Welcome to a New Year!

It has been my honor to serve as a City Council member for the past six years and I look forward to continuing to serve Cedar Hills as mayor over the next four years. We have many important issues to discuss and, as always, I welcome your input and feedback as we make decisions for our community.

Communication and transparency have been and will continue to be a priority for me. While I will continue to have a monthly column in the city newsletter, one of the best ways to receive timely and in-depth updates from me is to follow my Facebook page at facebook.com/mayorjenneyrees or to visit this blog. I plan on using this blog to keep residents informed on city issues, as well provide updates from the county and state that impact our community. You may also email me at jrees@cedarhills.org if you wish to receive email updates of the messages posted here.

Because I will now be responsible for chairing City Council meetings, I won’t be typing notes during the meeting and posting to the blog I used to maintain as a council member. However, I will post a brief update by the next day on the topics that were discussed and voted on. This will be posted to my Mayor Jenney Rees Facebook page.

While Cedar Hills is nearly built out, Utah County is still growing, and it is important that we prepare for that growth and preserve those aspects of our community that make Cedar Hills a great place to live. I look forward to working with the City Council, city staff, and residents as we plan for our future.

Meet the Candidates Q&A

A big thank you to the Cedar Ridge PTA for hosting our meet-the-candidates event. Also, thank you to all those who attended and submitted questions. For those who were unable to attend, below are the questions we received and my responses. I am happy to discuss these or any other topics that we didn’t address.

Is the current status of Canyon Road in Cedar Hills acceptable?  If not, what will you do to make it acceptable in the next 4 years?

The current status is unacceptable. There are several known safety issues that exist along this road, including lack of center turn lanes, lack of shoulders and sidewalks, visibility issues, drainage issues, and surface damage. Through a deal with the State, the County took ownership of the road in 2014 and while they are looking at making some small improvements, the only thing they plan on doing for the portion of the road located in Cedar Hills is an overlay. The county commissioners have fought against adding safety improvements by claiming that there are no safety issues, or stating that county roads don’t have safety features such as curb and gutter, sidewalks, and bike lanes.

While most county roads may not have these features, this does not have to be the case for every county-owned road. The commissioners have the authority to create policy for infrastructure and could decide that safety features for roads should be based on the traffic counts, road designation, and location of the road, not solely on who owns the road. Canyon Road has average daily traffic counts that exceed 10,000 – far higher than any other road owned by Utah County. This road is highly traveled and is considered both a connector and arterial road. In addition to being a connector/arterial, it serves as an access point to American Fork Canyon.

Funding safe roads and infrastructure is an essential role of government and should be a priority. While I realize that an overlay will soon be coming for Canyon Road to address some of the surface issues, I will continue to advocate for the County to address all safety issues that exist on this road. As Utah County citizens, we pay taxes to the county and deserve to have our concerns regarding safety taken seriously.

Do you support commercial zoning of St. Andrews Estates?

I do not. This area was originally part of the golf course and zoned open space. Later when that land was reconfigured, it was zoned residential and an agreement was entered into with the original developer to grant some residential density in that area. I believe any commercial development should occur in our already established commercial zone. I do not support re-zoning any of our residential or open space areas for commercial use.

Do you support zoning St. Andrews Estates as open space, for future use as park space? (This could include a dog park, mountain biking trail, or numerous other uses, either with a fence to shelter people from golf balls or reconfiguration of the course to provide for a different space on the hillside for public use. This may be 10+ years in the future.)

I am open to this option. The city spent approximately $600,000 to reconfigure the golf course to create the residential lots known as St. Andrews Estates, with the intent that the proceeds from the sale of these lots would be used to pay down the golf course debt. If that doesn’t happen, then the city wasted $600,000 and changed the golf course for the worse for no benefit. I also support paying down our golf course bond as quickly as we can. My only reservation is for the people who may purchase those lots. Over the six years I’ve served on the Council we’ve heard from residents who live, walk, and play near the driving range. We’ve heard complaints about property being damaged due to stray golf balls going over the fence, about pedestrians and cars being hit by golf balls, and concerns soccer teams have had with the number of golf balls landing at Mesquite Park. We eventually approved the money to construct higher nets at the driving range to reduce these issues. If there is a high likelihood of damage to homes, or if the safety of those living below the hole on the east of Canyon Road is going to be an issue, I would rather see that land re-zoned open space. However, I would encourage that we re-seed it with native vegetation and let it blend in with the mountain. If it is too risky to build homes there due to damage from golf balls, it is also too risky to have people recreating in the area. I don’t believe it makes sense to spend more money trying to reconfigure the golf course again.

The city recently purchased 12 acres to develop a park. Would you prefer to complete the park in phases that may or may not cost more due to the fast growth in construction costs over several years or finish the park all at once issuing debt at relatively low interest rates?

My preference would be to finish the park all at once. While saving up for large expenditures makes sense with our personal finances, it doesn’t when it comes to government projects. The reason for this is that many may pay taxes to the city, which is then saved up for a project, only to move before the project is completed, and therefore never benefit from the money they contributed. However, if a bond is issued and the project is completed all at once, then those paying for the bond now are also enjoying the benefit now. I also support this option as a bond can go on a ballot for residents to vote on whether or not to fund a project of this size.

Public safety–fire and police contracts will be renewed or updated in the next 2 years with substantial increases likely to maintain the level of service. Would you want to raise taxes or fees to maintain or increase the level of service for fire and/or police, or would you be willing to consolidate fire stations or move police services to another partner to reduce costs?

Public safety is our largest budget expenditure and will continue to rise, which is the case for other cities as well. This is an issue that needs more research and discussion. We need data showing response times from every station within Lone Peak Public Safety, as well as from neighboring cities. We need to know what are considered acceptable standards for response times and how neighboring agencies can meet those for us if we did decide to make a change. While we currently have fire stations in Highland, Alpine, and Cedar Hills, the stations in Alpine and Cedar Hills are rarely fully staffed, which suggests consolidation may be an option. Once we have all the data on what options are available, what the response times will be for each of those options, and what the cost will be for each option, we need to have a discussion as a community on what level of service we are willing to pay for. It may be that if we want to continue with what was originally planned, which is a fully-staffed fire station in our city, we will need to pay more in taxes to cover the cost.

Nobody wants to pay for legal services, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil to protect the city residents desires. Should the city spend funds fighting for residents desires on legal cases that are probable or likely to lose? At what point do you limit your spending on legal services? $100,000, 1 million or until the city is bankrupt?

I would never support bankrupting the city for any legal expense, nor would I support fighting a battle that our attorney said we were going to lose. Whenever legal services have been required, we work closely with our attorney to decide on the best course of action. It is important for the mayor and council to work closely with the city attorney to understand the expense and risks of any course of action for every lawsuit, and when allowed, to communicate to residents why the final decision was made.

What are your thoughts on a community swimming pool in Cedar Hills?

While that would be a wonderful addition to our community, I don’t believe it makes financial sense. We will be paying off the golf course bond for some time, and our population size makes it challenging to fund additional large projects. In a recent survey conducted throughout the city, residents were provided information on three different types of pools and asked if they would support a bond to fund the pool. On the $5million bond, which would increase taxes approximately $13/month per household, 63% of residents said no. On the $9million bond, which would increase taxes approximately $22/month per household, 61% of residents said no. On the $12million bond, which would increase taxes approximately $27/month per household, 70% of residents said no. When asked about a $1.5million bond to build a splash pad, which could require a monthly tax increase of approximately $3.50/month per household, 52% of residents said yes. With this information, if we are going to have a water facility of any kind, it makes the most sense to build a splash park at our newly acquired park in the southern portion of the city.

What skills or expertise would you bring to the council that the current council members don’t already have?

I have been serving on the City Council for almost six years and am running for mayor this year. One of the important roles of the mayor is to serve as the official spokesperson and represent the city in a variety of ways. This includes serving on boards and interacting with officials from throughout the state. In order to best represent the community, it is essential for the mayor to communicate with fellow elected officials and staff, and to consistently engage with residents to best understand the desires residents have for the city. I have worked hard over the past six years to engage with residents through a variety of formats and will continue to do so. I provide all my notes from Council meetings on my blog, and I am actively engaged in sharing information and responding to questions through social media. I share my notes and updates from my assignments with the City Council and work with staff to make sure I understand all sides of the issues we face. I will encourage communication and collaboration with elected officials, staff, and residents as we work to address the needs and concerns of the city. I will proactively share information that I am legally allowed to as it relates to our city and/or on issues that impact our community and quality of life, and will solicit feedback on those issues. I remain committed to representing the will of our residents.

How would you attract businesses to the commercial zone (Be specific.)?

We recently updated our commercial zoning ordinances to more accurately define the intended purpose of the commercial zone and describe what is allowed and what is prohibited. This was based on feedback received from residents over the past several years and helped clarify any portions of our code that some felt were unclear. As for attracting businesses, the biggest factor for commercial development is population. While our population is small, there are things happening now that make our commercial zone more desirable. First, it appears the State Legislature is prepared to move forward with developing their land just south of Lone Peak High School. Part of this development will include single-family and high-density housing, which brings more people to the area who need goods and services. Additionally, the east-west connector road should be approved in the next legislative session, which will connect Cedar Hills to American Fork through the southern portion of that land and make it easier for residents in Cedar Hills, Alpine, Highland, and American Fork to get all four cities. As this road will be near our commercial zone, that also increases the value of the area.

We are currently under contract on the nine acres owned by the city, just south of Harts, but I cannot provide more information than that at this time. The rest of the property in our commercial area is privately owned, but the items mentioned above also make their land more desirable to commercial developers.

What have you done as a volunteer or otherwise to be engaged with the city?

I have volunteered for numerous beautification projects. I have served as the volunteer coordinator on the Family Festival Committee for the past two years and volunteer at every Family Festival event. I currently volunteer every Friday for the American Fork Police Victim’s Advocate Department.

What is your position on the PARC tax?

I support the PARC tax. If approved, it would add an additional 0.1% tax on all retail items sold in Cedar Hills, which means that for every $10 spent in a retail establishment within Cedar Hills, the city would assess a tax of one penny. By collecting this small sales tax, residents and non-residents who shop in Cedar Hills assist in generating funds for parks, arts, and recreational opportunities within the city. While this tax is minimal, it has the ability to have a large positive impact on our community and quality life. Our parks, trails, and community events are highly valued and provide the sense of community that makes Cedar Hills a place where people want to raise families and enjoy time together as friends and neighbors. The PARC tax provides revenue for those things—parks, trails, and community events–most desired by our residents. Because it is a tax added to retail sales, residents from other cities that shop in Cedar Hills also contribute to the revenue generated for these services. Our commercial district, adjacent to Walmart, is now on the verge of expanding. As these retail opportunities expand in our city, the PARC tax can provide funding for such things as the completion of our trails system, completion of our newly-acquired 12-acre park near Deerfield Elementary, and the provision of community services.

Lindon, PG, AF and other cities around us have senior centers. We’re too small to afford that. What, if anything, should / could Cedar Hills do to provide more support/activities / engagement for seniors in the community?

If there is a desire for this among seniors in our community, I would like to see activities scheduled at the Community Center. The purpose of this building is to provide these types of community opportunities for residents, and I would love to see it utilized more for these types of activities.

Would you support a tax/bond increase to make improvements to Canyon Road beyond what the county is willing to do?

No. The County owns this road and is responsible for improvements. When the County approached us about taking ownership of Canyon Road, we hired an outside firm to provide us with information on what it would cost us over a 30 year period to maintain it to acceptable standards. Without adding any new safety features such as sidewalks and bike lanes, it was estimated to be $5 million. If safety improvements were added, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, roundabouts, etc, the cost would be much higher. Our city is not in a position to take on the financial responsibilities of a regional road like Canyon Road.

Communication with residents is a challenge for the city government. What would you suggest to improve connection with residents?

I would like to see City Council meetings live-streamed and posted on YouTube so that residents who are interested have an opportunity to participate. The city has made a push to move away from paper and utilize more electronic communication, such as social media and email, and I’ve heard positive feedback from this. I would encourage elected officials to engage with residents via social media as that has been an effective and easy way to understand multiple points of view.

Have you read the General Plan? What changes do you think need to be made in it?

Yes, and it needs to be updated. The title page still refers to Cedar Hills as a town instead of a city, and the last revision was done in 2002. Since then, some of the projects suggested have been completed and others have been removed from the Capital Projects Plan. While much of it is still relevant as it relates to the desired look and feel for the community, it is time for a significant update.

What would you like to see done with the park on Harvey?

We recently hired a group to help us develop a parks master plan for the entire city, and it includes the park on Harvey Blvd. While they are in the early concept design phase, I am pleased to see that the design is being based on feedback provided by residents through the recent park survey. As the design process continues, I will encourage outreach and communication with residents so that the final plans reflect the desires of the community.

Tell us how you would gauge the sentiments of residents on issues you will vote on?

I rely heavily on data provided through surveys, through discussions posted on social media, on public comments made in Council meetings, and on information provided to me directly through email and phone calls. I will continue to reach out to residents through all these formats in order to best understand differing perspectives and make decisions based on the needs and desires of residents.

The various budgets set priorities for the city. Have you looked at the budgets? If so, what shifts in priorities might you suggest?

Yes, I review the budget multiple times every year as the Council is responsible for approving the budget. I would like to see our community center used more by residents and by the city for community events, and would approve a decrease in the expected revenue from other events, such as wedding receptions, in order to accommodate more community uses of that facility.

Are youth sports a proper role of government or should that be left to others to provide?

It is not the proper role for federal or state government, but city government exists to provide services. One of the benefits of living in a city is that we, the residents of the city, have a voice in deciding what we want our community to look like. Residents of Cedar Hills have expressed support for youth recreation, open space, and community events such as our annual Family Festival. These programs and services create a family-friendly atmosphere and provide opportunities for our youth to participate in recreational activities. Our recreation staff continually analyze which programs are the most utilized and charge participation fees that cover the cost of youth sports programs so they are not subsidized with tax dollars.

Should the city provide funds for the bookmobile or retain them to subsidize residents to use nearby libraries?

The County used to provide bookmobile services to our community without an additional cost but recently decided to start charging cities who wanted bookmobile services. In order to keep the service that was being offered to us, which was a 2-hour stop every other Monday from 1-3pm, our annual cost would have been $5616. We currently budget $17,000/year to offer library reimbursements of $40 per household, which means 425 households in Cedar Hills can receive a reimbursement each year. In order to fund the bookmobile, we’d either have to reduce the number of households eligible for reimbursement to 284 or reduce the reimbursement to less than $40. I asked for feedback on this and overwhelmingly the feedback was to keep the current library reimbursement structure as is. Some of the reasons for this are 1) using a library is more convenient as you can go anytime during business hours instead of only having access two Mondays from 1-3pm; 2) the local elementary schools offer free year-round library services for children; 3) the bookmobile was out of commission multiple times, which meant we didn’t always have service; 4) the other city libraries have agreements which allow for cardholders to check out books from multiple libraries; and 5) bookmobile cards can be used by any resident, so Cedar Hills cardholders can still get books from the bookmobile when it stops in Alpine. Based on feedback and the information above, I believe it makes sense to continue to offer the $40 library reimbursement and not continue with the bookmobile.

We don’t do much in the way of joint ventures with nearby Highland and Alpine. Why do you think that is? Should we look more in that direction for things like recreation centers or not? If so, how would you approach that?

The only joint venture we have with Highland and Alpine is Lone Peak Public Safety District, and while it has benefits, it has also been challenging. Each city wants to protect its residents from tax increases and this has led to some difficult decisions when it comes to properly funding the district. Too often there have been arguments over which city is paying too much, or which city isn’t contributing enough. There have been arguments over the formula used to determine how much each city will pay and which stations will be staffed with how many people. When you have three cities with unique challenges and different priorities, these joint ventures can be difficult. I am not optimistic that the three cities could agree on a long-term plan for a recreation center. Before any discussions were had with regards to a venture such as this, I believe the three cities need to first work out the issues that exist within Lone Peak Public Safety.

Did you volunteer for any part of Family Festival? Explain.

Yes, I volunteer for every Family Festival event.

Heritage Park is filled with giant, weak-wooded trees that are starting to die, which has required the removal of several trees along the creek bed. A comprehensive tree pruning job was estimated at more than $100,000. Would you try to extend the life of these struggling trees with pruning and irrigation improvements, or do the status quo and take down the trees as they die or fund new stronger trees as a replacement for the affected areas?

I would first seek an opinion from our parks maintenance team as they know better than I on how to best resolve this issue. It may be a combination of pruning and irrigation improvements along with planting stronger replacement trees. One of the best features of Heritage Park is the beautiful trees and I would support efforts to preserve that feature.

Who should approve free community events organized by outside groups or individuals at the city’s event center? What qualifications should be met by the event center when they are not paying?

The current policy is that staff approves free community events. This is the best course of action as decisions are then not based on political pressure. When a group or individual requests use of the facility at no charge, staff will generally approve it if the event is open to the entire community at no cost to residents, and if the event is not political in nature. All political events are excluded from the no-charge policy as the legal opinion provided by the city attorney specifically said that state law prohibits the use of city funds for any political purposes. This includes meet-the-candidate events or other similar political gatherings. Decisions of this nature should be made by staff, with guidance from the city attorney if there are questions.

Jenney Rees for Cedar Hills Mayor

The General Election will be Tuesday, November 7, 2017. I have been honored to serve on the City Council since 2012 and hope to earn your vote to serve as Mayor. The following are areas on which I would like to focus.


With social media and technological advances, it is easier than ever to communicate with each other. Since I was elected in 2011 I have made it my goal to engage with residents through a variety of formats. I post my notes to my blog after each Council meeting, I engage with residents on Facebook forums, and I am always willing to sit down and meet with anyone who would like to discuss the issues facing our city. Additionally, I have consistently provided messages through the city newsletter, I helped create the city’s social media sites, and I created and have written many of the annual State of the City reports. My commitment as Mayor is to continue these communication efforts, explore new ones, and to be accessible to residents, day or night, to address concerns.

Fiscal Responsibility

Since 2012 I have worked together with staff and officials to reduce our debt burden while continuing to provide the services our residents want and need. These efforts include refinancing the golf course bond with a lower interest rate of 2.47%, which equates to a total savings of almost $500,000 over the life of the loan; refinancing Utility Revenue Bonds, which resulted in a total savings of approximately $638,000; and paying off the Public Safety Building almost seven years early. All money that the city receives and expends belongs to the residents of Cedar Hills and, as such, should be allocated judiciously. As Mayor, I will continue to work with staff and the City Council to make wise financial decisions that benefit our city and our residents.


Through the years, we have done a series of surveys to determine what residents love most about Cedar Hills. Overwhelmingly, it comes down to those things that give Cedar Hills that small, hometown feel. Open space, access to American Fork Canyon, youth recreation, and community events top the list of things to love about our city. While serving on the City Council, I have continually advocated to preserve our open spaces and to provide opportunities for residents to utilize our recreation and community resources. As Mayor I will work with the Council to promote community by continuing with our services and traditions while exploring new opportunities to bring our city together.


Across the state, cities are struggling to maintain infrastructure while providing services. Through careful planning and budgeting, our team has worked together to avoid many of the issues other cities are facing. Working together with staff, I am committed to following a long-term maintenance and replacement plan for our streets and utilities with the goal to follow a pay-as-you-go model instead of bonding for expensive projects.

With regards to our commercial area, I will advocate for businesses that adhere to our General Plan and the stated intent of our commercial zone. While our commercial area is small, it was created with the intent to provide an area where the primary use is for commercial businesses that serve the needs of the community and surrounding areas.

We are currently in the process of creating a Parks and Trails Master Plan to ensure that residents have access to outdoor recreation and play areas throughout the community. I will continue to place a high priority on our open spaces as they enhance the quality of life in our community and beautify our neighborhoods.


A desire to serve is essential when running for office. My service to our community includes serving on the City Council since 2012, serving as the volunteer coordinator for the Family Festival, volunteering at numerous Family Festival events, helping with city service projects, and serving as a volunteer for the Victim’s Advocate department with American Fork Police. Input from residents is valuable and I will encourage utilizing resident-driven committees to explore issues and opportunities facing our city. I enjoy serving with others throughout the community as we work together to make Cedar Hills a great place to live and, as Mayor, I will continue with these efforts and others that come with a new role.

PI Metering

There have been multiple discussions on the pros and cons of metering our pressurized irrigation water. The primary arguments for metering center on reducing wasteful consumption and reducing the wear and tear on our system. I am not yet convinced that secondary metering is the right solution for these problems and would instead like to educate and encourage residents to invest in smart controllers for their sprinkler systems. Smart controllers work by developing watering cycles based on an individual yard and weather patterns, and have proven to reduce consumption without the need for meters and changes in billing. There are a few reasons I’m advocating this approach.

First, secondary water meters don’t always result in conservation, especially if you have a group of people who can afford it. From a Standard-Examiner article from 2015:

O’Loughlin with Brilliant Integrated Technologies has noticed himself how different homeowners have different motivations to conserve. His work promoting the new irrigation controller often takes him back to California. The state is facing a tougher drought crisis than Utah, and pay water rates around 74 percent higher, but overwatering hasn’t gone away there, either. Just last summer, water use in the parched state increased by 1 percent instead of going down by their targeted 20 percent. California policymakers passed a $500-a-day fine for overwatering to try to curb use. “No matter where you go, water is not that expensive compared to what you’re putting it on; it’s noise for some people compared to the investment in landscaping and what the house is worth,” he said.

I’ve heard that Spanish Fork has implemented secondary meters and has seen a reduction in usage. However, our demographics are different from those of Spanish Fork. In Spanish Fork, the average annual income is $68,767 and the average home value is $214,014. In Cedar Hills the average annual income is $97,693 and the average home value is $343,377. (city-data.com). In an area like ours, many users can afford the higher rates so metering won’t necessarily equate to conservation.

Second, studies have shown that educating users on consumption has helped reduce usage. The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District installed water meters in Ogden, however, they did not change how they bill. They provided watering stats to residents who had meters and found that, without changes in billing, consumption went down. From that Standard-Examiner article:

Joanna Endter-Wada, a professor in the Department of Environment and Society at Utah State University, helped the water district use the data to gain a wider social perspective of conservation, too. 

“Our interest was in trying to assess the effectiveness of the information itself,” she said. “Could people be compelled or encouraged to conserve, just knowing whether or not water they were using was sufficient to meet their needs?” 

The answer, it seems, is a resounding “yes.”

The district has only kept track for the past three years, and they’re still finalizing the 2014 data. But preliminary estimates from the meters show the average household in Weber County used 83 percent of their one acre-foot water allocation in 2012. By 2014, that figure dropped to 60 percent.

The data also shows that the amount of people exceeding their water use allocation — another way of saying “overwatering” — dropped from 26 percent in 2012 to 9 percent in 2013.

“How much water costs is one motivation, but people, in general, have values related to not being wasteful, using their fair share and being reasonable in the amount of water they’re using in comparison to others,” Endter-Wada said. “So if people become aware of the fact that their use is considered inefficient, or they’re using a lot more water than they really need, many of them are motivated to conserve by doing right as members of society.”

Also, from a 2016 Standard-Examiner article:

Tage Flint, general manager and CEO at Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, stresses that education has always been the key to conserving water. “What we’re finding is that the more educated the water user is, the more efficient they are in their water usage,” he said.
Flint says new technologies are helping to boost water conservation. For example, when a homeowner installs a smart controller, it generally makes an immediate difference.
“What we’re seeing is that, almost overnight, we’re getting a 30- to 200-percent reduction in water use,” Flint said.
Kelly Kopp, a professor of plants, soils and climate at Utah State University, in Logan, has been focusing much of her research on these new controllers.
“I do think that the future of irrigation is going to focus on technology,” Kopp says. “And smart irrigation controllers are a big part of that, with huge potential water savings.”
Britney Hunter, an extension assistant professor in horticulture at the Davis County USU Extension Service, says she’s “pleasantly surprised” at how affordable these smart timers are, and just what the technology is capable of. Indeed, Hunter said if everyone in Davis County replaced their irrigation timer with a smart controller, the average home would save 8,800 gallons of water annually. Nationwide, that could translate into a savings of 120 billion gallons.

In researching this, I’m finding places like California are now installing smart controllers on top of water meters because the meters weren’t enough. However, technology continues to advance and smart meters are being developed that do both. I’m concerned that if we do meters now but the state eventually feels smart controllers are more effective, we will need to upgrade once again.

Third, the more I study the conservation issue, the more strongly I feel this needs to be led by the state and not individual cities. Our wells draw from aquifers, and other cities draw from the same aquifers. If we are conserving but other cities are not, then our efforts will not have any meaningful impact. Lehi is a great example. They continue to drill down deeper to supply more water to their rapidly growing community. If we scale back but they continue to draw down the aquifer, we will still suffer. This isn’t to say that we should ignore conservation efforts. This is an important issue and we should all do our part. But if conservation of a resource is key, then it’s only going to work if everyone is participating.

Fourth, the wear and tear on our system is a concern, but I’m not certain metering will fix it. If we don’t see a reduction in use, then meters would not have solved that problem. We have had Bowen & Collins do a study on our water, sewer, storm drain, and PI system and they recommended rates based on ongoing operations and improvements. They have continued to state we do not need to raise PI rates. If our system isn’t going to last as long as anticipated, we could instead raise PI rates to plan for improvements more often than the current plan. I am interested in Bowen & Collins explaining why their recommendations haven’t changed based on usage, and if they did recommend a rate change to address wear and tear, how much that would be. It could be considerably less expensive than meters.

Fifth, on the subject of paying for what you use. This is a market principle that makes sense to me. However, we used to do exactly that when we used culinary water on our lawns. At some point the city recommended a PI system where residents would only be charged a flat rate. It turns out whoever did that study didn’t take into account that supplying an unlimited amount of something for a flat fee would increase usage. To now go back to residents and say that isn’t working doesn’t seem fair, and I’m sure that is why so many residents are opposed to water meters. I would like to explore other options to reduce consumption and use metering as a last resort.

In summary, I recommend that we increase education efforts, which may even require us to get some outside help for a season. I would like the city to emphasize the benefits of smart controllers and encourage residents to obtain one. Controllers range from $100-$300 and several water conservancy districts are offering rebates of half the cost up to $150 to install and approved device. In addition, the city could explore offering a rebate for those who show proof of installation of an approved device. We should also eliminate watering restriction days for those who use smart controllers as they system will be setup to only water when needed. I feel that residents would conserve if they had tools that made it easy to do so, and were aware of how much water was being used. It’s not unlike recycling. Many residents pay each month for a recycling bin without any financial incentive to do so, but because they feel strongly about conservation. With more education and improvements in technology, I think this is the direction that makes the most sense. I think we need to do more research on the options and talk with someone at the State level to see what research and plans are happening there. I would hate for us to go down a road that doesn’t resolve the issues, or that has to change in the near future as technology and awareness changes. We made the mistake of thinking that a flat fee PI billing structure would be fine, and are now realizing that assumption was incorrect.

Running for Mayor

I am excited to announce that I will be running for mayor this year. I have loved serving the residents of Cedar Hills in my capacity as a council member and hope to earn your vote to serve as mayor. I will post more information here over the next couple of months as campaign season starts, but feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions or feedback.

Jenney Rees

Watering Season Is Almost Here

Spring is right around the corner, which means our pressurized irrigation system will soon be energized. We’ve had a great winter with regards to water, but conservation of water should still be on our minds. There are a few things you can do that can help with conservation:

  1. Contact USU for a free water check. A Water Check analyzes the efficiency of your automated sprinkler irrigation system. Trained evaluators will perform the Water Check at your home, business, or institution and will provide you with a customized irrigation schedule.  Soil type, grass root depth, sprinkler distribution uniformity and water pressure will be evaluated. The entire process will take approximately one hour. Contact information can be found online at http://slowtheflow.org/index.php/forms/free-water-check
  2. Install a smart controller. These controllers use weather and landscape conditions, along with information regarding your yard, to customize a watering schedule based upon the needs of your lawn. Many of these controllers allow you to control your system from your smartphone, which allows you to have complete control of your watering schedule wherever you are. Currently the Central Utah Water Conservancy District is offering rebates up to $150 for the purchase of a smart controller. Applying for the rebate can be done online at http://rebates.cuwcd.com/. Skydrop, which is located in Utah, presented their controller to our Council last year and sell them for approximately $200. You can find more information about their product at https://www.skydrop.com/.

Cities all around Utah are considering metering PI water as a way to reduce water consumption. My hope is that we can improve our water consumption without requiring meters. Having the free water check and installing smart controllers can help each of us reduce our water intake while still maintaining the lawns and gardens we love.

Domestic Violence Meeting


In the past few months there were two cases of domestic violence related homicides that occurred in American Fork. These tragedies were horrific and leave many wondering what can be done to better protect victims of domestic violence. We view our area as safe and family-friendly, but the statistics show that domestic violence is more prevalent in Utah than we may realize. The Utah Department of Health has published the following data on their website:

  • From 2000-2011, there were 226 domestic violence-related homicides in Utah, averaging 19 deaths per year,
  • In 2012, more than 3,114 men, women, and children entered shelters to escape domestic violence.
  • In 2008, 14.2% of Utah women (ages 18 and older) reported that an intimate partner had ever hit, slapped, pushed, kicked, or hurt them in any way.
  • In Utah, women experienced 169,156 intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes each year.
  • Nationally, each year, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes.
  • The percentage of women in Utah who reported ever experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) increased with age, with the exception of women who were 65 years or older.
  • 39% of Utah women reporting IPV said the perpetrator was their husband or male live-in partner. 27% said the perpetrator was a former husband or former male live-in partner and 25.7% said the abuser was a former boyfriend.
  • In Utah, divorce or separated women report the highest percentage of IPV (42.1%).
  • Nationally, the estimated costs of IPV exceed $5.8 billion each year. This includes costs of medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity.
  • There is approximately one intimate partner-related homicide every 33 days in Utah.
  • 44% of intimate partner-related homicide victims were killed by a spouse.
  • 147 Utah children were directly exposed to an intimate partner-related homicide from 2003-2008 and 78% of these children were under six years of age.
  • There is approximately one domestic violence-related homicide each month in Utah.
  • One-third of domestic violence perpetrators committed suicide after committing the homicide.
  • There are approximately 3 domestic violence-related suicides every month in Utah.
  • Almost 12% of adult suicides are domestic violent related.

According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribute, Jenn Oxborrow of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition said domestic violence-related homicides in Utah have accounted for 42 percent of homicides statewide over the last 16 years.

There does appear to be some movement on finding ways to better help those who are victims of domestic violence. Two bills are being presented this legislative session that deal with domestic violence. The Utah County Commissioners recently held a townhall asking for input from the public on domestic violence resources in Utah County. These are a step in the right direction, but there is a lot more that needs to be done.

American Fork Police Department is committed to raising awareness to domestic violence issues in our communities. On March 8th at 7pm in the Vista Room, victim advocate Dawna Whiting and Sergeant Josh Christensen will discuss domestic violence and what resources are available to residents of Cedar Hills. I encourage residents to attend this important meeting to become more aware of this issue and to offer suggestions and thoughts on what communities, counties, and states can do to end the cycle of violence.

Upcoming Meetings

There are two upcoming meetings that residents are invited to attend that could have a significant impact on the budget and future of the city. I will provide a summary on this blog after each meeting and welcome any feedback you have.

The first is a meeting being held by the Lone Peak Public Safety District on Tuesday, January 31st at 6pm at the Highland Fire Station. LPPSD recently had a metric study performed on services provided and will be presenting the results of that study. One thing that has been a concern for representatives of Cedar Hills, Highland, and Alpine is the continued rise of public safety costs and how to budget for them. The results of this study and decisions made by the board could have a big impact on our public safety budget.

The second is a Board of Adjustment hearing on February 8th at 6pm in the Cedar Hills Vista Room. This is an appeal being requested by Rosegate, the developer who wants to build a residential facility in the commercial zone located south of WalMart. The Council previously approved the application with several conditions to make it comply with zoning regulations and with the ruling that congregate care could be considered substantially the same as assisted living. The developers are appealing the decision of the Council and both sides will argue before the Board of Adjustment. This is the first level of the appeal as it will also be heard by the State Property Rights Ombudsman and could also end up in court. The public is welcome to attend the hearing.

Canyon Road

A discussion regarding the future of Canyon Road has been ongoing for several years. Here is a brief recap:

  • The County wanted to make improvements to North County Blvd, which was owned by Pleasant Grove, American Fork, and Highland, and wanted federal dollars to make the improvements. In order to get federal dollars, the ownership of the road had to be transferred to the State. Through an agreement made between UDOT and Utah County, a trade was made after North County Blvd was completed. UDOT, which owned Canyon Road, agreed to take ownership of North County Blvd and the County agreed to take ownership of Canyon Road. Canyon Road maintained its classification as a “Minor Arterial and Major Collector” road.
  • UDOT gave to the County the funds they had set aside to do an overlay on Canyon Road, which was $3.3 million.
  • Cedar Hills and Pleasant Grove approached Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) and requested additional funding to make significant improvements to Canyon Road, including fixing drainage issues and installing curb and gutter. This was approved for $4.5 million. The County agreed to allocate an additional $1.5 million to the project. I’m not clear as to where those funds came from as I’ve heard they are federal funds the County received as part of the transfer agreement of North County Blvd. With all the funding available, there was a total of $9.3 million to improve Canyon Road.
  • The County approached both cities and stated they are willing to use all of those funds to make improvements but only if the cities agree to take ownership of the road in 30 years and immediately take responsibility for pothole repair and maintenance, snow removal, law enforcement, storm drainage, signage, debris removal, and some road striping. Our city manager estimated the cost for us would be $15,000-$20,000 per year from year one. The ongoing maintenance after the transfer of ownership would be much higher as we will then be responsible for all major road repairs, resulting in millions of dollars to be expended.
  • The County originally indicated that if we refused to take ownership, they would reject the MAG funds ($4.5 million) and just do an overlay.
  • In a recent Council meeting we discussed our concerns with the agreement, including but not limited to our $15-$20k annual responsibility from day one, the ability for the County to give 6 months’ notice to terminate the agreement before the 30 year transfer of ownership (though they do have to give us money to maintain the road at their levels for the entire 30 year contract), that the agreement didn’t fix all the drainage issues nor install curb and gutter on the entire road through our portion, concerns with our ability to handle snow plowing immediately, and the eventual ownership and costs. While the improvements being proposed are significant, they do not raise the quality of Canyon Road to city standards.

At our request, we had a joint meeting with the Pleasant Grove City Council on November 22, 2016. This was an opportunity to hear where Pleasant Grove was with the agreement and to express our concerns. Also in attendance were Utah County Commissioners Bill Lee and Larry Ellertson, Commissioner-elect Nathan Ivie, Utah County Public Works Director Richard Nielson, Andrew Jackson with MAG, and many city staff members from both cities. At that meeting members of the Cedar Hills Council expressed concerns with the safety of Canyon Road and the agreement.

The major points that I brought up were 1) Cedar Hills isn’t in a position to expend $15-$20k per year to maintain a County Road, 2) our city is almost completely built out so our ability to own a road of that size and scope, even in 30 years, is limited as the cost will be in the millions of dollars, 3) while the County feels that County standards are less than those of a city with regards to roads, the improvements being suggested do not raise the quality of the road to city standards, 4) the improvements being recommended do not address all of the safety issues, 5) if the project exceeds the $9.3 million budget, the cities have the pay the balance, and 6) the County made this agreement with UDOT knowing it was not a rural road and had significant safety issues that should have been addressed some time ago.

My initial hope was that PG and Cedar Hills could work together and reject the agreement, ask the County to use the $9.3 available to them to fix the road and address the safety issues of the road they own, then later meet together with the County to discuss the future of the road. It was apparent at the end of the meeting that the majority of the PG City Council is willing to sign an agreement with the County to repair their portion and take on ownership in the future. It’s possible they have the ability to do so as they no longer have to maintain their previously owned portion of North County Blvd, but I do not know the details of their budget. I suggested to the County that we look at a separate agreement for Cedar Hills thatmakes sense for us. Our city is smaller than PG (CH population = 10,265, PG population = 38,052), our budgeted revenues are less (for fiscal year 2017 CH = $4,084,654, PG = $13,928,006), PG turned over ownership for their portion of North County Blvd where we are keeping all of the streets we’ve been responsible for, and PG has more staff and more resources to handle a road the size of Canyon Road. While the agreement as written may make sense for PG, it doesn’t make sense for a city of our size. At the same time, the road needs to be fixed and the County, as the owner of the road, should address issues for the safety of everyone who drives on Canyon Road.

After the meeting was over I spoke with one of the County Commissioners and am cautiously optimistic that something canbe done that addresses the issues without hurting our city. I will continue to post updates as more conversations take place.


SR_146 Reconstruction and Widening Concept Report_Final (2)


heritage-parkIf you are like me, you are tired of hearing about national politics and being told who to vote for or why your vote is a wasted vote. So instead, I’m going to talk about a local issue that will be on the Cedar Hills ballot.

This year we will decide whether or not renew our Cultural Arts and Recreation (CARE) tax. I am in favor and voting yes. This is a tax we are currently paying as it was previously approved by residents, so it won’t increase taxes from current rates. It is 0.1% on sales tax, which means for every $10 spent in a retail establishment within Cedar Hills, the city would assess a tax of one penny. By collecting this small sales tax, residents and non-residents who shop in Cedar Hills assist in generating funds for arts and recreational programs in Cedar Hills.

Since I have served on the Council we have used CARE tax funds for the following:

  • Basketball court at Heritage Park
  • Completion of the Community Center basement
  • Adding a restroom at Mesquite Park
  • Events hosted by the Arts Committee, which includes the annual date night and the children’s art contest as part of the Family Festival

For this fiscal year we plan on using CARE tax funds for Bayhill Park and Heritage Park improvements. The approximate amount we generate each year from this tax is $40,000. Our residents have expressed an appreciation for our parks and trails system and for our recreation programs. CARE tax funds go directly towards projects like these. We still have parks and trails projects on our capital improvements plan and we are continually adding new recreational opportunities for our children. The funds from CARE tax helps us complete these projects and add these opportunities.

Feel free to reach out if you have questions on this. I hope you will support our arts and recreational programs by voting yes.