee (varying depending on the situation) begins September 1. Adoption of the 2022 fiscal budget will be June 21st.
Moving on, there was discussion regarding whether Heber City should pursue its own RAP tax after the narrow defeat by six votes on the countywide RAP tax vote in 2021. The council would like to pursue a RAP tax for Heber City, but only if the school district is not pursuing a bond issue on the 2022 ballot. This was not a final decision or a motion that was made, but it was a part of the budget discussion.
There was also discussion pertaining to the proposed water feature next to the City Hall building. Ryan Stack wanted to confirm that there is money available if we decide to partner with CAMS in making this project a reality. There was great discussion by the council in favor of looking at these projects as they come on a case-by-case basis. This will allow us to give support to the leadership academy and other organizations as they try to improve city facilities.
One major point of clarification pertaining to the budget is the notion that Heber City is currently operating with an annual surplus. Our sales tax revenue has increased dramatically over the last several years, and we do have a reserve fund in place. That said, it may not be so good in the future.
After the public hearing regarding the budget, there was a brief discussion on the Wasatch Transit Authority. They are currently studying regular bus service between Heber City and Park City, as well as interlocal service between Heber, Midway, Daniel, and Charleston.
There was a second public hearing pertaining to the institution of a Public Safety Impact Fee. A study had to be completed to determine if the city would be able to charge an impact fee for public safety as we continue to grow. Zions Public Finance presented the results, which concluded that Heber City could charge an impact fee of $203.79 per single family unit to help pay for costs associated with the growth. This is lower than the overall state average, so there was support from the council to move forward.
Moving along, the next item addressed by the council was the LA Bonner annexation. This is a small 1-acre lot on Mill Road that is requesting annexation into Heber City. The plan is to divide the acre with the existing home on half an acre and maintain half an acre that could be developed in the future. The motion passed 4-0 to move forward with the annexation.
Next item on the agenda was to enter a contract with BHI for phase 1A of the Central Heber Replacement Project. This also passed with a 4-0 vote in favor. Likewise, the next item on the agenda pertaining to Ordinance 2022-15 (the public safety impact fee) also passed 4-0 in favor. We also discussed the creation of an Assistant City Manager/Prosecutor position.
Finally, we went back to items on the work agenda that were not previously addressed. George Bennett brought forward a proposal for an MDA on a property located at 242 South 100 West. There was a favorable feeling from the council that George should move forward with his plan. What he is considering developing on the property falls in line with the Envision 2050 master plan and the downtown overlay zone as proposed. The MDA will allow him to develop the property despite the overlay zone being unapproved.
The second item discussed was a retirement community located on University Avenue in the North Village annexation area. Council Member Mike Johnston noted that this would be a good asset in the area, providing a variety of home options. As our valley has grown, our facilities currently in use are becoming inadequate in comparison to demand. I brought up the need to still fulfill a low-income housing requirement, as well as the preservation fee that other properties have to abide by in the North Village overlay zone. Overall, the conversation and reception of this project was optimistic.
To end the evening, we held a closed session to discuss personnel, as well as the purchase, exchange, or lease of real property.
D. Scott Phillips
Heber City Council