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Mayors of Utah Valley: As economic conditions change, city government can show leadership

By Tom Westmoreland - Special to the Daily Herald | Jul 9, 2022

Courtesy Eagle Mountain

Eagle Mountain Mayor Tom Westmoreland

Utahns have probably noticed a change in how much they’re spending lately.

The impact of inflation in 2022 has shown just how rapidly circumstances can shift. For instance, the average price for a gallon of gas in Utah was $5.24 this week, an increase from $3.58 one year ago, according to AAA. Grocery prices have also shown an increase across many brands and categories, according to the Consumer Price Index released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When change occurs, families will often find themselves looking for extra income, or they may adjust their spending habits to ensure a certain quality of life is maintained.

Changes in economic circumstance are sometimes secular and sometimes the result of new approaches in public policy at varying levels of government. While these movements are constant, they do not necessarily exclude the possibility that city governments have a role to play to help their residents weather these periods of uncertainty.

It’s easy to acknowledge that local governments do not have a large influence in the way federal policy is conducted. City governments don’t negotiate with oil companies, we can’t determine interest rates and we can’t change market conditions to make the price of housing affordable.

We can, however, contribute in ways that help our residents better adapt to changes in these categories.

In many respects, city government is experiencing the very things impacting our residents. City councils across Utah are likely paying more for infrastructure projects than they were last year. Competition for employees has also become fierce. These challenges should illicit a sense of understanding for the impact similar outcomes are having on residents.

These are extraordinary times. As Delta Airlines Spokesperson Benet Wilson said in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.”

At Eagle Mountain City, we’re proud to say that we’ve taken extraordinary steps, and are considering additional measures in the future, to help residents obtain a level of stability through changing economic conditions.

Right now, Eagle Mountain is exploring the possibility of diversifying our water resources. We’re in the middle of analyzing and assessing our economic development plans to better target businesses vital to the health of our area. We’re working with developers to build attractive and relatively cost-effective housing. Eagle Mountain City is also in the early stages of utilizing the open space of this area to enhance agricultural technology to ensure supply lines and food availability for residents.

By focusing available dollars on drilling new water wells, Eagle Mountain residents are more likely to have fresh, clean drinking water during ongoing drought conditions. These efforts are likely to become increasingly important if Utah’s record-setting dry spells continue.

Working with outside consultants to identify companies interested in our area satisfies several needs for Eagle Mountain, as well. Our residents need jobs that are well-paying, close to home and in a variety of industries to better support local families in search of housing and to assist if a serious economic downturn occurs.

Eagle Mountain also has one of the fastest-growing housing markets in the state. We are working diligently with developers to bring attractive options for families and young professionals and are considering proposals from these same developers to keep Eagle Mountain a relatively affordable place to live.

Finally, partnering with local companies to press innovative solutions in the areas of agriculture will help ensure that our residents remain connected to the land while utilizing technology that can substantially increase the productivity of Eagle Mountain’s available land. With some advance planning, city governments have the potential to incentivize the production of local crop production, stabilize supply lines and contribute positively to the agricultural industry in a way that benefits the region.

Some of these ideas may seem far out. Some of them may seem more tangible. What can be said is that they are all part of city government making effective plans to support residents through changes in economic conditions.

While work takes place over the coming years to see these ideas through to completion, the wisdom of pursuing them will become clear.

City governments have a role to play. In Eagle Mountain, our residents will find a future benefit by preparing for these eventualities and supporting our residents as they occur.


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