HIGHLAND, Utah — City officials blame added costs for public safety to increase staffing in Cedar Hills and Alpine for the rise in expenses per household in Highland by 58.6 percent since 2000 to $2,054.
Highland’s expenses per household have seen a 5.9 percent compound annual growth since 2000 while it’s revenue capped at 4.11 percent.This could mean the city’s expenses are growing at a faster pace than its generated revenues.
“Our largest expense since I’ve been in office has probably been our police and fire,” said Highland City Mayor Lynn Ritchie in a phone interview with the Deseret News.
Bonding for major capital projects before his time in office, like a $1.8 million water park in the city, have put the city in a cash flow bind, Ritchie said.
The Highland city council voted unanimously in March 2012 to prevent any future bonding without a public vote.
The Lone Peak Public Safety District, which provides Fire, EMS and Police services to Alpine, Cedar Hills and Highland City, voted to raise the level of staffing for each city in May 2011.
Highland City’s public safety expenses are expected to rise by 17.8 percent by the end of 2012 compared to last year, according to the city’s financial records. Expenses are expected to rise another 2.5 percent in 2013.
Part of Lone Peak’s plan was to ensure each city had at least four firefighters in each city, but because Highland was already fully staffed, the city ended up paying for nothing, said City Councilman Tim Irwin, in a phone interview.