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Finances and growing pains burden Springville

Most residents would say Springville is a great place to rear a family, but they are as likely to say they are concerned about the city, its future and its growing pains.

The city has been under fire from various sectors of the community. In the past year, civil suits have been brought against the city. And the Utah County Attorney's office is investigating alleged criminal activities, including a forgery on a recorded document.Mayor Delora Bertelsen is not seeking re-election. Harold "Hal" Wing, David Fuller and Calvin Bird will be on the ballot Nov. 4.

The city has gone through tremendous residential growth in the past five years, but has seen very little economic development. The disparity between the two has caused a financial burden on the city. Earlier this year, Bertelsen commissioned an Economic Development Commission to pinpoint problems and attract businesses to the community.

The I-15 corridor along Springville, considered prime commercial property, is still virtually undeveloped. A few new businesses including the Cracker Barrel and Arby's have located around the 400 South interchange.

The newly overhauled general plan specifically indicates the I-15 corridor is to be used for economic development. Although a major 100-acre business venture was announced for the west side of I-15 between the city's two interchanges last spring, it has yet to leave the development stage.

While steps to bring a stronger tax base to the community are being made, some critics say it is too late. They fear Springville didn't take advantage of the economic "window of opportunity" other cities did during the past few years of the state's economic boom.

The financial strength of the city - and how it's managed - are crucial issues in this election. All three mayoral candidates agree it is time for either a full-time mayor or city administrator to keep things in check.

Residents have raised concerns over the city's number of bonds and question where payment for those bonds comes from. Last year the city defaulted on a bond payment until utility bills and property taxes could be collected.

City officials have been criticized for the way they have handled daily functions. City auditor Niel Strong has repeatedly suggested a revamping of job descriptions, saying some officials are wearing too many hats. He has also encouraged the city to do a better job of managing and recording the monthly utility revenues.

One area of the city enjoying financial help is the arts community. The Museum of Art has broken ground on a new wing. With help from the public and private sector, the museum continues to bring a variety of exhibits to the community. The Springville World Folkfest also continues to grow each year.

Residents, who see the arts community as receiving all the financial attention, are asking the city for more recreational facilities to help youths and families stay in the city. The recreation department and the new parks board are pushing officials to look at the recreational needs of the community.

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Additional Information

Springville mayor

Why are you running for mayor?

HAROLD R. WING: The personal success I've achieved in my business, and the outstanding job my sons and employees have done carrying it forward, gave me freedom to reflect on the debt of gratitude I owe the city. My sales and business experience, and the ability to offer my full time, are the assets I can bring to the position of mayor.

DAVID FULLER: While Springville is a wonderful community in which to live and raise a family, there are some critical areas that need attention. These issues will have an impact on citizens for years to come if not corrected. If we correct these problems, I think it will help today's residents and future generations.

CALVIN BIRD: My experience on the City Council has helped me to know and understand the issues facing city government. My ability to work with the citizens of our community, council members and city employees can help solve the challenges our community will face.

What do you think about the direction outgoing Mayor Delora Bertelsen took the city?

H.R.W.: The future will reflect Mayor Bertelsen was an outstanding mayor who cared about the city and its art history. However, I believe the city may have avoided making some difficult financial decisions that need to be made to take us into the next century.

D.F.: Mayor Bertelsen has some ideas with which I differed, and I think we can improve. I'm sure the information gleaned from her administration can improve the direction for the future.

C.B.: Mayor Bertelsen has led the city forward and contributed an unprecedented amount of time and effort to the city. While I have served with her, the city has completed the 800-900 South road, received commitments to fund Canyon Road, formed a Parks Board and added three parks, our infrastructures have been improved and children's library addition completed.

How would your administration differ from the current administration?

H.R.W.: I would implement proven business principles and practices that will balance responsibility with authority and ensure accountability and performance from every city employee and elected official - including myself - with attention to infrastructure maintenance and financial integrity.

D.F.: I would affirm that I represent everybody, not just a select few. Fairness to every resident would be the cornerstone of my administration. My open-door policy would include opening financial books and city documents for review. This would provide a way to maintain checks and balances and foster responsive government.

C.B.: The growth of our city requires changes in administration of city government and services. Some people fear change. However, we realize there can be no progress without it. Rather than talk in terms of change, we should talk in terms of progress. I hope we can work together and get excited about the progress we are about to make.

How do you propose to keep a check on city spending?

H.R.W.: I would apply the same principles that have made my company successful to the operation of the city. Fiscal responsibility and accountability.

D.F.: This is where my open door book policy would help. Having the community aware of the city's financial condition and encouraging solutions will give residents a stake in seeing we're frugal with taxpayer money. Careful budgeting and accounting practices are critical on a day-to-day basis - a reason for a full-time mayor.

C.B.: The city's financial position is stable! Zions Bank reviewed the city's current bond capacity, rating and financial stability. The rating on our revenue bonds is Aaa by Moody's Standard and Poor, and they are judged to be of the best quality. When property taxes and electrical, sewer and water rates are all considered, this city is one of the least expensive to live in.

Is it time for Springville to have a city manager or full-time mayor?

H.R.W.: It's time for a full-time mayor. With a budget of approximately $26 million, and 200 employees, a full-time administrator is required. No business of similar size could succeed without full-time management. The possibility of a full-time manager should be considered.

D.F.: Yes. The responsibilities of mayor as outlined in the Utah state law book alone could keep anyone busy, but there are also administrative, financial and public needs, affected by the growth of Springville. Those suggest a full-time mayor is needed.

C.B.: Springville is ready for either a city manager, an administrator, or public-works director because of the city's growth. Implementing the correct and most efficient type of management should result in an actual savings rather than an additional cost to the city.

Do you believe the community's recreational needs are being met?

H.R.W.: I hear citizens say there are not enough recreational facilities. I also hear excellent reports about the recreation department. To determine whether recreational shortcomings are financial or in the areas of planning needs to be analyzed and a long-term plan implemented. The new parks board is an excellent first step.

D.F.: Good community facilities are very helpful in bringing our citizens together. I'd strongly promote increased recreation that encourages community health and fun. I'd support more parks, recreation centers, and bike and walking trails.

C.B.: Quality health and recreational facilities that can be shared by all members of the community is something Springville deserves. We have some great programs already in place. However, some of our facilities are lacking or nonexistent. Enthusiasm, cooperation, grants and a coalition between government and the private sector will make this an affordable goal.

Bird's question for Wing: You've criticized the city using revenue bonds and using revenue-generating departments to support other departments. Since bonds or raising taxes are the only other sources, where would you have gotten the money?

H.R.W.: I've never criticized revenue bonds or use of revenue generating departments supporting other departments. We must increase sales-tax revenue to avoid raising property taxes. That's why I'm running. My experiences makes me better suited to accomplish this goal.

Bird's question for Fuller: Do you think the city should close Memorial Park so residents bordering the park aren't bothered with noise, lights and traffic?

D.F.: I would seek suggestions from the citizens affected and see for myself what is going on. Residents of the area may have their own ideas of what can be done without the extreme of eliminating a city park.

Wing's question for Bird: You've said your first concern for Springville is controlled growth. Explain going against the Planning Commission and citizens in approving the almost 300-unit Five Star Development.

C.B.: I voted for Five Star because it came prior to a moratorium on planned-unit developments. The council must be objective not subjective in the way ordinances are enforced. Otherwise the city is at risk for a lawsuit. On the positive, the PUD helped finance utilities brought to new businesses that said they wouldn't come without it.

Fuller's question for Wing: A $1 million bond payment was due Sept. 1. When asked if the bond was paid, a council member said money had to be shuffled but it got paid. How do you plan to resolve budgeting problems and inform residents on how bonds are paid?

H.R.W.: Many times one must "rob Peter to pay Paul." This is not a problem as long as you are both Peter and Paul. The problem's not transferring funds, but not knowing from where these funds are being transferred. My administration will be more specific and open about these transactions.

Wing's question for Fuller: Would you explain why you chose to run independently rather than seek the nomination of one of the two established parties?

D.F.: I talked with both parties, and they told me they didn't want to change the way the city runs. You say you want a new direction; your party doesn't. You can't have it both ways. I will lead the city in a new direction in which people have a say, not just party bosses. I chose to run independently so voters will have a real chance to correct problems.

Fuller's question for Bird: As a councilman you voted to re-adopt a flawed zoning plan that could affect property owners for years to come. How do you plan to resolve zoning problems affected by that flawed plan?

C.B.: That "flawed" zoning plan came from the hard work and efforts of Planning Commissions and City Councils long before I became a member. Their intent was good and served our community well. the problems you referred to were minor and technical in nature.