The Huntsville Glass

August 2006 Volume 3

Friday, September 1, 2006

Happy 4th of July?

This article was intended to address the Huntsville 4th of July Celebration, but because I believe that what has happened to our celebration is indicative of what has happened to our Town, I have to address both.

Some questions must be asked, the most important being, “What income does the town of Huntsville really need in order to run?” We have B&C road funds to fix our roads, water revenue as it is now, to maintain, preserve, and protect our water, sales and property tax revenue, and court revenue (which nets far more than you might think). These are just some of the ways our town is financed. Must we also put on a circus on the 4th of July to create more revenue? And for what purpose? To make more money to spend on things we really don’t need? Why are we advertising our festivities as far South and West Ogden? Who are we inviting to our town? Do we not have enough people in Huntsville, extended family, friends, and people who return yearly to fill our park?

At this point, I think we need to decide what direction our little town will take. Do we maintain our values in spite of the reasons we hear all of the time now, such as economic gain, progress, inevitability due to growth; or do we succumb to these pressures, all of which have a detrimental, deteriorating effect on our quality of life? I believe that some of the original town fathers had enough sense and foresight to make Huntsville a township, so that we could control our own destiny and not be at the mercy of those around us. Those same town fathers had a vision of communal well-being, and we, as stewards of that vision, have an obligation to enhance and improve a town spirit, an environment in posterity to be enjoyed by those who come after us. In order to achieve this, there must be community participation. It becomes easy to let someone else take care of things when we all are busy with work and family. But when we become apathetic and complacent, things start to run unchecked, and that is unhealthy in any community.

Asking questions of town leaders should never be construed as accusation of wrongdoing. Citizens should be comfortable asking for accountability of town leaders without fear of reprisal. The people who ask questions should be applauded, rather than criticized, because they care enough about the town to ask the questions. We have annexation, water, and budget issues that require everyone’s attention and input. We must also be willing to stand up and comment on issues, even at the risk of offending family, friends, and neighbors.

Which brings me back to the 4th of July. NOW . . . I have watched with sadness, as year by year, our little town celebration has dwindled into a commercial carnival. It has had little, if anything, to do with patriotism or town spirit. Don’t get me wrong, God bless the people who work so hard and give so much of their time in an effort to make things nice for the rest of us. This includes the folks who put on the breakfast, parade, melodrama, bake sale, and all of those that donate to the town auction. They deserve our appreciation (and probably a lot more help from their friends and neighbors. That being said, I remember when the whole community was involved in the 4th of July. Family, school, civic, and church groups took the time to decorate floats, which were not extravagant but thought provoking and fun. There used to be a theme, a master of ceremonies, prizes for best, originality, etc.

Now, people (not all, but most) slap a banner on the side of their vehicle, grab their squirt guns and bags of candy and drive down the road. Most of the kids didn’t even bother to decorate their bikes this year. Are we so busy that tradition has no value anymore? The Probasco family tractors, the kids that represent our schools, and the Civil War Platoon are almost the only traditional things left in our parade. Our own mayor wasn’t even present in our town parade.

There was also a time when we had activities that kept people in the park all day and they certainly didn’t include real estate pavilions or big blow-up things that cost $3.00 a shot. I have heard that the town makes $40,000 or so off of the 4th, and that this year, because it rained, we only made $20,000. I’m sorry, but I have to call B.S. on this even if the figures are wrong by double. It didn’t start raining until almost 4:30 pm. Most people have been leaving the park a couple of hours after the parade for the past several years (with the exception of those that stick around for the auction). There is nothing to keep them in the park and vendors take up most of the shaded areas. People don’t return until 8:00 or 9:00 pm, in time for the dance and fireworks (I don’t believe that we double our revenue on pop sales in the evening).

What happened to the miniature rodeo? It was mentioned that the insurance cost for this went up drastically. How is it then that smaller communities than ours still have rodeos? I’m sure that the rodeo made enough money to continue each year. Perhaps the people who put it on got tired of the money disappearing into the general fund instead of being put side for what it was intended. Vendors are the people who make the vast majority of the profit on the 4th (and I DON”T mean the town breakfast). When you charge a vendor say $150 for a booth and he nets $2,500, what sense does that make? I guess about the same as letting someone put together an auction of donated items and then letting him take 15% of the proceeds off the top (not this year, but for several years prior). Community spirit?

And if we are in fact making such a big profit on the 4th, why can’t we afford local musical talent throughout the day that appeals to all ages? We used to. I’ll bet we have older citizens that would be willing to tell stories about the early years in Huntsville. Maybe they would even do it for free if we provide the shade and lemonade. What about pie-eating contests, sack races, horseshoe tossing, auctioning picnic baskets, and things that appeal to all ages and promote family and neighbor competition? How about having local citizens donate time in food and fun booths, the proceeds of which go back to the town?

Sounds like a lot? If every family in Huntsville donated half an hour in booths and game stations we’d have the day covered. It seems to me that we would make enough money without having to advertise as far as South Ogden again next year and even more important, wouldn’t it bring our town closer together? The fireworks are spectacular, but they were just as wonderful when they were paid for by citizens and local businesses rather than by larger groups who may expect favors in return (not that this would ever happen?)

Again, what are our priorities? Sometimes, more and bigger are not necessarily best. Take our beautiful state-of-the-art park for instance. We have spent a lot of money refurbishing and adding facilities, to what end? The park is now being used almost exclusively by non-residents. (check the coming events)

I wrote this article because I love this town and would hate to see it turn into the very thing that people everywhere are trying to get away from. The value of our town and what we have here, can’t be measured in dollars. However it can change quickly, and if people in town don’t start becoming more involved, we may as well look for a couple of big money sponsors to build us a giant roller-coaster in our park and invite the world!

The strength of a vibrant community comes from the interaction and participation of all of its citizens. We do not have to be, nor should we try to be, anything but what we are:
A unique, uncomplicated, family oriented, little town.

On an end note, I’d like to say that what was put together on the 24th was far more patriotic and had more of a home town feeling than the 4th has had for several years. The park was filled with local people. The girls who sang did a beautiful job and the whole experience was wonderful and memorable! We need to take our 4th of July Celebration back!

I welcome your responses.

Thank you,
Carol Conway

Letters To The Editor

(D-Bell spoke the following words during the June 15th Public Hearing. He was the lone dissenting voice (again). This only succeeded in getting the Mayor’s proposal to raise our water rates a 7th time “tabled” until the July 20th Town Meeting when it will again be proposed.)

“I have great respect for all the effort and dedication it takes to work on the budgets for the four funds with Reserves recommended by the auditors and the State. And the Mayor and Mrs. Clapperton are to be commended for their dedication and work. My comments are intended as objective and in no way personal or do I wish to impugn anyone’s integrity. That said: As a resident I want to state my objections to proposed rate increases for both Water and Garbage collection.

Since water projects began we will have endured SEVEN rate increases amounting to a more than a 500% increase. (April ’91 from $6/mo to $7.50/mo, May ’97 $9/mo, Nov. ’97 $21/month (133% increase), Sep. ’99 $25/month (19% increase, then $27 month, then $30/mo, now $32/month) if this passes.

I am also aware that the rate increase is designed once again to help ultimately increase an Enterprise Reserve Fund (EDITORS NOTE: THIS IS WHAT THE WATER/GARBAGE FUND IS CALLED) from the current $100,000 (approx.) balance to $250,000 for a contingency fund. (The Mayor then stated the Enterprise fund was actually much lower and he wanted the Cemetary Fund to be raised to the $250,000 figure., and to help make Enterprise fund self-sufficient without depending on transfers from either the General or the Capitol Projects Fund for an additional $30,000 for wages. But the major monetary draws to the Water/Garbage Fund are in fact Capitol Projects! Reference the current and future water line replacement projects, meter installations, etc., and many others in the past.

We are already paying between $326 and $356,000 a year for our drinking water. That is more than $2,000 per household or $167 per month in actual household costs. Friends we are drinking some of the most expensive water in the United States, truth be known. But that aside, as a citizen I fee the rate increase proposal can be more than offset by adjusting the Capital Projects Fun Budget. For example: The Capital Projects Budget shows $24,000 more being spent on Town Buildings. $21,000 more on the Park, and $5,000 more on Town signage. This after we have just spent $32,000 on these projects this year already.

RAMP Funding is an additional $16,000 and has been approved for use on the Park. So why do we need to spend another $66,000 on the Town buildings and Park for Capital Improvements? They look great just like they are! My poll is overwhelmingly in favor of not spending any money ($5,000 or $6,000) on concrete curbing or sidewalks on the west side of the Park for example. Most like it just the way it is. Another leading citizen recently said, “Please, no more buildings on the Park.”

I am suggesting that there is plenty of “Fat” built into the Capital Projects Budget to more than cover the proposed Water rate increase which will yield only about $30,000 at best. One thing about water rates, garbage collection, and taxes they never seem to go down. So when we blithely and apathetically accept these increases we have then for the rest of our natural lives.

Decisions to raise rates therefore should not be made whimsically or prematurely without absolute certainty there is a real need. In this case there is “fat” in the Capital Projects Budget (and perhaps even more elsewhere) and more than adequate Reserve Funds (in excess of $100,000) should they even be required.

Secondly, Econo Waste has not to my knowledge increased its collection fees nor renegotiated its contract. (Mayor McKay stated actually the Contract has a
1 ½ % increase built-in. To which D-Bell stated that equals about .18, hardly justifying the requested rate increase.) This makes the proposed Waste Collection rate increase effectively nothing more than an arbitrary tax increase or stealth addition to the proposed Water rate increase (both being a part of the same Enterprise Fund) . . . “just because it has been a while since the last one.” This is not a good enough excuse for at least this resident. This rate increase will only add $6,000 roughly to the Enterprise Fund, which is actually the Water Fund mostly.

And again for the reasons I stated before, it is not necessary. I ask therefore respectfully request that the Town Council reject any proposal to increase either water or garbage collection rates this year.

What can YOU do? Call the Councilmen and tell them you don’t want any more water rate increases or garbage collection increases. 3 votes out of 5 is what it takes to defeat these constant, unending and unnecessary rate hikes. Huntsville used to be a nonprofit Town before the current Administration, which is now run at the behest of appointments to unadvertised paid positions smacking of cronyism. If you do not exercise your right, and duty as a citizen then don’t complain about it later.
Thank you, D. Bell Huntsville

Culinary Water

Do you know what you’re really paying for water?

While figures have not been made available, after asking for this public information besides what’s been stated in the Budget, it’s unknown what the exact accounting is on our Culinary System. But here’s what can be gleaned:

1) We seem to have received a Grant in the amount of 3.4 MILLION DOLLARS on our Culinary Water System. Our payback on this loan is 1.7 MILLION DOLLARS. The Mayors proposed increase results in around $900 more a month in revenue. It’s so insignificant in the scheme of things – why bother? We’re already in debt up to our eyeballs! AS FOLLOWS:

2) We are paying $40,000 in INTEREST ALONE each year towards this debt. Divide that debt between 300 hookups, (get your checkbooks out) and it comes to over $100,000 per household., and we’re all going to be paying for it for the next 35 to 40 years! And this DOES NOT include any more improvements to the system – like our half of the cost of the current project which is $218,000. And there are more projects in the works.

If the figures that HAVE been given are correct, we are running a Water Budget that is costing around $2,000 PER HOUSEHOLD per year – which is $167 per month in actual costs. We are entirely dependent on Government Grants to fund our water – (as well as to operate our Town). While some people see no problem with this, others of us do, and it leads to other problems.

3) There are around 225 households in Huntsville Town. The rest of these hookups are OUTSIDE of Town boundaries, and growing. The Mayor states that our system is designed to work at “peak efficiency” – (as long as we have water!) – of around 760 households. (We’ll talk about the annexation issues at another time) But this also expands the costs of maintenance on that system. So while the Town can generate more income from additional hookups – it will also add more costs of maintenance. We’re running the risk of spreading our precious water resources thin, as we keep selling it to pay for the system we’ve gone in debt for 35 to 40 years, at the tune of $100,000 per household. We’d call this a Catch-22. (You can look it up)

QUESTIONS: Who decides who gets these other 460 hookups? Who decides how much they are going to charge for them? How soon will more people who have water live OUTSIDE of Town than in? While droughts are occurring all over the Western United States and all over the world, why would we put our water resources in jeopardy?

It speaks for its importance that our Water Budget is nearly as big as our Town Budget, and has put residents in millions of dollars worth of debt, to service people outside of our Town. What are the CLEAR and STATED intentions behind these decisions?

These questions go unanswered, and any information concerning them is really hard to come by. Hopefully, this lack of transparency in our Culinary Water situation, which is our most important asset, will clear up, and soon! Our next edition will be dedicated to information and discussion about our Water.

So stay tuned !


We hope you all survived your Tax Notices? If California can come up with a solution to hold down taxes, Utah can too. We hope someone will take the reins, and come up with the solution.

We’re grateful for the positive responses we’ve received about The Huntsville Glass. In fact, we figure if we can put out these mailers every once in a while, just what “savings” does Secondary Water enjoy doing ONE billing per year? It’s also a weak argument that it has to be done by the Town for “bonding” (insurance) purposes, because it kind of leaves the Board and Secretary out to hang, doesn’t it? Again, we urge the Board to rethink this decision, and retain anything remotely connected with our privately owned water company from intermingling with the Town, our Town water, or the Town Budget.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Don't Shoot The Messenger

There have been several items in the news of late, involving exposure at all levels of public officials private and public misconduct (an on-going malady). It’s a problem because it’s usually at taxpayer expense, or officials are getting preferential treatment that the rest of the public doesn’t receive. It’s hard to watch anyone we’ve supported, or set on pedestals, betray our trust in them. They are just humans, and we all have a tendency to justify others bad behaviors because we’re prone to do that with ourselves. While there’s a lot of gray area – no matter how “good” someone is, there is still right and wrong. Truth and facts – as far as we can discover them - are still measurements that we should live our lives by. If things are purposely kept or hidden from us, how can we form opinions, come to conclusions, or make good decisions? It’s important to expose the mis-use of power and position, to keep all levels of government, and the people we empower, in restraint. The Founding Fathers recognized the importance of keeping a free press and supporting free speech, to help maintain those checks and balances. Access to as much information as we can get can help us make rational and reasonable decisions. Especially about who we can trust, and put into positions of power..

If and when anyone, in a position of leadership, whether it be in a small social group, club, church leadership, elected town officials, state government (elected or appointed) or national hierarchy, use any means of power or position to stifle, control, or contain the open and legal right of the members to information concerning the actions taken or the decisions made by them, BEWARE. There is an agenda afoot or a personal, self-serving benefit and a whiff of impropriety about!

Which brings us back to our little Town. Why are there “special” citizens of our Town who don’t seem to be required to adhere to, or follow the rules, laws, and ordinances that are in effect for the rest of us? Look around! Get information. Ask questions. Be involved! Everyone should be treated the same and be able to enjoy the same rights from a fair, unbiased, unafraid group of leaders. While deception and misconduct swirl through all levels of government around us, this is the least we should expect here.


Your comments, responses, opinions, and further enlightenment are welcome. And, may be published upon request to do so. All contributions and donations to continue this effort towards open discussion of issues facing our Town can now be sent to:

The Huntsville Glass
PO Box 101
Huntsville, Utah 84317
Or Email to

If you haven’t received previous issues, let us know – we’ll be happy to send them to you. Many more informative issues will be forthcoming. We hope you enjoy!

(For further open dialogue about issues concerning the Valley:

with links to:

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