City creates introductory government classes
Jan 25, 2017 05:28PM
● By Tori LaRue
Herriman Mayor Carmen Freeman watches as Alan Rae, Herriman’s finance director, teaches the first Government 101 class offered by city leaders. Herriman administration created the courses to help residents learn the inner workings of city government. (Tori La Rue/City Journals)
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By Tori La Rue | [email protected]
Herriman City administration created free and online-friendly Government 101 courses after residents expressed their desires to understand more about city operations in recent city council meetings.
“These classes will give our residents insight to what goes on so they can have a level of understanding of government that will give them confidence,” Mayor Carmen Freeman said. “The challenge right now is that people are interested in things that are going on, but they don’t know how processes work.”
Tami Moody, Herriman’s public information officer, is already at work coordinating schedules for the classes. Herriman administrative staff members will teach courses that concern their expertise. For example, Alan Rae, Herriman’s finance director, taught the first Government 101 course on the city budget on Jan. 9.
Residents can attend the classes held at the Herriman City Hall, 13011 South Pioneer Street, in person or from anywhere with an internet connection. Each meeting is streamed through Facebook Live on the Herriman City Facebook page.
The class is intended to be interactive, and Moody encourages both the in-person and distance students to ask questions. When Facebook viewers had questions during the Jan. 9 meeting, Moody read the questions aloud for Rae to answer during his presentation.
“Even if people can’t make it to class or watch the class on Facebook during the time we have available, we will link it to our website, so in the future people can take the classes whenever they want,” she said. “It will be like an archive.”
While Freeman, Moody, Councilwoman Coralee Moser, City Manager Brett Wood, City Communication Specialist Destiny Skinner and three residents were the only in-person Government 101 participants at the inaugural class, the one-hour course segment reached more than 700 views after less than 24 hours on Facebook.
“I’ve really appreciated this forum to present major topics so that those who cannot make it live, like myself, are able to participate,” Dan Adams said in a Facebook comment.
Shauna and Darrell Heiner, who were present at the city offices during Rae’s presentation, said they plan to come out to more meetings.
“I think these things help you learn the facts so that you can be an educated voter,” Shauna Heiner said. “If we have a bond that comes up, and you don’t understand what a bond is or how Herriman gets its money or anything, then how can you be an educated voter? If you come to these, you will have a better idea of how everything works.”
Darrell Heiner mentioned his surprise at how Herriman receives a relatively small amount, 2.6 percent, of total property tax compared to Jordan School District’s 45 percent. He said he always hears people criticizing the city about how high property tax is but had never researched how much money the city actually makes off the tax.
Here are some other highlights from Rae’s presentation at the Jan. 9 Government 101 class:
- Herriman has never had a truth in taxation hearing which means the city hasn’t had a property increase since its incorporation.
- The Herriman City Council must give the public seven days’ notice before holding a public hearing to change part of the city’s budget.
- A city must have a balanced budget according to state law and cannot have less than 5 percent or more than 25 percent of expected revenues left over at the end of a fiscal year.
- Herriman receives 2.6 percent of property taxes.
- Roughly half of Herriman’s expenses from the 2015–16 budget calendar were used to build infrastructure.
- Herriman has about $64 million in debt, but retains a AA-rating with Standard and Poor financial services. This is comparable to a general credit score of approximately 800, according to Rae.
The next Government 101 class held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 15 will focus on land use, including information on the general plan and zoning. The following course on Feb. 21 is centered on economic development.
Moody said future classes will likely feature these topics: functions of the planning commission, how to run for public office, bonding, parks and recreation, history of the Herriman Towne Center and more.