Showing posts with label HL & P. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HL & P. Show all posts

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Who is PAYING for the RAISE?

Wasatch County residents want to know!

It is now over two months since the decision was made for a fourfold pay increase by a few of our elected officials,and nary an explanation, justification or rationalization has been offered.  Adequate opportunities have been available when asked at Council meetings, or after a bevy a comments at the HL&P Board meeting, or in responses to Email queries on the subject.

Perhaps those recipients of this bountiful, self ordained, Christmas present compliments of those paying for electricity think that the public will grow weary and they will be able to keep their ill-gotten gains. 

To put this Pay Raise in perspective, the $10,000 that each of the board members received in December simply for RETROACTIVE benefits (that could not even have been used), is approximately equally to the total of all of the $12 service fees paid by all electricity users for several months.

Consider this,  the amount the Heber City Mayor and  HL&P Board Chair Phillips will be paid for ONE board meeting ($2,300) will be more than ALL of the payments that my business pays for electricity for twelve months.  Those payment also would NOT cover the amount he will receive for the meeting he did NOT attend in January to hear the public!

 What about that frugal widow lady paying $48 per month (including the $12 service fee), ALL of her electric bill payments, for nearly three years,  could just be forwarded directly to Midway Mayor Tatton to cover the cost of ONE month of her in-lieu-of health payments ($1689). 

Heber City council members currently share their board payments.   Three Council members, (Horner, Mergist and McDonald) are repaying their portion of the retroactive bonus of $4,000 for December, for a total of $12,000.   That's a bit more than Town President Whiting received.
Councilman Patterson has reportedly said the council "earned" it and he will not be returning his shared payment.  Former Councilman Straddeck  has given no indication of his decision;  an email query received no response.

Then, of course, we have to raise the exorbitant cost of this pay raise by another 7.65% to pay for the employer portion of FICA - unless this is be given as a no-taxable fringe benefit.

Whatever the cost it will have to come from one of two places - the taxpayers' right hand pocket or the HLP rate payers' left hand pocket.  

Will there be an explanation forthcoming?   Doubtful.   Will that pay raise decision be rescinded? Possibly.   Will the  money already paid be returned?  Only if public pressure is continually applied.    

The "rescind and return" Petition is still up at  or linked at More detailed information can be found at

The petition will formally be presented at the next HL & P meeting Wed, Feb 22, 4:15 PM (if they allow it on the agenda this time).

Open Letter to Pay Recipients

Enough is Enough - Wasatch County residents want to know

An Open letter to recipients of the HL & P pay raise
(1/27 Via Email to: David Phillips, Connie Tatton, John Whiting, Mike Kohler, Benny Mergist, Alan McDonald, Nile Horner, Robert Patterson, Eric Straddeck, Erik Rowland, Jeff Bradshaw)

First, let me offer my apologies for the delivery of my comments at the recent Heber Light and Power Board meeting; some have said I may have sounded "angry."  I felt it was not proper that an explanation was not offered and that no question were answered by those who made that decision.

Be that as it may, I'm sure you are all aware that the decision to award "in-lieu" of pay to the members of the the  has not received overwhelmingly approval by the community.

As a strong believer in openness and transparency, I am therefore offering any of you the opportunity to:
 1. Join the IMPACT program to express anything you have to say on this subject;
 2. Join the IMPACT program answer questions this subject;
 3. Respond via email with your comments; OR
 4. Call me to explain or discuss the issue. 
I have substantial information about the decision, but there are still many question to be answered.

Last, but certainly not least, I would strongly urge that each and everyone of you NOT to be recipients of ANY payments dispensed from HL&P until the situation is resolved, AND better yet, that any and all funds be returned in the name of fairness to those who pay the bills.

Bob Wren.

Response, I've had a few,
But then again, too few to mention. . . . 

It did bring this:
Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 4:00 PM
Hi All,
I was finally able to visit with Tony about the decision made at the last Heber Power board meeting.  I apologize for not being there but our Council meeting ended up conflicting with it.  I will try to do better in the future.
That said, I am concerned about the decision made by the board to offer health insurance (or equivalent cash)to themselves.   I can’t think of any reason to justify that amount of money coming to the board.  The $500.00 per month is at the top side of anything justifiable based on the amount of time and effort spent doing that job.  I could even support  reasonable extra compensation to those board members who spend time over and above normal board meetings to help manage the company, but not this. 
With all due respect to the board’s actions, I would request that this item be reconsidered and reversed at our next meeting.  In my opinion, it is this kind of excesses that turn the public against those in political office. 
We represent the people and should be doing all possible to deliver government services at the best price possible.   We, the board of Heber Light and Power, recently imposed a rate increase on our customers.  It was calculated to be the least cost amount needed to deliver an expected rate of return to the company to help maintain good long term financial health.   I was opposed to that increase based on timing and present economic conditions.  I am opposed to this increase in Board compensation, not only because it is excessive, but also because it will use up about 25% of that rate increase, possibly requiring another increase in rates to compensate for it.   It is excessive based on any reasonable compensation for time spent.  Please let us reconsider our actions.

Mike Kohler
Wasatch County Council

And this:

Sent: Friday, December 02, 2011 7:38 AM
Fellow Board Members

After some thought on this matter I support Mr. Kohler's opinion . I have ask Mark Anderson to return my portion of the insurance stipend to Heber Light and Power.

Thank you,
Benny Mergist

Further on 2/1/2012:

At the end of 2011, Heber City received a check for $20,249.28 from Heber Light and Power, to cover the insurance benefit appointed to myself and Alan McDonald, who were representing the Heber City Council as HL&P board members for 2011. (I wish to note that Alan was not present for the vote regarding this insurance benefit.) The current Heber City policy divides any and all board payments received from any paying boards in behalf of its council members, between all five council members. Thus when this payment was divided by 5, each Heber City council member’s portion was $4049.86. (I also wish to note the other Heber City council members did not participate in the vote regarding this issue or ask to receive this payment.) We each received a net amount less social security and taxes. I returned to HL&P the gross amount of my portion which was $4049.86.
I wish to clarify I did not return “a” portion, but the entire portion of which I received. To quote me as saying I returned as much of the money as I had available, that I wished it were more, or that this depletes everything my wife and I have in savings was also incorrect.
I sincerely apologize for my error in judgment on this matter and I am earnestly striving to make restitution.  I no longer serve on the HL&P board, but appeal to all current board members to rescind the decision regarding insurance benefits paid to board members.
Benny Mergist
Heber City Council Member

And This

To Heber City Council and former Members:

We are all aware of the HLP health benefits package and the extra compensation that has been given to the City Council.  I am informing the city council that I am returning the portion of the money that I have received due to this health benefits package back to HLP.  What you decide to do with your portions is up to you.

  I would like to make a statement to the council concerning boards and committees that the city council members have been appointed to.   When a city council member has been asked to fill an appointed position on a board or committee, they represent the whole governing body of the city, and should act in the best interest of the city.  Their actions or in-actions, must reflect the position of the governing body of the city and not their own personal interests.  We do no sever on these committed and boards due to any personal achievement of our own; rather we serve on these positions because the Mayor has asked us to represent the governing body of Heber City.

   With that in mind, I feel the governing body should make a decision concerning the HLP board health benefits package as a body, and voice that opinion through our representatives on the board.  I ask the City Council representatives on the HLP board to reconsider the actions take by some of the HLP board members in November and remove from the amendments of HLP Employee and Exempt Employee Manual the health benefit that the board members receive.  I would like the City Council to resole to a vote on how the city and the governing body should be represented on the board by the council's representatives.

   I vote to rescind this health care benefit that has been extend to the HLP Board members and to remove the amendments allowing it.  I respect each of you and your position concerning the best interests of the council and the city.  But we need to make it clear to the public and to HLP Board what the city council's position is on this issue.  So I would suggest to the council, that we have  Mark Anderson  put this on the February 2nd regular meeting agenda, so the council can take a vote on it.

   What each council members does with the money that they have received is up to each individual, but I recommend that the council and former council member return all monies received from this action. 


Alan McDonald

Sunday, January 29, 2012

HL & P Board Comments

While the recent HL & P Board meeting allowed comments from the public, many questions raised but NONE were answered.

Acting Chair Connie Tatton, sitting in for the 'vacationing' Chair (and Mayor) Dave Phillips, prefaced the comment period with a statement than no explanation would be made, no questions would be answered and no discussion would be held.   After the comment period the meeting was recessed and Mayor Tatton declared that no decision would be made because Mayor Phillips was absent.

  • Click here for the SLTrib report of the meeting: "Heber City • Dozens of angry Wasatch County residents blasted the part-time board of Heber Light & Power Co. on Wednesday evening for voting themselves a so-called health benefit of $1,687 a month."   (Comments can be made there, several interesting ones have already been posted)
  • And here for a local report by HeberValleyInfo:   "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."  
  • And here for an audio recording of the comments made at the public meeting.
Lest anyone might misunderstand what was done at the meeting and for those desiring even more actual information, here is a 4 minute excerpt of the "discussion" around the pay raise at the Nov 16 meeting and here for the entire meeting to get the full report.  The Employee Manual changes begin about 1:00 into the meeting, the discussion specific to the "in-lieu of Pay Raise" last about 15 seconds.

The petition for rescission (and RETURN of the money already received) is still alive and active passing 450 signatures earlier today with an additional several hundred paper signers.

Click Here for the  the two ethics laws  or acts that apply to elected and appointed officials

Friday, January 20, 2012

HL & P Board Pay Raise Update

The health insurance benefit (aka pay raise) for the Board of Directors (Elected Officials) was approved in the November 2011 meeting.  The meeting agenda  shows this item:
Administration – General Business
*2012 Preliminary Budget
*2012 Operating Resolution
*Employee & Exempt Employee Manual Amendments

The minutes of the meeting for this item report:
"Employee and Exempt Manual Amendments
The Human Resources Committee of the Board presented amendments to the Employee and Exempt Employee Manuals. Benny Mergist moved to accept the amendments to the Manuals with changes as discussed. Motion seconded by John Whiting. Motion passed all in favor."

Members in attendance:  Mayor Dave Phillips, Mayor Connie Tatton, Town President John Whiting, Councilman Benny Mergist

Excused:Councilman Alan McDonald, County Council Chairman Mike Kohler

Who is on the Human Resources Committee?
David Phillips, Connie Tatton and John Whiting
 Included is a cap on employee retirement allowance, an increase in education allowance (with a decrease in grade requirement), limiting changes for "new" employees, one more paid holiday and a LARGE pay increase for the Board. *****************

From these approved changes:
"HR Committee revisions to Employee Manual

Purpose:  To ensure fair compensation and benefits for employees, the continued solvency of the Company and value for customers.

On page 8 of these manual changes, -apparently an addition to the manual:
"Exempt Employees Manual

Directors’ Compensation In-lieu of Health Insurance Benefits: 

The Company will pay to a Director the premium normally paid to the Health Insurance carrier for the Medical, Dental and Vision coverage.  When premium rates are increased or decreased by the insurance carrier, compensation in-lieu of benefits shall be adjusted by an equal amount.

One can easily conclude that, rather than providing health insurance, this change simply increased the Board member by the amount of the insurance. 

For more information see the Salt Lake Tribune article here. which refers to  "the board released a prepared statement Wednesday"  reported in the Tribune article.
Here is that statement:

“Last summer the HR committee of Heber Light & Power’s Board undertook a comprehensive review of all the benefits offered to the Company’s employees and Board Members.

The review included an assessment as to the Power Board Member’s eligibility to participate in the Company’s health benefit plan and it was determined that Board Members were eligible to receive the health benefits plan.  Upon approval by the Board, effective July 1, 2011, the Board Members were offered the Company’s health benefits plan.

The Heber Light & Power Board is committed to providing its member’s and employee’s reasonable compensation and benefits to maintain a highly skilled and motivated team. This team works to ensure reliable, reasonably priced electricity is available to all of our customers; extension of these benefits will not result in a rate increase to customers nor affect service.”

Does this mean that the pay raise was also RETROACTIVE???

For even more here to read Councilman McDonald's report. 
    and further here in the Wasatch Currant 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Heber Light and Power Board PAY increase

Elected Official have historically served on subsidiary boards with no, or a token, payment. They are paid for their official duties and are, or should be, aware of both the duties AND the pay before they were elected.

In recent year, the trend has been to offer pay for board service. This decision has NOT been made by those paying the bill, but by those receiving the money. In particular, early last year the governing board of Heber Light and Power was being paid $400 or so for one meeting a month.

Late last year, the board approved an effective pay raise to $20,000 to $30,000 per year.

This increase should be rescinded immediately and better yet, anywhere possible, board membership should be returned to the (non elected) service oriented residents. Many would be willing to do so if invited. Government of the people, by the people and for the people

Enough is Enough

A petition has been posted here for those asking HL & P to rescind their unwarranted pay increase.

The Petition

Whereas, Late last year some members of the Heber Light and Power governing board, decided to provide themselves with fully paid health insurance or the option to receive an equivalent amount in payment.

Whereas, The Board is constituted of self appointed elected officials.

Whereas, The total cost of this benefit is estimated to be in excess of $150,000 annually, which will be paid by the users of the service.

Whereas, This amount will be paid from either excess charge already received or a future increase in utility rates.

Whereas, While portrayed as a health "benefit," the 'option' indicates this is simply a substantial pay increase (possibly disguised as a tax free benefit).

We, the citizens of the Heber Valley, hereby call on the HL&P Board to rescind this decision and return to proper fiscal policies of conservative operation for the public service which the utility is supposed to be.

Current Board members: Dave Phillips, Chair (Heber City)(654-0574,;  Mike Kohler (Wasatch Co.) (654-2300,,  John Whiting (Charleston)(654-2343,,  Connie Tatton (Midway) (654-2416,, Jeff Bradshaw (Heber City)(,  Robert Patterson (Heber City) (654-2648,
The decision was made by an affirmative vote of the previous Board.   Members Kohler and MacDonald were absent but have expressed disapproval. 

Alan McDonald was recently replaced. Prior member Benny Mergist has also been replaced.