Comments for City Officials

Since the mayor and the city council have not been very good at responding to citizen complaints in public meetings or via email, I created this webpage so citizens can leave them public feedback.

If you are upset with the city’s high utility rates and the city’s exorbitant spending, and you would like to share your thoughts and feelings with your elected officials, please enter your comments in the field below.

Address your comments to the mayor or city council, and after your comments, please leave a name and location (such as John Q. in City Center) to describe what part of the city you are from. In other words, pretend you are writing a letter to your elected officials. All comments will be moderated.

These are your elected officials:

Mayor Heather Jackson
Council Member Donna Burnham
Council Member John Painter
Council Member Richard Steinkopf
Council Member Nathan Ochsenhirt
Council Member Ryan Ireland

Good luck!

126 thoughts on “Comments for City Officials

  1. multiple residents have shared concerns over the utility billing office and that is being followed up on. you are right that no customer should ever be treated disrespectfully or unprofessionally.

  2. some of these issues were discussed last night but i will address them here as well.
    1) ultimately, the city was liable (we had hired the contractor who performed the work) and the issue was resolved for ~$5000. Adam Ferre, the energy director spoke to this in more detail.
    2) i have asked for the report I was given for last years numbers and will share that with you when I receive it. revenues and costs are broken down in greater detail for a more clear analysis. the city implemented a program to reduce (OT of city staff) costs by allowing residents to volunteer on several committees –
    3) i can’t speak on behalf of the mayor. i was out of town at the time when these floods occurred. city workers were expected to be evaluating, assisting, clearing and improving the storm drains.
    4) when the mayoral election took place 4 years ago, regan bolli ran on a part time platform and heather ran on a full time platform. I campaigned with and voted for regan bolli. i did not know heather personally but preferred a part time mayor when both a full time administrator and assistant administrator provided such a wealth of experience.
    5) certain budgetary funds are approved in the prior year budget as part of pony express days expenses. budget items over $5000 required city council approval, while those items under the 5k amount and budgeted for were approved by the mayor and administrator . many of these items were not presented to or approved by the council.
    6) changes to the billing template and process have already begun.
    7) walden did not pay for the utilities, the previous, current and future residents are paying those bonds. Im not exactly sure about heather’s previous work experience.
    8) the military discount is being reviewed by the council. I appreciate your suggestion of a military service luncheon. I was not a part of the creation of the discount and did not know it existed until recently.

    I hope that we can continue our communication and find the best ways to do what’s best for our city.

  3. Mr. Painter,
    Thank you for taking the time to address my concerns. Clearly last night was a tough night for many. Prior to the meeting I felt pretty strongly about many of the issues but had decided that I really wanted answers and the truth and in order to get that I needed to have an open mind. I took notes, tried to keep my thoughts focused and they were UNTIL….Mayor Jackson addressed the issue of any of our money providing for her daycare and she denied it…in fact she was downright snarky in her response to it. Then the woman in front of me called her out on bringing her baby to work. When cornered, Mayor Jackson admitted to doing it but denied that anyone actually watched her baby. Basic logic says that is a LIE. Although I think Mayor Jackson is many things, I don’t think she is an unfit mother. Leaving her child alone in a swing (when her reasoning for bringing the baby to the office was it was a premie) in her office while she went into meetings makes NO sense. If she was so concerned for her premie that she needed to bring him to work, she would NOT leave it in a swing ALONE while she goes into meetings. The irony is…I wouldn’t have cared if she had done that. Yes, someone clearly watched her baby while she went into meetings, someone on the clock, working for us…my problem was that she LIED by denying we paid for her daycare at times because if a city employee is watching your child while on our time, that is us paying for it. Had she simply said, I had a premie, I needed him close by, yes sometimes I had someone in the office keep an eye on him while I took meetings, I probably shouldn’t have done that and I’m sorry. I would have respected that. The fact that she would lie about something so trivial in the grand scheme of things, clearly makes me wonder how many of the big things she is lying about.
    #7 – I know Walden didn’t pay for the utilities, that was my point. His representatives assured county commissioners the city would not become a burden to the county (minute meetings from Nov. 1996). This was because Walden agreed to front the costly expense of bringing utilities out to the isolated city. This helped persuade the commission to approve the town’s incorporation. According to city records, however, as soon as incorporation was granted, Walden backed off from his offer to pay for the utilities. Walden’s new deal was to help the city temporarily bond for the utilities by using more than $11 million worth of his land as collateral. He NEVER followed through and now WE are the ones paying for it.
    I know he is also the representitve who signed the settlement agreement with our recent lawsuit involving Cedar Valley. Who would be the best person to have a meeting with to find out the details of the lawsuit?
    As for the military discount…I LOVE our military! I just feel it should be for those deployed. It’s discrimination at best to allow people who have a desk job at CW to get the credit but not those who have retired, or who work there but are classified in a different way.
    If we consider that if we have 200 members taking the credit, we are giving away $240,000 per year. That is a lot of money for a city so deeply in debt. I would guess we may even have more than 200 people getting the credit (I could be wrong though). I’m glad it is up for review but more importantly, I hope they make a change to this. Do you know when this will be addressed? I’m hoping it’s not at the meeting on the 19th as it’s my birthday and I have plans but I feel so strongly about it that I will skip my family plans and be there if I need to.
    Again, thank you for taking the time to respond. I’m still on the fence about you. Ireland is the only one I would 100% vote to re-elect if all seats were up for re-election today…I would give some thought to you (I go back and forth about you) and the rest, they couldn’t pay me to vote for them.

  4. I understand that this was a very cold January. However I am not just upset about the cost of my utility bill. I think that is a shortsighted view. I am most upset about the amount of money that our city government is using for things that it should not be spending on. And the fact that a lot of that spending is coming out of the utility fund is even more aggravating. If there is extra money after paying all the expenses incurred with buying, transmitting, and maintaining our utilities, then that money should be used to pay off the bonds and get this city out of debt. Not on throwing carnivals and rodeos that the citizens couldn’t care less about. I don’t know of anyone who cares if we have Pony Express Days or not. I also understand that a lot of it payed for with sponsorships. Unfortunately that does not offset all the costs, especially if you take into account the overtime payed to city workers during the events.
    We also need to cut the amount of money our city employees are receiving. Their wages are way out of line. Especially since many of them are not really qualified to hold the positions they do. We need experienced leadership and we need to pay salaries that are more in line with other cities our size.
    The city is making itself look good to buyers by keeping property taxes extremely low. They do this by making up the difference with the utilities. It makes it look like living here is a bargain. It lures people in and then they get socked with sky high utility costs. Why hasn’t our natural gas rate gone down like the rest of the country? Natural gas costs are at historic lows and every major natural gas provider has cut their rates, but not Eagle Mountain. That would probably be okay with people if the extra money was going to pay off debt instead of being used as a government slush fund.
    There are obviously many many problems in the city government. All we can do it bring our concerns to you and hope that you do something about them. If you do not, we can make our voice heard at election time.
    As far as your comment about Utah weather vs California weather, we did not live in the typical California weather. We lived at the base of the mountains at about 4000 feet. We got snow every winter and the winter temps did not fluctuate much throughout the day. We would have highs around 30 and lows around 20. We also had times when it was much colder. Even with natural gas for heating and our stove, our bills were around $95 a month inclusive. That was with having to run the air almost all day during the summer and the heater much more than I do here in the winter. Regardless of the temperature outside, I pay much higher rates here than I did in California. That was my point. Double the bills for similar weather and almost the identical same square footage is not normal and is especially maddening when we find out just where those funds are going.

  5. I would like to know how long Heather Jackson worked for John Walden before she was mayor? They seem to have a relationship that is suspicious to me. I noticed he is the owner of Cedar Valley Water and that Eagle Mountain city settled to him and his company to pay them $2.8 million dollars with the first payment of $2 million dollars to be paid February 5, 2012. Is it a coincidence that our utility bills went up so high to help cover these charges? That the meter readers broke and people didn’t receive real reads and in replace astronomical bills. Where did the city get the money so fast to pay off this settlement? Were their utility transfers made to general funds to cover these costs? Also explain each bond to me. How soon can we pay off each of these bonds. Its my understanding that even if we had the money we couldn’t pay them early, that there are pre payment penalties.

    Thanks for answering my questions.


  6. Personally I think that the. $25,000 grant for arts/parks would have been put to much better use on a park or the restrooms mentioned here than the over priced statue.

  7. Actually it was MORE than $2.8 million. It was $2. million within 14 days. The next payment of $500, 000. by March 14, 2014, then $300,000. by Feb 5, 2015. THEN comes the rest….. Beginning on the second anniversary of the effective fate, the City shall pay to CV the sum of $1.76 million PLIUS $720. multiplied by the # of residential building permits issued anywhere in the Vity after Feb 5, 2015 until the sum of the $1.76 million is paid in full. Find it all here:

  8. Actually it was MORE than $2.8 million. It was $2. million within 14 days. The next payment of $500, 000. by March 14, 2014, then $300,000. by Feb 5, 2015. THEN comes the rest….. Beginning on the second anniversary of the effective date, the City shall pay to CV the sum of $1.76 million PLUS $720. 00 multiplied by the # of residential building permits issued anywhere in the City after Feb 5, 2015 until the sum of the $1.76 million is paid in full. Find it all here:

  9. I spoke with Angie Ferre last year about getting my country band in the Pony Express Days. Her response to me was that they didn’t have any money for that kind of thing. She never even asked what the band fee would be. I don’t get the impression that they are interested in local talent.

  10. We are recent move-ins to EM city, and have owned a home within the city limits for nearly two years. While we haven’t yet had opportunity to vote in any of the municipal elections we are interested in the governance of the city. We are disheartened by the poor management by our current city elected officials and city administrator of the city’s budget and the city’s utility budget. We do not approve of the current management of these budgets and believe that the system of management has become corrupted and needs to undergo serious change. These changes should reflect greater fiscal responsibility and fairness towards citizens and users of the public utilities administered by the city.
    It has come to our attention that several of the departments within the city are using more than their fair share of the utility budget to pay their employee’s salaries. This is upsetting to us as citizens of the city and users of the utilities administered by the city. We understand that the city is administering the utilities, but, as we have had shown to us it appears that several of the departments within the city are using more than their fair share of the utility budget to cover their employees’ salaries. We know that we need to share in the cost of the installation of the infrastructure and the daily operations of the utilities, yet the city’s misuse of our utility money is something we won’t just stand by and allow to happen. We want the mayor and the city council along with the city administrator to be held accountable for their decisions regarding the city’s budget. We would like to know up front what our money is being used for. We certainly wouldn’t cast a vote for any mayoral or council candidate who continued to ignore the voice of the citizens by spending their tax dollars without approval of the majority. We are voters who are interested in financially responsible candidates who seek to involve their constituents in the processes of their government and follow best practices already used in so many other municipalities within the state. Many of the programs that the city has included in its budget need to have their costs disclosed and the general populace given a chance to give their input as to whether or not these programs are something that they would like to pay for. As has been pointed out to us, this is typically accomplished through the truth in taxation process associated with property tax rate increases. That is a well-established means of allowing citizens to have a say in their local government’s expenditures of tax dollars. The use of funds collected through utility billing to create a budget for youth councils, rodeos, or city celebrations is taxation without representation. We feel that we are well within our rights to demand that money collected from utility bills be used only for the repayment of debts incurred to install the infrastructure, servicing those debts, the daily operational costs associated with providing those utilities, and the costs of the commodities purchased by utility users. That is all that we are agreeing to pay for when we pay our utility bills. We would like to recommend to the mayor and council any surpluses that do come from collection of utility charges be used to pay off any debts associated with the provision of those utilities. It is our hope that by clearing those debts the city would be able to attract a private utility company willing to take over the operation of utilities within EM city. Most likely once a private utility took over utility rates would decrease, helping the city to attract new residents and businesses. This would also lead to a reduction in the responsibilities of the city’s administration thus reducing the demands on the city’s budget, making it easier to gain approval for additional programs which would be selected based on their contribution to quality of life for the citizens of EM city.
    For us the key issue is the misuse of funds collected through utility bills, but also concerning are the inflated salaries of many of the city’s employees and the apparent lack of due process in the city’s hiring practices. It is demoralizing to begin to see a picture in which our elected city officials use budget surpluses that they have created to pad their own salaries and pay for their own kickbacks. We certainly do not want to vote into office individuals who are willing to accept salaries richer than what is normal by fair market standards for their position.
    We do want to be able to support the city and its economic development. We do want to see good programs and services offered to the citizens of EM city; however we feel that it is more appropriate to use means such as fundraisers, ticket sales and due process in levying additional taxes to pay for those services and programs. We are willing to pay at the gate costs for special events and to support local businesses through our patronage.
    In summary we would like to see a change in how the city’s affairs are managed. We would like to see greater fiscal responsibility, we would like the utility budget to be used for utility costs only, and we are calling for more accountability in the city’s reporting of its budget. We are asking our elected officials to stop frivolous spending, on luxury items and inflated salaries for themselves, and on programs/events that have been created without full disclosure of the costs. Please show us that you can make the right choices and be responsible with the handling of your citizens’ contributions to the city budget. Show us that we can trust you to use our payments for utilities to pay for those utilities and not for your own purposes. Thank you for your efforts to make Eagle Mountain a great place to live.

    Matthew and Natalie Beck
    The Ranches

  11. Thanks, John.

    The HOA did mention, in one of the newsletters, that it maintains the walkways and common areas, if this is incorrect then are they giving us the wrong information? I know this does not include parks, sidewalks and roads.

    Regarding the stone signage that is on the entrance to the Ranches; I think we may may not be talking about the same signs.

    I am very happy that the voters had a say in the decision on the rec center, I remember voting against it. This makes me question parks and recreation along with our city administration…. Do they not understand fiscal responsibility? It seems they are living in another world where they believe they can raise taxes on us to pay for something we do not need. This is another reason for some of the outrage in the community.

    Thanks again for your answers.

  12. Thank you for your post. We have begun the budget process for this upcoming 2013-2014 fiscal year and will discuss the items you mention regarding employee salaries vs. competitive, more transparency in utility rate structure, and more clarity in revenues and expenses of utility funds and true transfer cost to general fund.

  13. there has been no rate change to the utilities. the settlement mentioned is due to an issue originating in 1996. only the gas meters experienced failures with the RFIDs, which resulted is jan being an estimate (dec. usage used for jan estimate) bills that were estimated will have a delta due between jan estimate and jan actual reflected on the feb bill. the high gas utility reads were from real reads. bond finance structuring protects the bond holders so that the payments are considered fixed income. Laura Lewis , the city financial advisor, explained the bonds in detail on Wednesday and they are discussed in each year’s city budget. the budget is available on the city website.

  14. perhaps some walkways, not the major pony express trail (8 ft wide blacktop from ranches to city center). ranches hoa does ranches common area maintenance.
    yes, different signs. correct – the large stone sign is maintained by ranches hoa.
    rec center – there were many voices in favor and opposed to the rec center. as a representative of the people, and using data from the survey conducted online; we as a council leaned opposed, but ultimately felt the residents should decide if they wanted a higher tax rate to fund a rec center. I personally voted against the rec center on the ballot, however, I do think allowing the residents to vote on the issue was the right decision.

  15. Alice, Ifo Pili would be the best contact to review the details of the cedar valley lawsuit. Jeremy Cook is our city attorney.

  16. I do not think the concert costs include city staff OT, but I am not certain. I am following up for additional records.

  17. Im not familiar with the transparency website or where they get their data. Some positions were eleminated and those responsibilities where spread out over multiple employees. Additionally, some city positions that were FTE were reduced to PTE through attrition. The yearly budget states how many positions were reduced during the year.

  18. city staffing levels and pay rates will be reviewed and evaluated as part of our yearly budget process. there are also data websites available that state ranges for positions.

  19. John and other council members,

    Can we get someone, other than the existing auditors we have used, to audit the city’s books regarding the “lost” 7 million dollar bond?

    I think we all deserve an explanation on that lost money.


  20. I wanted to clear up a few things I noticed wrong with the data in the EagleShare Report so I can be done with all of this…… except to the extent of staying involved in the community, reading the city meetings agenda, voting, and keeping informed on what is going on in the city & community. You can see the list of discrepancies (and supporting information) at this link:

    – Ashly in the Ranches

  21. Ashley,

    I appreciate the time and effort you put into your report. I have also done a bunch of research on this as well.

    I do have to say that you have made assumptions on why the city owes close to 50 million in bonds for city utilities, there are several factors other than the city just decided to pay for them out of their own pocket. There were some bad deals that went on in the begging days of the city where some developers, and you can probably guess who, re-neged on deals they made with the city when it came to paying for part of the utility expenses for the neighborhoods they were building. There are other factors as well, which include mismanagement of funds… etc. I plan on having a report published on the research I have done on this subject, hopefully it will be available before the election.

    Regarding salaries; while your arguments seem sound, it still doesn’t matter. The reason why is; this is our city. We don’t believe the Mayor should be paid such a high salary. I know you compared it to other cities, but most of those cities are larger cities with much more commerce. When you mentioned the small city that has an overpaid mayor along with a highly overpaid recorder, that is their business to pay them outrageous salaries. I disagree with it, period. If you remove the one example you had with that small city, and compare our Mayor’s salary to it, then she is grossly overpaid for the size of our town. You also need to understand that the benefits that several of the city workers receive are largely better than what you can find in the private sector. Receiving a 401K AND a pension is ridiculous. I have argued before that pensions not only hurt during financial downturns, they can bankrupt a city. I am perfectly fine with a 401K and a match of up to 4%, and since I am a tax payer in EM City, I should definitely have a say in what sort of retirement benefits the city employees receive. They work for me, I am their employer, I pay their salaries, we should have a say in this.

    I appreciate you finding out more information regarding other city utilities, but I honestly think it is past that point now, most of us are disgusted with the way things have been run in this city along with horrible budgeting and spending habits that are putting us even further into debt every year, this obviously needs to stop.

  22. I agree 100% that allowing us to vote for the rec center was the right decision. I appreciate the fact that you were able to make this happen.

Comments are closed.