Sunday, July 11, 2010

THE LETTER

NOTE:
This letter was received prior to the IMPACT program going on the air one morning. I am unsure of the source or the author.. But it does contain certain facts that can be supported by source information or found in city minutes. But also, like most unsigned letters, it does contain interpolations and unsupported allegations. It is printed here for information only and should not be construed to represent any fact, person or thing. There is no information as to whom this letter is being addressed to.



I am writing you in regards to your request that I share some of the reasons I am leaving. I want you to know that the decision for me to leave Heber City was not an easy decision. I feel that there is a lot of work that needs to be done within the city and I have a hard time walking away from a job that I feel is only partially completed. Having said that, there were factors that made the decision easier for my wife and I. Below is a list of some of the factors that lead me to make the decision I did. I am being honest, and not pulling any punches. I really appreciate your desire to understand why I made the decision I did. I feel that a true man is one who seeks to gain understanding from all sources, so thank you.
ò The attitude of the City Council towards staff, boards and commissions. I recognize that this is not a universal attitude shared by all members of the City Council. There is an attitude that staff is expendable, boards are incompetent and the City Council is superior over all. It was very disheartening to see the budget process unfold and have the Council feel that it was acceptable to reduce benefits and pay to employees who are paid less than most across the state, and who had not received an increase in pay (including COLA) in the last two years. The employees had already made sacrifices, but the Council seemed to think that the employees should be comfortable sacrificing more so that the Council has a good report with the public and can get reelected again. The closed minded approach that was taken is honestly scary. I have a hard time understanding how cutting employees and decreasing moral of the employees of a city benefits the general public of that city. Sure it does balance the budget, but at what cost? What happens when all the knowledge and experience is gone? Also, I was somewhat offended that the City Council was willing to pay $7,000-$15,000 to help Mr. Miller install sidewalk, curb and asphalt, when he was required by an agreement he signed to do those things; yet employee raises are out of question. How are the employees of Heber City supposed to feel good about making cuts when "the public" can walk in and get whatever it wants by asking in a public meeting? It seems as if decisions are made which will make the Council look good at the moment, but they have lasting effects. It seems as if the Council doesn't always have the entire public good in mind when making decisions. How is it fair for the general public to pay for Mr. Miller's sidewalk and asphalt which he knew he had to install when he subdivided his property? How can the Council say no to Ivory homes when it comes in and asks the same question? By
making decisions based on an individual, or based on helping an individual, it leads to
inconsistent decisions and direction. Another issue that comes to mind is the airport service building. The Council appointed members to the Airport Board to help make decisions easier. The board makes a recommendation, and the Council could care less about it. They want to make the decision on their own. If the Council was so interested in the presentations for the building proposals, why didn't they go to the meeting with the Airport Board when they were invited? Instead the Council has wasted 3-4 months because they what to make the decision on their own. They don't want to be influenced by a board that was created to give them a recommendation on decisions like this. In what world does that make sense?
ò The lack of vision that has been shown by the Council. The Council has no desire to better the community. One example that comes to mind is when Paul Kennard came before the Council and had a desire to move forward with some development on the 40 acre piece of land by the airport. Instead of exploring options to bring some jobs to the valley the Council wants to just let that land sit. The airport is another area of concern. The airport is a huge asset for the city, but the Council treats it like it is a plague. I understand that the hangers have not sold like projected, but you don't give the farm away when the corn is a week or two coming up. I have heard that there is a feeling that Heber City is completely developed and there is no need for a Planning Department. Granted I did not hear this myself, but I have to admit that I can believe that other members of the City Council feel this way. Heber City has so much potential. There are so many good things that are possible, if the leadership of the City start looking down the road. There are numerous cities in the state that are doing all they can to bring businesses into their communities, yet Heber City has Council members doing all they can to drive away the biggest retailer in the country.
ò The lack of community identity. I feel that Heber City really struggles with an identity. When one talks about Park City it is clear what the city is and what is important to the city. Heber City does not have an identity that everyone buys into or even understands. I know Heber is very unique with the diversity of people and backgrounds it has but that is no reason to not be unified in understanding who we are and where the city is headed. The General Plan is a document that is intended to help bring this unity and vision, but it is under utilized by the City. The other point I would like to make is the lack of involvement with the community the City has. The City is quickly becoming a water and sewer district alone. Heber City has a record of letting others including Wasatch County take the lead in the community. Heber City offers no community fairs or festivals. Heber City has no recreation department or offers no recreational activities. These may seem like small things, but these are the things communities come together for. Those are the things the community takes pride in.
ò The lack of desire to gain understanding by the leadership of the City. When the two new City Council member were elected last winter, one of them failed to show up for any training offered by the staff. There was no desire to understand what staff does, what the goals are for the city, or how things operate. It is hard to ignore the arrogance of certain members of the Council and their belief that they know everything, without any input from others outside their social circle. Heber City paid for training for the Council to go to St. George several months ago. One Council member didn't go. He had a good excuse I'm sure. I felt it was a slap in the face of city employees when the city pays for a conference and then the Council member doesn't even show up. He expects us to be okay with cuts, while he wastes money. I have felt at times that members of the Council have sought the advice of those outside of the City rather than coming to the source, staff. I have also struggled with the fact that certain Council members feel that they are above the city ordinances. To have someone get elected to the City Council when they have been operating a business within the City limits for years without a business license completely floored me. Another Council member built a huge garage without a building permit, and on at least three other times has done things in direct violation of Heber City ordinances, yet doesn't care. How can an organization survive when the leadership doesn't support the very thing it has sworn to uphold?
ò The last factor is more of an internal issue that has concerned me for a long time. Within the planning department we have a huge lack of leadership and organization. This has lead to what
I feel to be huge inefficiency. There have been a lot of responsibilities that I feel are the Planning Departments that have been farmed out to other departments. The amount of output from the Planning Department has been weak at best. I understand that this situation may be changing in September, but I feel that it is long overdue. With staff this change was necessary years ago. Once this change is made I know that the Planning Department can make huge leaps ahead as far as efficiency, organization and involvement with the community. I also want you to know that Tony cannot be the lone planner for this community. Tony has amazing abilities, but to place the whole load of planning on him would be detrimental. Please push hard to find him adequate help with his duties. Unfortunately the problems with employees not pulling their own weight is not limited to the Planning Department. As I have talked with others in different departments there are those that take advantage of Heber City's somewhat lax performance standards. I am not sure if the City Council is aware or receives updates about complaints made against employees, but I feel it would be beneficial if the Council was aware of those complaints as well as employees performance reviews. No organization can succeed when % of the employees carry the other %.
The ideas I listed above may be offensive to some, but keep in mind they are my opinions. In no way am I saying that I have all the answers and that my way is the right way. From my experience and perspective I feel the above issues to be a factor in my decision to leave Heber City. I do not have an axe to grind and I am not a disgruntled employing trying to bring down the organization that did me wrong. I enjoyed my time here in Heber City, and I am sad to see it end, but it is my decision. I feel there is so much potential in this town. I think now more than ever there needs to be more public involvement, as well as stronger leadership. There needs to be some pride injected back into the community and this may be difficult without the support of staff. The employees of Heber City are hired to help accomplish the vision and goals the Council has, not to be a road block.
I hope my thoughts can help in some way. I am not opposed to you sharing them with others, if
it can help Heber City.