I'm am often asked many questions as a council member and a candidate. This is where you will find answers to the most common questions voters have asked me. When I respond to questions via email I will include them here:
What makes you different from the other candidates?
The largest difference between me and the other candidates is my professional experience, my long-term service and commitment to our community, and my experience with local government.
I am a CPA, CRMA, CGMA, and I hold numerous securities licenses (7, 24, 27, 50, 52, 53, 54, 66, 79). I’m a licensed municipal advisor. I'm a Senior Risk Manager responsible for risk and compliance oversight of billions of assets under administration. I have significant professional experience in analyzing a wide variety of processes, finding ways those items can be improved, and implementing action plans to implement the improvements.
I have lived in the city since 2006. I have been actively working for the betterment of our community since 2008. First, as a member of the Saratoga Springs City Finance Committee from 2008 through 2013, and then a city council member from 2014 until now.
I have worked diligently over the past eight years as your council member to make our good city better. However, the city isn't perfect and there are opportunities for improvement.
I have many years of experience dedicated to making good things better, and I have proven that I can apply those skills to our wonderful city the past four years as your council member.
What is your stance on property rights? How have you improved my rights over the past four years?
I believe in local control and less government involvement. More government involvement typically leads to a reduction in property rights. I'm a big supporter of property rights and reducing government involvement in our daily lives. Over the last four years, we have returned many fundamental property rights back to property owners by giving homeowners more freedom and reducing requirements and restrictions.
How do you suppose the city will be different, or better managed, after this next 4-year term, if you are re-elected?
Over the past eight years, I have learned how to be a very effective council member. I have learned over the last 6 years while I've been a voting member of the Utah League of Cities and Towns about the importance of actively engaging other government agencies to improve our city and the state of Utah overall.
I plan to work with the mayor, council, and staff to continue active engagement with the Alpine School district and other entities to ensure information is shared between entities so we can better service our community and help reduce expenses. Although the Alpine School District is a separate and distinct public entity, our property taxes fund the school district. If we all the governmental agencies work closely together, we can increase services without increasing the tax burden.
We will see more businesses in our city being announced over the next few months due to the leadership by the Mayor, current council, and staff.
We have been actively working with the staff to improve customer service and responsiveness to residents. This has significantly improved over the last year, but I expect that we will see additional improvements over the next four years.
Over the last eight years we have returned many fundamental property rights back to the residents and I expect this trend to continue.
What are your thoughts on the city’s planned improvements to the city’s water system?
For a number of years, the city has had to play catch-up on the water system. We worked with our staff to identify those projects that need to be done in order to finally get ahead of the growth. As a result, we have recently invested millions in these projects. These projects are creating redundancies in the system across the city. This will improve water pressures, allow continued service in all areas of the city if one sources goes down, and will eliminate the need to supplement irrigation water with culinary water. These projects are huge for the long-term needs of current residents. All of this has been done without raising taxes.
Can you please tell me your thoughts on the water meters that were put in place in the city? I was told that was a unanimous decision. I would like to know if that is the case. I also want to know whether you thought it was a good idea or not. I want to know if you like the plan to pay for them. Can you explain the thought process of going into debt so that everyone was included at once, even if they came in under a different plan. Did it accomplish what you hoped?
The installation of the water meters was a unanimous decision by the council. Before I was on the council, the city had spent a great deal of effort to encourage and educate residents on conserving water. Those efforts were not globally effective and the city overall was using exponentially more water on average per home than the state recommendation. If fact, so much water was being used that the City was not able to sustain the rate of water usage by the existing residents without extreme investments in water rights and infrastructure. We were faced with a choice: (1) We invest millions upon millions of dollars to substantially increase water rights and infrastructure for current residents in order to support excessively high water usage and make all the residents pay the same amount of money regardless of their usage, or (2) install water meters to help curb water usage and make those who conserve water pay less and those who use excessive amounts of water use more (e.g., pay for what you use).
The installation of the water meters was significantly less costly than adding huge amounts of infrastructure necessary to support the high water usage. In either case, the city would have had to bond because we didn't have the cash on hand to support the immediate needs. I supported the meters because (1) meters were less expensive to the current residents versus building enough infrastructure to support extreme overuse, (2) residents who conserve water would see lower bills in the long run, and (3) each resident pay for what they actually use versus residents who conserve water paying for neighbors who water 3 times a day every day.
Ultimately, the water usage has dropped overall the last two years and we have not had to make significant investments in the water infrastructure to support the needs of the existing residents. This does not mean we aren't investing in infrastructure to address the growth and existing home owners, but this cost is being primarily borne by developers versus throwing the cost of the added infrastructure solely on currently resident. New infrastructure for new homes should be paid by the new home owners and developers, not existing residents. But, often the new infrastructure in new development ties into the overall system and also helps existing homes.
While I understand that bonding and water meters may not have been been a popular decision for some, I didn't make the decision based on what would make me popular. I made the decision based on finding the best way to keep utility bills lower for residents over the long haul, not just for the immediate future. I am a CPA and I spend a significant amount of time analyzing costs and projecting costs/expenses over the multiple years. Also, being a CPA, I'm naturally very fiscally conservative with my personal finances, and I apply those same principles and analysis to city financing. Anytime we consider debt, I spend a considerable amount of time evaluating. My goal is always to keep fees and taxes as low as possible while maintaining necessary service levels. In any case, the funds collected in the water funds are not transferred out to other funds to supplement general city expenses. You asked if I thought meter was a "good" idea. I'll say that I believed meters were the best option to keep fees lower over the long term and address an immediate problem.
Clearly, I won't always agree with every resident, but you can be assured that all my decisions are thoughtful, deliberate, and based on facts available to me. I don't make emotional decisions or short-term decisions, my decisions are forward looking as that is what I do professionally.
Can you tell me if you will ever vote for another tax increase, whether it's property taxes or fee increases that go to supplement city expenses.
First, I never have voted for a property tax increase nor would I support a future property tax increase. Second, I have not nor will I ever vote for a utility fee increase to "supplement" city expenses. I am opposed to cities using utility fees to supplement general expenditures.
Further, we just approved a property tax decrease!
Is the financial health of the city strong? What concern do you have related to financial stability?
The city is extremely healthy financially. I have been involved with the city since 2008. I was appointed to a volunteer position on the Saratoga Springs Finance Committee and served on that committee from 2008 - 2013 until i was elected to the city council.
The city was in a very difficult financial situation at that time, and over the last 9 years I have been able to work with Mayor Jim Miller, Councilman Michael McOmber, and many others to bring our city to the point that it is now.
Over the last eight years, we have remained one of the most fiscally conservative cities in the state. While other cities raised property taxes, our property taxes have decreased
We have expanded library services, improved police and fire staffing to adequately protect our residents, and invested millions in infrastructure all without increasing taxes.
For the ninth year in a row, the city was awarded the Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting demonstrating the city’s financial activities are transparent and disclosed.
As a CPA and finance professional, I have the deep background and expertise necessary ensure we remain on the path of fiscal responsibility for years to come.
I have worked with the city staff and we now produce financial key risk indicators regularly reported to the council that identify any areas of decreasing revenue that allows the city council to make pro-active decisions to avoid the problems of 2008
How do you support our city fire and police departments? Have you toured their stations recently and seen their accomplishments with their minimal budgets? Are you aware of their goals for the future?
I believe our city is very fortunate to have some of the best police and fire chiefs in the state. They are able to accomplish and serve our community without having astronomical budgets. For example, we have had a number of fires in our area, and our fire department has been almost immediately on the scene to stop the fires before any significant damage occurs. Their efforts were heroic during the 2020 file and no homes in the city were lost during the fire.
I am reliant on the expertise of our fire and police chiefs to let us know if our staffing is insufficient. Over the past eight ears, both the police and fire department has come to use with additional staffing needs in order to continue to adequately protect our residents. We worked with both of them and approved appropriate staffing increases to both division, and this was done without raising taxes. We were able to do this because our growth in city staffing is in line with the growth of the city. As the tax base increases, we are able to conservatively grow these services. During the last four years, we have worked with all of the departments to develop quantitative metrics that monitor the responsiveness and quality of the services our emergency departments provide. This allows the chiefs and the city council to make informed and timely decisions.
How do you support basic citizen needs, such as shelter, food, culinary water, clean air and water, and emergency services?
Over the last eight years we have improved police and fire staffing to ensure our residents are protected in the event natural disasters. Also, we approved the Mountainland Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Plan, which is a valuable resource for minimizing or eliminating impacts to the City and its residents in the event of a hazard or disaster. We continue to build redundancies in the water system so that if we have problems in one area of the city, we have backup water in other parts that can service the entire city. We are building out all of the infrastructure in the city to have redundancies to protect our residents in the event of a disaster.