Moving Orem in the Right Direction
When I first ran for City Council in 2013 my pledge was to bring “A New Vision. A New Direction” to Orem. I promised to listen your concerns, decrease the debt, and increase the business friendly atmosphere in Orem. Four years later, you can see the results of our hard work.
I have worked hard to create consensus among my fellow council members to make Orem a “pay as we go” city. The result is Orem city debt has decreased by 22 million (27%) and we have done it without raising taxes.
MORATORIUM ON NEW APARTMENTS
I listened to your concerns about the number of apartments being built and worked with the city council members to create a moratorium on the building of new apartments in Orem on 1300 South, State Street, Center Street, and 800 North in 2014.
BUSINESS FRIENDLY ATMOSPHERE
By keeping taxes low and being more friendly to State Street business’ we have created a better climate for business that has increased city sales tax revenues by 24%! New businesses like Trader Joe’s, Tucanos, Nordstrom Rack have come into Orem and we have also had an increase in new small business opening!
In November 2013 Orem voters renewed the CARE tax. As a Council Member I have voted fairly and judiciously on all expenditures. One of the projects that came before the Recreation Advisory Commission while I was the City Council liaison was the All-Together Playground. It is a playground in the center of town that allows children of all abilities and ages the opportunity to play and promote healthy development of all children’s physical, social, cognitive, and sensory abilities. I have been an enthusiastic supporter and volunteer for the All-Together Playground. With money set aside from the CARE Tax and generous contributions from local businesses and citizens, we raised almost a million dollars for the project. I had the opportunity to be one of over 4,100 volunteers for construction and logistics. It is an amazing achievement for our community that unites us around our shared values. Learn more about the playground.
I believe Orem City should not have signed the UTOPIA agreement back in 2002. Government should not be in competition with private enterprise. To make matters worse there wasn’t a provision in the contract (non-performance clause) that would allow Orem City to get out, even if UTOPIA did not stand up to their end of the agreement.
As a City Council, we are now left to stop the financial bleeding the best we can. I have kept my word to vote against any new taxes, utility fees, or bonding to pay for UTOPIA. I continue to look for ways to decrease costs and potentially find a solution to this challenge. The good news is that Annual UTOPIA expenses for Orem City are down $350,000 since 2016.
Here are the financial facts about UTOPIA:
2013 UTOPIA had a negative net position of $(146,818,914)
2014 they sank deeper with a negative net position of $(166,661,471)
2015 financials showed a negative net position of $(177,867,318)
2016 they had a negative net position of $(197,723,522)
The UTOPIA debt has increased almost $51 million in just 4 years.
- All of these financial statements are available for download on the State Auditor’s website.
- Click here to view the 2012 Audit
- Click here to read a University of Pennsylvania study on Municipal Fiber in the United States: An Empirical Assessment of Financial Performance (Includes UTOPIA)
I am in favor of having fiber in Orem, but it should be done by private enterprise.
In the past four years as a Councilman, I have served on the Recreation Advisory Commission, Utah Infrastructure Agency (UIA), Planning Commission, Senior Citizen Advisory Commission, and Public Works Commission. I am currently serving on the Historical Preservation Advisory Commission, the CARE Tax Advisory Commission, the Utah Valley University (UVU) Community Relations Commission, and the Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULCT).