Angry turnout for the Heber Power & Light Board meeting.
|Heber Power & Light Board members were made fully aware of the sentiments of the residents of Heber Valley concerning the substantial (350% +) $1,687 pay increase disguised as a health benefit the board gave themselves….retroactively back to July 2011.
It was standing room only when by my estimation, approximately 150 citizens showed up to voice their opinion. To give the board credit, they did allow an ‘open mike’ process, rather than limiting comments to those who had requested time on the agenda. However, they refused to answer any questions, Heber City Mayor Phillips was a no show.
Also let me preface the following comments with the caveat that the sentiments were reserved for the members of the board, and NOT for employees of Heber Power & Light. Many commented on the great service that we receive in this valley, and in no way is the anger directed towards the decision of the board meant to be a reflection upon HP&L employees.
Many good points were made, and various members of the community were eloquent in expressing their disappointment, disbelief, disillusionment, and anger, to name a few of the emotions expressed. Speaking purely from memory (and without notes), I recall the following;
- One resident mentioned serving on the ambulance board for over 7 years and never once receiving any reimbursement whatsoever.
- Character was called into question many times with statements to the effect that while it may be ‘legal’ for the board to give themselves a substantial raise in their compensation, it certainly wasn't ethical or moral.
- Also asked (but not answered) is why members should receive insurance benefits (the board awarded themselves cash in lieu of actual health insurance) when working for only a few hours a month? Most companies require 20+ hours a week to qualify for any type of health benefits or insurance.
- It was also brought to the attention that this is not the sole income or revenue source for the members of the board. If each of them serves on several county/city boards, they are receiving substantial reimbursement for their ‘public service’.
- Numerous comments were made about the betrayal to the people of this community when expecting board members to make fiscally responsible choices and decisions on behalf of the customers (us, members of the community) as well as the employees of Heber Light & Power.
- Who gets a 360% pay increase in THIS current economy? One person who was self-employed and gives herself her own raises, made the comment that she is only able to give a 2% raise right now.
- Many comments were made about wanting to trust our community leaders, and what a severe break of trust this matter is, calling into question (now) what other choices/decisions might be made that are not moral or ethical or in the best interests of the public.
Overall, it was clear that the community is up in arms over this matter, but it remains unresolved. While the board listened out all who wished to speak and near the end Midway Mayor Connie Tatton asked “does anyone else want to come up and take a swing” to make sure everyone had a chance to speak. When asked if the matter would be addressed and resolved, we were told that since Mayor Phillips was not present, no decisions could be made. Additionally, no promises were made that the matter would be brought up or put on next months’ agenda.
However, it is my best guess that the members of this community will follow through and demand answers as well as accountability.
Please feel free to add your comments or thoughts below. We would especially love to hear from any board members willing to express their thought process on this matter, or explanation for their stance. It was sorely missed at this meeting.
BY .INFO STAFF