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Precollegiate
Alpine School District board votes to raise property taxes to increase teacher pay, fund capital projects

The Alpine School District Board of Education approved a property tax increase Tuesday night in a sign they hope sends the message that teachers are valued.

“I know that teaching is a profession that requires sacrifice,” said Mark Clement, a member of the board. “I don’t think it should require as much sacrifice as it currently does.”

The board unanimously voted to approve a .006699 property tax rate, the lowest rate the district has seen in 10 years.

The change means that property taxes on a $317,000 home would increase $35.04 a year from $745 to $780.04. The taxes on a business of the same value would increase $63.72 a year from $1,354.54 to $1,418.26 a year.

The changes are projected to increase the district’s property tax revenue by 7.98% above last year’s property tax revenue, excluding new growth.

The increase is expected to generate about $5.6 million that would go toward efforts such as increasing teacher pay and non-bond-related capital projects.

Most of those who spoke during the Truth-in-Taxation hearing prior to the vote Tuesday spoke in favor of increasing the tax levy.

Derek Smith, a teacher in the district, said he wished the state Legislature funded education better. As more demands are placed on teachers, he said they can be tempted to find employment elsewhere.

“I don’t want to see good teachers leave this school district,” Smith said.

Kate Ross, the principal of Lindon Elementary School, said that in the last few years she’s seen the number of candidates applying for positions go from 200 for one position, to eight.

“I think few would argue that this tax increase is absolutely necessary for our teachers,” Ross said.

Michelle Stalling, the sole voice strongly against the increase, said that while her home has tripled in value since she bought it, her salary hasn’t.

“I am afraid you are going to eventually tax people out of their homes the way you are going,” she said.

Stalling asked the board to provide greater financial transparency for the district.

Members of the Alpine School District Board of Education voiced their dislike for property taxes and raising them, but said they needed to in order to avoid missing out on millions of dollars of funding from the state Legislature.

Clement said he keeps his parents in mind when making those decisions.

“They lived on a fixed income, and whenever we think about raising property tax, I think about them, and every dime matters,” Clement said during the meeting.

He said that while there’s not much fat to trim in the district’s budget, it is constantly evaluating where it can be more stringent.

Sarah Beeson, a member of the board, echoed sentiments about wanting to increase teacher pay.

“I value our children, and I need them to have good teachers,” Beeson said.


Evan Cobb, Daily Herald 

An Alpine School District school bus sits at the Alpine School District Transportation building on Thursday, March 1, 2018, in American Fork.


Elections
breaking
Initial primary results of Utah County city council races released

Nine Utah County cities voted Tuesday in municipal primaries to see which candidates will advance to the general election in November.

All Utah County primary election races have three at-large seats, with six candidates moving to the general election, except for the two Provo City Council District races, which each have one seat. Two candidates will move forward in each of the two Provo races.

Municipal primaries tend to draw much smaller turnout than state and national elections. The general election will be held Nov. 5.

The election was conducted primarily via mail, with ballots mailed out by the county about three weeks before Election Day. It’s the first election under the watch of new Utah County Clerk Amelia Powers, who ran on the idea of modernizing Utah County’s election process before the looming 2020 presidential election, where voter turnout is highest.

Powers took to social media Tuesday afternoon to tout that there were no lines at the polling center she visited in Lehi. Utah County was widely criticized for long lines at the polls during the November 2018 election, which featured some high profile races, including the nail-biter 4th Congressional District showoff between Rep. Mia Love and her Democratic opponent Ben McAdams, who went on to unseat her.

Efforts to speed up elections and the voting process have included acquiring new equipment that reduces man-hours spent processing ballots.

Eagle Mountain

Eagle Mountain had seven candidates running for three open, four-year seats. Residents could vote for three candidates total.

Colby Curtis led the race for Eagle Mountain City Council with 842 votes, according to unofficial election results released at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Carolyn Love followed with 574 votes, then Jared Gray with 446 votes, Ben Porter with 392 votes, Rich Wood with 371 votes, Devyn Smith with 257 votes and Jeremy Bergener with 232 votes.

Kaden Shumway was disqualified, and Matt Downing and Jonathan Vail withdrew before election day.

Highland

Highland had eight candidates running for three open, four-year seats. Residents could vote for three candidates total.

As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, Brittney Bills led the race with 1,273 votes, followed by Kim Rodela with 1,220 votes, Timothy Ball with 727 votes, Doug Cortney with 355 votes, Wayne Knoll Tanaka with 315 votes, Kenneth Knapton III with 305 votes, Troy Dyches with 251 votes and Christopher Thayne with 104 votes.

Tina Grundmann, Kelly Branan and Anthony Eardley withdrew before Election Day.

Lehi

Lehi had 14 candidates running for three open, four-year seats. Residents could vote for three candidates total.

Paige Albrecht led the race with 2,363 votes, as of 8 p.m. Tuesday. Following were Mike Southwick with 2,010 votes, Johnny Revill with 1,718 votes, Cody Black with 1,204 votes, Katie Koivisto with 1,063 votes, Matthew Wynn Hemmert with 949 votes, Tahnee Hamilton with 910 votes, Michelle Miles with 688 votes, Jason Oviatt with 473 votes, Steven Werner with 323 votes, Montane Hamilton with 267 votes, Jonathan Willis with 144 votes, Ammon Crossette with 108 votes and Henry Rudolph Kneitz III with 103.

Mapleton

Mapleton had 10 candidates running for three open, four-year seats. Residents could vote for three candidates total.

Leading the race as of 8 p.m. was Therin Garrett with 918 votes, Leslie Jones with 881 votes, Jessica Egbert with 721 votes, Scott Hansen with 482 votes, Adam Fife with 438 votes, Nannette Jackson with 409 votes, Mike Nelson with 346 votes, Patrick Bennett Hagen with 336 votes, Sam Bernard with 173 votes and David Floyd Stewart with 141 votes.

Orem

Orem had 11 candidates running for three open, four-year seats. Residents could vote for three candidates total.

Leading the race as of 8 p.m. was Terry Peterson with 5,159 votes, Debby Lauret with 4,273 votes, Jeffrey Lambson with 3,336 votes, Sam Lentz with 3,259 votes, Spencer Rands with 2,055 votes, Nichelle Jensen with 1,717 votes, Mickey Cochran with 1,137 votes, David Przybyla with 1,093 votes, David Halliday with 939 votes, Tommy Williams with 585 votes and Martin Wright with 468 votes.

Pleasant Grove

Pleasant Grove had seven candidates running for three open, four-year seats. Residents could vote for three candidates total.

As of 8 p.m., Cyd Lemone led the race with 2,398 votes, Eric Jensen had 2,116 votes, Brent Bullock had 1,696 votes, Dustin Phllips had 1,523 votes, Alexander Carter had 1,323 votes, Carrie Hammond had 519 votes and Aaron Spnhirne had 495 votes.

Roy Spindler withdrew from the race before Election Day.

Provo Council District 3

Provo has three candidates running for the open third district seat. Residents could vote for one candidate.

Shannon Ellsworth had 757 votes, as of 8 p.m. Tuesday. Following were Robin Roberts with 395 votes and Jeff Handy with 229 votes.

Provo Council District 4

Provo has four candidates running for the open fourth district seat. Residents could vote for one candidate.

Travis Hoban led the race with 985 votes, as of 8 p.m. Tuesday. Valeria Paxman had 820 votes, Beth Alligood had 560 votes and Eric Ludwig had 134 votes.

Santaquin

Santaquin had 10 candidates running for three open, four-year seats. Residents could vote for three candidates total.

Lynn Mecham led the race with 459 votes, as of 8 p.m. Tuesday. Jessica Tolman followed with 449 votes, Jennifer Bowman had 334 votes, Mike Weight had 297 votes, David Hathaway had 288 votes, Douglas Rohbock had 273 votes, Kody Curtis had 271 votes, William Morgan had 224 votes and Denise Prue Rohbock had 180 votes.

Jordan Wood withdrew before Election Day.

Springville

Springville had eight candidates running for three open, four-year seats. Residents could vote for three candidates total.

Matt Packard had the most votes with 1,812, as of 8 p.m. Tuesday. Following was Patrick Monney with 1,664 votes, Liz Crandall with 1,337 votes, Craig Conover with 1,133 votes, Jason Miller with 961 votes, Deborah Hall with 858 votes, Harold Mitchell with 838 votes and Katie Jones with 430 votes.

Tiffany Stubbs withdrew from the race before Election Day.

Alpine, Cedar Hills, Fairfield, American Fork, Cedar Fort, Genola, Elk Ridge, Goshen, Lindon, Payson, Salem, Saratoga Springs, Spanish Fork, Vineyard and Woodland Hills will vote for their city council candidates in November — none of these cities had enough candidates file to make a primary necessary.

After election night, results will be updated on Tuesdays and Fridays at 3 p.m. until the canvassing period ends on Aug. 27.


Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald 

Lehi junior Kennedi Schmidt (left) battles a Westlake player for the ball during the 2-1 Pioneer win in overtime over Westlake in Lehi on Aug. 13, 2019.


Orem
Orem creates website to inform residents on developments under construction

It’s no secret that Orem has various developments under construction, but interested residents often don’t know what they are or how many. Now they can.

Orem’s Development Services has designed a simple website https://orem.org/apb that lists all of the construction and redevelopment projects in the city, a brief description, where the company located and where it is in the process; and it shows businesses new to Orem as well.

“Orem continues to be a place people want to invest in,” said Steven Downs, city spokesman. “It speaks to our staff to make things happen.”

“It’s kind of a one-stop shop for information on what’s being built,” said Pete Wolfley, communications and innovations officer and designer of the website.

Wolfley said the idea was to get information out on projects as soon as possible and with as much transparency as possible.

“We want to make information accessible,” Wolfley said.

The ‘apb’ in the website address stands for active projects being built.

One of the purposes of the website is to make sure correct information is being shared instead of relying on social media speculation.

“People don’t have to speculate anymore,” Wolfley said. “It went up on Aug. 1.”

The idea for the website came from residents’ response to survey on what kind of information they would like from the city.

Wolfely said, “It’s been interesting, people want to know about new developments and events.”

That is what they are getting. The website is set to update every five minutes.

As of noon Tuesday there were 55 projects on the list. It showed everything from permits being issued to developments being granted occupancy. It shows anything from a pergola being built to large projects like Green On Campus Drive, the student housing project being built just east of Utah Valley University.

The Green On Campus Drive housing development shows buildings one through three under construction and permits issued for building five and the for the five-story parking garage.

The simple website also shows whether a new business is building or redesigning a building before occupying it.

On Orem’s homepage you can also find Orem Construction Central, which lists projects specifically being done for the city such as parks, sewer lines and more.


Woodland-hills
Woodland Hills' decision on 20% property tax increase delayed following large public turnout airing concerns

Dozens of Woodland Hills residents expressed concern to the Woodland Hills City Council Tuesday night over a proposed property tax increase.

Over a hundred people packed into the city council chambers in the city building to express their thoughts on a proposed 22.71% increase in property tax revenue above last year’s, excluding new growth.

Woodland Hills already has some of the highest property tax rates in Utah County, in part because it does not have commercial businesses within the city, meaning property tax is its main form of revenue.

That means the tax on a $537,000 residence would increase from $1,161.91 to $1,425.65 if the budget is approved, a difference of $263.74 per year.

Many commentators asked for better transparency from the city about how the money will be used, and Pray said the city is committed to finding better ways to disseminate information.

Others expressed concern at the money spent by the city on items like the UTOPIA fiber project or two trucks purchased by the city.

After a two and a half hour meeting in which dozens of residents expressed their concerns about fiscal responsibility, city employee benefits and other concerns, the council did not vote on the budget and tax rate. Another public hearing is scheduled in two weeks for 6 p.m. Aug. 27 at the same location for the city to approve the mayor’s proposed budget, which is tied to the property tax increase.

Woodland Hills Mayor Wendy Pray told those in attendance that at least two city council members have told her they won’t pass the city budget as she has submitted it, and that they’ll negotiate and consider the public feedback over the next two weeks before the hearing.

Pray sent out a letter to residents in July, asking them to consider factors like aging infrastructure, mitigation for the Pole Creek/Bald Mountain fire impact, aging snowplows, development failures and increasing employee costs as to why the city was proposing adding $133,000 to the budget.

Pray said she wanted to address some of the reasons for the city’s financial shortages, one of which is two failed developments that the city is now on the hook for financially for unfinished roads, sewer and other services.

A property bond was secured for that development, Pray said, but because that was 15 years ago, inflation has made it so the bond doesn’t cover all the costs.

Another development was signed off on by a city engineer that is no longer employed with the city, Pray said, and now has failing systems. When the city went to call the property bond on that project, they found out a bond had never been secured and was through a title company that was defunct, Pray said.

“The property owners in that area are considered innocent third parties,” Pray said. “The city is responsible and obligated to make that good for them.”

That project was also approved over 10 years ago, Pray said, meaning that no one currently serving on the council had any part in the decision.

Councilmember Paul MacArthur said that inflation has necessitated increases in spending just to maintain roads. Because of that need, MacArthur said he is considering approving the portion of tax increase that would be dedicated to roads, but said he would need to look at the rest of it before deciding how to vote.

MacArthur said he would need a “really strong reason” to approve tax raises.

Pray told the residents in attendance that she understood how they felt.

“If you’re upset, I get it,” Pray said. “I’m upset too. It’s an emotional thing.”

Seven other Utah County entities are holding Truth-in-Taxation hearings this year as well, including Alpine, Alpine School District and Orem.

Payson and Spanish Fork also both increased their tax revenue this year: Spanish Fork to pay for planning for a new library, and Payson for branding and a new phone system.