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The Proper Protection for Highland: Funding First Response
What is being proposed?
The Mayor and City Council are considering two options.

1. A 36% increase to Highland City’s property tax rate to raise an additional $701,000 per year that would be dedicated to Fire and Police services. Highland City’s property tax rate is 18% of residents’ total property tax bill. The increase would only be to our rate, not the total property tax bill. The average Highland home valued at $561,290 would pay an additional $146.80 per year in property taxes. This equates to $12.23 per month.

2. A Public Safety fee of $12.53 per month on residents' utility bills that would be dedicated to Fire and Police services.

What is it for?
Fire – Maintaining Level of Service Proposal ~ ($536,000)
As of July 1, 2019, Cedar Hills City has opted out of the Lone Peak Fire District. While the overall budget for the Fire District has decreased, in order to maintain the same level of fire/paramedic service that we currently have, the cost for the individual cities is increasing. The level of service that the Fire Department is proposing means that Lone Peak Fire will be able to respond to two simultaneous medical calls, treat two patients, or treat a major medical incident such as a cardiac arrest without needing to rely on calling in mutual aid from American Fork or Lehi which are more than 6 minutes away. Doing something less would mean a decrease from the current level of service which could translate into things like longer response times. The level of service proposed does not meet national standards, but rather is appropriate to our area's call volume level and general nature of the community.

Police – Recruitment and Retention Proposal ~ ($160,000)
Throughout the nation, recruiting and retaining police officers has become more and more challenging. The Utah State Legislature responded to this trend by passing a bill that requires cities to increase the retirement benefit for some of our officers. Lone Peak Police Department is also responding by raising the minimum starting
wage of officers and adding a 401K matching program to be more competitive with neighboring police agencies. Being able to attract and keep quality police officers is vital to providing quality police services such as crime prevention and traffic enforcement. Even with the increase, Highland residents will be paying less per resident for police than cities such as Pleasant Grove, Saratoga Springs, Lehi, Draper, Orem, and American Fork.

District Administration ~ ($6,000)
This increase is largely due to the reassignment of dispatch and like fees among two cities instead of three.

Isn't there another funding option?
City Council has considered other options such as finding the funds within the budget, using money from reserves, not funding the requests, and others.

Make Budget Cuts
After taking out debt payments, amounts the City is legally contracted to pay, and expenses associated with areas that charge fees for their services such as building permitting, the City expenses remaining are $1.6 million dollars. To find $701,000 within that could mean a 50% cut to every department such as parks, administration, recorder, finance, etc. Ultimately, this is not realistic and discounting the public safety increase, General Fund expenses have already been cut $261,000 from last year. In addition, there are already several projects council has identified as important, but we are unable to fund (additional open space maintenance and improvements, playground replacement, the cemetery fence, a General Plan update, and replacement of park maintenance equipment).

Use Reserves
Using money from reserves for this funding increase would mean using one-time revenue for ongoing expenses. If other expenses stayed the same, that would leave the City with a negative fund balance in 2 years. That means that all of Highland City's savings would be gone and we would be spending more than we receive in revenue.

Not Fund Request
Not funding the request would result in a decreased level of service for public safety functions. For example, the Fire District would not be able to respond to or treat two serious medical patients at one time without using mutual aid. As we have this level of service now for the two cities, not funding the request would mean a decrease in the current level service and likely an increase response times when multiple incidents occur.

For the Police District, it would mean they would have a harder time recruiting and retaining officers which could lead to a lesser quality of police traffic enforcement and crime prevention.

What are the next steps?
The Highland City Council and staff will continue to meet to discuss this proposal before it is finalized. We encourage residents to attend these meetings to learn more and give their feedback on the proposal. All meetings will be held at City Hall and will begin at 7:00 PM.

May 21 – Tentative Budget Adoption by City Council
May 22 and May 30 – Public Safety Funding Open Houses
June 18 – Final Budget Adoption by City Council
August 6 –Final Property Tax Rate Adoption if property tax option is taken

Please note that the numbers discussed above are estimates based off of the best information we have today. Some adjustment may occur before the final decision. However, we anticipate those changes to be minor.