I am keenly aware of the issues that our city faces and am qualified to make lasting changes regarding those issues. I believe that as a city we need to be able to make decisions, that are sometimes difficult, that are preparing us for the future.
Issue 1 - Vision-Looking and Planning for the Future
This impacts all the others. A single example is the proposed development on 4800 N University avenue. The council needs to be looking at more than the current developer’s proposal. There are issues with the sewer and water for these nine acres as well as the eight on the south side of 4750. The future development of the eight acres, which will most assuredly be higher density than just eight homes and safe ingress and egress access to a lighted intersection on 4800 N. If it’s NOT provided now it will not be possible in the future. There are broader impacts to the city as a whole – for example the office buildings just west of the river north of Ancestry.com’s vacant buildings, etc. Higher density (urban living) requires certain amenities and services – mass transit, walkable shopping, entertainment, & employment, arterial access, etc. and this location has it and is a prime location for increased density. The entire west side masterplan is based on the capacity of Provo’s current sewer system, which is falling apart and can’t meet the state’s proposed standards.
Issue 2 - Our failing infrastructure
Provo has neglected maintaining its infrastructure for years and its creating a huge liability for our children. They have been kicking the ball down the road for decades. In the Fresh Water master plan in the mid 1980’s millions of dollars of work were identified. In 2010, when the study was done again the price tag had increased to over $60 Million. By 2017, it has increased to over $110 Million according to Dave Decker. Just fixing the undersized fire water supply lines in Provo will cost over $40 Million. The big water tank by the Provo temple, built in 1930 had a 60-year life. It’s now 87 years later and cement is falling from the ceiling into the tank and it is still in full operation without the reserves to replace it with an earthquake standard tank. The sewer system is also in need of replacement and relocation to an area by the south end of the airport. Not only are there no funds for this, there are no plans or timeline for this move.
Issue 3 - Public Safety-Police Department
Provo has the same number of police officers it has had for the past 20 years. In 2012 an independent study recommended that Provo have 125 officers. It has yet to have over 105 officers (Utah cities of similar size have 40-90% more officers than Provo). Last year three new positions were authorized by the council; but the needs were so much worse for dispatch workers that the department transferred the headcount there. With the advent of the front runner station the incident of local crimes, homelessness and panhandling have increased significantly. Provo’s officers are required to handle 8-10 calls/incidents per shift, where Lehi officers handle 1-2 and Orem officers handle four. Provo officers receive the same or lower initial pay than other peer officers. The mobile watch and safe neighborhood programs have fallen by the wayside as the officers are too busy following up on calls to build relationships and work on preventive programs. UTA projects the BRT system will require 22 additional UTA officers in the Orem/Provo area. UTA currently has three officers covering everything from 13th south in SLC to Provo.
Issue 4 - Sound fiscal/monetary management
I have reviewed the first 100 pages of Provo’s proposed 2018 budget in detail and I have seven pages of questions, concerns, unexplained entries, etc. For example, department after department is missing their budgets, as reported for 2017, by $500,000, $1,000,000 or more. When asked about this the answer is ‘municipal budgets are complex and the reporting is different from other forms of reporting’ and ‘if there was a problem, we would not pass the state audit of our books’. I think the city’s financial reports should be accurate, well documented, footnoted and transparent enough that a lay person can understand exactly what is happening. Additionally, for many years the city has been transferring about $11 Million a year from the utility revenue to the general fund and spending it on the operational expenses for the city. I believe this is much like the federal governments utilization of social security contributions on other government expenses, rather than saving it for social security payments – thus bankrupting social security. It’s given our residents a false impression of what it takes to operate our city.
Issue 5 - Vibrant Business Environment
To paraphrase the Lion King, I believe business is “the Circle of Life”. Businesses, especially local businesses, are the foundation to a healthy, vibrant, strong city. They create jobs, which provide income to people so they can live here, buy/rent homes here, shop here, go to school here, raise families here etc. They increase the value of real estate, so more property taxes are generated to provide city services. They generate sales taxes which again fund city services. They generate additional investment back in the community in many ways. Therefore, we need to be finding more ways that we can attract more businesses and promote the success of them in our area.