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Transparency

Transparency

Many people do not realize that elected city officials often receive compensation outside of their regular salaries. These individuals serve on boards that provide additional compensation for their time. Generally speaking, the compensation is fairly modest and reasonable. However, gathering the information to understand what our elected officials are be paid can be time consuming and tedious.

This lack of transparency has arguably led to some abuse of the system. Elected officials are able to increase their compensation through service on various boards, like the board of Heber Light & Power, under the cover of bureaucracy. For this reason, I disclose every dollar I receive in compensation under my bio on the city website; and to this date, I am the only elected city official to do so. I am, and will remain, committed to transparency.

See for yourself here.

Utah’s Freest City

Utah’s Freest City

In 2015, the Libertas Institute named Heber the freest city in Utah. The recognition was based on a study that evaluated the degree to which local governments respect individual liberty, private property, and free enterprise. Heber had very high scores in all three categories.

Our city has always valued individual liberty, and this value has been an underlying theme of my years in public service. Because I value the freedom of property owners, I opposed the recent effort to rezone parts of Heber. Because I value individual liberty, I have opposed needless regulations and taxes. From low taxes, to strong property rights–I will always protect the individual liberty of our residents.

Learn more about the study here.

Why I Dismissed Heidi Franco & Kelleen Potter from the Board of Heber Light & Power

Why I Dismissed Heidi Franco & Kelleen Potter from the Board of Heber Light & Power

It is unfortunate, but necessary, to explain some of the details and events which led to the termination of board members Kelleen Potter and Heidi Franco. I do not wish to publicly humiliate these individuals, but it is important that the public understand the incompetence and breach of fiduciary duties that occurred, making the release of these board members necessary.

Let me give a little background on the situation to help you better understand what occurred. As per the organizational agreement for the Heber Light & Power Company, the Heber City board member representatives are there only under the direct appointment of the Heber City Mayor.  The Mayor can remove his appointees at any time, for any reason and at his discretion. Board members are not elected nor is the city council’s consent to the Mayor’s appointees on the Heber Light & Power board required. Appointed board members are completely under the direction of the Mayor, he is their boss.  There are six members of the Heber Light & Power Board. These six board members work together to resolve issues within the company. The Board as a whole determines what action the company will take and which policies will be changed.

As more information regarding the problems at Heber Light & Power came to light, Ms. Potter and Ms. Franco took it upon themselves to give a presentation to a local association without the knowledge or consent of the other board members. Sadly, a number of the statements they made in this presentation about Heber Light & Power were inflammatory, misleading, and even false. This unilateral action defamed the board and created unnecessary and damaging chaos, confusion, and distrust between Heber Light & Power employees and the public. This action alone was enough reason for the Heber Light & Power Board to dismiss Board Members Potter and Franco. They had no apparent or expressed or implied authority as board members to represent the company or the board.  The unauthorized presentation of inaccurate information was a violation of their fiduciary duties as members of the Board of Directors of Heber Light & Power. It also became a great stumbling block in our efforts to clean up and resolve the myriad issues Heber Light & Power was facing.

When I took the seat as chairman of the Heber Light & Power Board, the new board inherited a number of problems that had to be dealt with including: embezzlement from an employee, previous board members giving themselves unwarranted and unlawful pay increases, poor company management, and deep feelings of public mistrust for Heber Light & Power employees.  I had hoped that Ms. Potter and Ms. Franco would work with other board members to resolve the issues plaguing Heber Light & Power. However, when it became clear that Ms. Potter and Ms. Franco were adding to the problems and animosity at Heber Light & Power and jeopardizing company stability and viability with their improper conduct, action had to be taken.

 One of the Mayoral board members made this statement about their misconduct as a board member,“ Because of your presumptive actions, you have brought discredit to your fellow board members in the eyes of Company employees.  As for myself I ask you to write an open letter to these employees letting them know that your approach as a Board Director is not necessarily shared by other Directors.”

The Heber Light & Power board called a special board meeting to deal with their improper conduct as board members and address why they were making such statements about the employees and management, misrepresenting the Heber Light & Power board in the process.  Although Franco and Potter created this new problem, they refused to take responsibility and never showed up to the meeting to face the employees, management, or the board for the crisis they had created.

Although board members are free and even encouraged to share their opinions and thoughts as various issues are worked through, the belligerent and condescending way in which board members Potter and Franco addressed Heber Light & Power staff and fellow board members created stifling contention. It seemed their sharp comments were intended to belittle and to score political points rather than to aid in the healing and rebuilding process needed to restore the company. They repeatedly sought to publicly humiliate employees through insults and by challenging their knowledge and abilities in daily operations. This hostile behavior made them dysfunctional board members.

Anyone who has ever run a business understands how important it is keep the morale of your employees high. Ms. Potter and Ms. Franco failed to realize that morale has a tremendous impact on how well your company runs, and can have a major impact on your productivity, ability to retain talent, and your bottom line.  Ultimately, if we do not have employees to run the company efficiently, we cannot produce the necessary power for the valley. Their inability to communicate with the employees in an effective and professional manner seriously damaged employee morale. Their comments were so offensive and inflammatory that employees asked for a special meeting to discuss what Franco and Potter had been saying on the internet about their jobs, their wages, and their benefits.  I called a special company meeting with employees, management, and all board members.  Again, Potter and Franco never came to the meeting to address the issues the employees had with them.

The definition of and expectations associated with a closed meeting are common knowledge, when you come out of the meeting you are under oath not to talk about what went on there. If you do speak of what occurred in the closed meeting it is considered a breach of your fiduciary duties.  The board had been in a number of closed meetings reviewing the lawsuit pertaining to the CFO’s embezzlement. Board members were specifically told not to talk to the news media about what occurred in these meetings to prevent further damage to the company while data was still being analyzed to determine the best course of action. However, the Tribune newspaper came asking board members to talk about the case.  Staying faithful to the oath they had made, no one disclosed anything, with the exception of Board Member Franco. She broke her oath and disclosed some of what the company was doing to the newspaper.  This was another of many code of conduct and ethics violations that were violated. Leaking out closed meeting information is irresponsible and inappropriate and grounds to fire the board member for breach of their fiduciary duties as a Heber Light & Power Board member.

When Board members allow personal and political agendas to cloud their decision-making, and continually propose moves that benefit them personally or politically, but endanger the viability of the company, the image of the company is compromised.  Both Franco and Potter had multiple breaches of their fiduciary duties which compromised the company publicly.

Finally, as a result of their reckless and incompetent behavior, I had numerous requests to terminate Ms. Potter and Ms. Franco. The other board members requested that they be released from the board, employees of Heber Light & Power sent me a written letter requesting that they be released from the board, and other members of the city council asked that they be removed.  My decision to finally release them from the Heber Light & Power board was supported by the board, the employees, and other city council members.  Unfortunately, the list above were just a few of their fiduciary responsibility violations.

Heber Light & Power

Heber Light & Power

As Chairman of the Board of Heber Light & Power, I have worked with the other Mayors and board members to bring about a positive change to the company.  The board has worked together with management to ensure the company’s integrity is preserved and that it is financially sound.   A vital part of this change came in the hiring of a new General Manager. I am happy to report that he has provided strong leadership and is moving the company forward to meet all the challenges that are inherent in the electric company business.

Heber Light and Power has also adopted a better rate structure system for residential and commercial customers. This change will help to prevent the subsidization of some customers by others. Another necessary change occurred in employee policies. We have gone through the personnel policies of the employees and have made (and will continue to make) appropriate cuts and changes to better serve the rate payers and to strengthen the company.

The board and management hired a new CFO.  The new CFO and the board have set up a strong security system to watch over the finances of the company.   We have moved from in house legal, to out sourcing our legal counsel.

Most importantly, as I promised, I personally made sure all the money from the insurance increase of the previous board members and city council members, was paid back in entirety.

Thanks to these changes and the dedication of the Heber Light & Power employees, services provided by Heber Light & Power have been recognized as being among the best in state.  The employees are knowledgeable, professional, and they take great pride in their work and in the company. All of these accomplishments and many more have been a team effort with the board and management working together.

Managing Growth

Managing Growth

If you ask any resident why Heber Valley is so special to them, they will probably tell you about beautiful mountain ranges, the open sky lines, the clear starry nights, and the good people of this valley. These are all things that make Heber Valley a special place to live and they can never be purchased or replaced.

With the rapid pace of new growth in Heber, it is easy to see how we could quickly lose the things we cannot replace.

Over the past few decades, Heber Valley has experienced unprecedented growth. The once small farming community of Heber that I grew up in is now covered with new homes and businesses.  As is their right, land owners are finding new uses for their land and existing properties.  The challenge with new land uses is knowing how to keep the identity of our small town and integrate it with the new growth.

Seeing firsthand the challenges new growth presents, I invited Envision Utah and Mountain Lands to give a presentation to the city council regarding strategies that can be incorporated to help us best manage our rapid growth and development.   Partnering with one of these groups would be very beneficial as Heber City does not have the staffing in place nor the expertise required to pull together the huge quantities of data that must be analyzed in order to create a community that we all enjoy living in and that is business-friendly. The city and the county must work together on these issues and prepare now for future growth.  The City will need impact fees and good planning advice to get ahead of this growth.  We must recognize that constant growth is here and will continue. We need to prepare now for the changes that will inevitably come so that we can maintain our beautiful community and allow Heber City to thrive during this process.

Growing Business

Growing Business

Businesses are the lifeblood of our economy in Heber City. I have been a small business owner in this valley for over 30 years and this experience helps me to better understand what businesses need in order to thrive.

Companies like to vet out cities like Heber; we are being vetted out all the time to see if coming to Heber is a viable option. Companies spend a lot of money collecting data and information to aid them in the decision-making process.  These data miners not only know how the residents are spending their money, but what credit cards they use.

Companies interested in moving to Heber or expanding a business that is here currently will look for land that is prepared.  They will also evaluate building availability, city amenities, services, culture of the city, and how quickly they can move through the city’s planning and permitting process.

To make our city more business-friendly and attractive to new and existing businesses, I asked the city to develop 38 acres of land at the airport industrial park. This development will not only provide more space for larger businesses, but it will also provide an incubator building for small businesses that are just starting out.

Opposition to Rezoning

Opposition to Rezoning

One of the most important issues we face is the protection of your rights as an American Citizen.  I have worked hard to ensure that these individual liberties remain intact.  Last year when the City Council tried to pass a form based code that would significantly restrict private property rights, I personally went door to door to families and businesses informing and warning them of how this code was going to take away their rights and change our City to be like a socialistic European city.  I encouraged citizens to come to the public hearing to express their opinions. I wrote a letter in the Wave and tried to explain to the public what the council was doing.  If the citizens had not shown up, certain members of the city council would have passed the form based code. This is the power you have as citizens when you knit together and express your views to your elected officials. If you look back at the actions taken by council members at that time, it becomes clear who actually supported this legislation. I would encourage you to look at what Council member Potter did in particular as she is also running for office, or perhaps more accurately, what she did not do to stop this legislation before it came to a vote.

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness

Natural disasters like the devastating Hurricane Harvey in Texas show us the importance of always being prepared for an emergency. Utah is earthquake country and Heber City would be greatly affected should a large earthquake occur in this area. I have worked with city and county employees and officials to create a plan for our valley in the event of a large earthquake or other natural disaster. I have also encouraged individual citizens to learn the skills necessary to care for themselves and their loved ones should we be faced with such a calamity. Over the last 3 years, I have been a strong proponent of the Community Emergency Response Team or CERT training program. I sincerely believe every capable citizen should attend the CERT training program to be prepared for natural disasters.  We had over 40 people complete that training last year. I have personally completed the course and have asked members of the city council to take the course as well. I am hopeful that they will take my advice and obtain the proper training to help them better understand how to deal with a natural disaster in the City. I feel one of the key roles of a mayor is to promote the safety of the citizens they serve.

Airport Expansion

Airport Expansion

I do not support the expansion of the airport. My feelings have never changed on what kind of airport I would like to see the city have from the time my Uncle Russell had his P-51 Mustang out there. I want the airport to continue to house small aircraft like my uncle Russell’s P-51 Mustang, not commercial jets.

Unfortunately, recent actions by city council members like Councilwoman Potter have entered the City into a perpetual agreement with the FAA that will eventually lead to airport expansion. I did not support the City Council’s vote to purchase the Maverick property. I told members of the council that it was only a recommendation from the FAA to buy the property and that the city did not have to purchase the property.  The vote by certain City Council Members to purchase the Maverick property came at great cost to Heber City.  When this purchase was made, not only did the city lose over $150,000 in sales tax a year from the loss of the Maverick station, but it entered the city into a perpetual agreement with the FAA and opened the door for The FAA to force the city to go to a C2 airport.  Despite claims to the contrary, there were no safety or property density issues with the property and the gas tanks would have been buried underground. I would not have voted for the purchase of the Maverick property, like Council Member Potter.

Transportation

Transportation

Transportation issues like the traffic on Main Street are a major concern to all of us. I have been working with UDOT to see what we can do together to solve this problem in the long run, but also what we can do in the short term until the by-pass road is built.  I personally met with the UDOT commissioners and spent half a day with them as we took a bus tour of main street and the rest of the valley. They became keenly aware of the traffic problems on Main Street as well as other transportation problems in Heber City. The commissioners expressed their appreciation for what the city and county are doing to prepare the way for the Western Bypass.