Critic's accusations are unfounded

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 10:37 AM

Brett Garlick

During the Kaysville City Council meeting this past week, Mr. Orwin Draney, who unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Kaysville City Council in 2011, addressed the council during the Call to the Public agenda item. In his statement he accused the council of 1) illegally meeting in closed door sessions; 2) inappropriately increasing power rates; and, 3) scheming to use proceeds of the sale of city property to build a new police station.

First, the state of Utah has provided cities the legal and responsible right to meet in a closed executive session when the city is in negotiations with a party who wishes to purchase city owned land. It would be irresponsible for the council to negotiate the sale of property in the open. It would give the prospective buyer an advantage and be a great disservice to the citizens of Kaysville. Any responsible citizen would be up in arms if negotiations were held in public putting the city and the taxpayers at such a disadvantage.

Second, at my suggestion, early last year the council adopted an ordinance that compels the city finance director to report the financial status of the power department to the council after the annual budget and annual audit are completed. If the financial status, which includes the reserve fund, operating expenses, and cost of power, is below a predetermined level, the finance director will provide a recommendation to mitigate the deficit through either a rate increase or reduction in expenses. Since the city has had only one small increase in many years and the cost of power has continued to increase, the council felt that it was appropriate and responsible to increase rates to make up the deficit that has been going on for over five years.

And still, with the increase, the cost of power to rate payers is less than Rocky Mountain Power or any other municipally owned power department in the surrounding area. The ordinance is there to keep the financial status of the power department regularly reviewed. If the status changes in future years, the council will have the opportunity to either decrease rates, provide a rebate, or invest in the city’s electrical infrastructure, just to name a few options. It will be decided in a regular city council meeting with the opportunity for citizens to provide input during the call to the public agenda item. One other intent of the ordinance is to ensure that the council is presented with facts. It will provide them the opportunity to make the decision based on real numbers instead of political pressures or anecdotal communications.

Third, at no time during any closed-door meetings or at any other time has any member of the city council discussed using proceeds from the sale of city property to build a new police station. The funds from the sale of real property, if received (the closing of the sale agreement isn’t even scheduled to occur until the third or fourth quarter of this year), will go directly back to the electric department. Period.

I am offended by Mr. Draney’s continual unfounded accusations. Just because he says something often enough doesn’t make it true. Mr. Draney is entitled to his own opinion on the actual actions taken by the city council. However, he is not entitled to label his own allegations as facts. Spouting untruths and making such ridiculous accusations lessens his credibility and only highlights how uninformed and unqualified he is to address such important issues.

Lastly, I am saddened that Mr. Draney would associate the police station with his criticisms and accusations. The primary responsibility of the city is to provide protection and safety to its citizens. I have had several opportunities to ride along with our police officers during their shifts. I was aghast to find that the officers and staff use the same room and table to eat their lunch/dinner, interview suspects, process drugs and other evidence and even take blood samples from suspects! How can any reasonable person think that is OK? The officers and staff have grown so large that they have had to add a portable trailer to house officers and equipment. Do we think so little of the men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day that we can’t provide them with sufficient resources to safely do their job?

The current police station was built in 1986. The population of Kaysville at that time was 9,800 and was built to support a population of 18,000. The current population is about 28,000 and Kaysville is projected to grow to a population of 40,000. The city continues to grow and yet Mr. Draney apparently believes it extravagant to provide the police department with the right tools to ensure that we are safe from the elements out there looking to harm us or our families. Providing a new police station is the right thing for the city of Kaysville and using it as a weapon to criticize the city council is appalling.

Brett Garlick is a member of the Kaysville City Council.

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