EAGLE MOUNTAIN — Residents in Eagle Mountain held a meeting Sunday night to protest what they claim are too-high utility rates issued by the city.
Sunday afternoon, a group of about 50 residents brought their utility bills and gathered at the Eagle Mountain Library to raise awareness of the allegedly too-high utility rates. Some called for a reorganization of government, some just expressed frustrations.
Sam Allen lead the group as the voice of what he calls the "Eagle Mountain City Utility Scandal." A little more than a year ago Allen started looking into his rising bill.
"I started adding up my bills over a 12-month period and totaling up my additional costs over the market's rates," Allen said. "I noticed I was paying an extra $640 a year."
Allen claims the city is violating Utah's transparency laws by not putting their rates on their bills and that he is paying 15 percent more than the market average on his utilities. He wrote a 61-page summary outlining his frustrations with the city.
I started adding up my bills over a 12-month period and totaling up my additional costs over the market's rates. I noticed I was paying an extra $640 a year.
Allen said he found out where his money was going, too, through sources in the city and city government, as well as city audits.
He claims the funds pay for extravagant government salaries, a trip to Washington D.C. for the mayor, city council holiday dinners and special events like the Pony Express days.
"We should not be paying money for special events. We should not be paying for rodeos," Allen said. "We should not be paying for vacations. We should not be paying for high salaries. Do not raise property taxes until you cut the waste out of the government first."
Allen said he has taken his claims to the city council and mayor, who has "tried her best to disprove any claims I've made." He said there is no dialogue in city council meetings between government and citizens.
The city however, says there is an explanation to Allen's claims.
According to Eagle Mountain City Administrator Ifo Pili, the city keeps their utility bills brief, which may exclude the rate, for cost.
Pili said the reason for the high utility costs is not because of mismanagement, but because the city has $50 million in bonds to pay off from when they first formed their government.
"It's almost as if the city took out an interest only loan back in 2000 and capitalized the interest, pushing it all back onto the residents who are here today," Pili said.
Pili also said using utility costs to help subsidize the general fund is in their budget and done to prevent spiking property taxes.
He added that as a resident he has been frustrated with the high utility rates, but they look every year into lowering bond payments.
In an email to KSL, the state auditor said he would look into the issue Monday or Tuesday.