Scott Phillips/Interview 2017
Scott Phillips sat down with us for an interview on 27/Oct/2017.
Sean: What inspired you to get involved with the City Council?
Scott: Hmm. Probably at first, wanting to improve on our roads, I guess, has been one of my biggest - the roads,the infrastructure, seeing where the money has been spent, I guess. And I've learned a lot in the 12 years that I've been there, you know. But, we're gaining on the roads, we have bought equipment in house, so now we do it in-house rather than hire it out, so now we're getting close to 3 times the amount done. Now, I'm not saying that it's the perfect scenario because the problem we have is that in the older parts of town, the infrastructure is pretty much shot, all we're really doing is making the roads drivable so that the residents aren't spending most of their time at the tire shop getting flat tires fixed, or bent rims, or alignments, you know, on a continuous basis. Depending on the winter, I mean, if it's a bad winter we end up having bigger issues. We're gaining but we still have a lot to go. But, you know, because we run out of money, the B&C road funds, umm, we go through 'em so fast. Without going to the residents and asking for, a road fee, if you will, to help pay for roads, but I'd rather, if it come to that, I'd rather the people vote for that on a ballot than me trying to force a tax on another person. Because they already have a storm drain tax, fee that I'm not really - I think that they've done that for 20 years and I don't really see that we've made a lot of headway. In '18 it'll be 20 years, so it's 19 years. And it's 400-and-something thousand dollars a year and so, in 20 years, that's a lot of money, and I don't feel like we've spent it where it should have went, so...
Sean: How would you describe the job of a City Councilor?
Scott: I feel like I'm a hands-on guy. Some of them have other jobs. I'm here local, so I'm able to dedicate a lot more time and get pretty involved with, like I said, the road crew, water crew, you know, the inner working of our public works, I guess, per say, sewer plant, electrical somewhat. I like having a good rapport with the staff. Like I said, anybody does their job, I don't have a problem with, but if they're lazy, I have a problem. You know and I do think that they should be, maybe given a chance, but at some point if their not going get better they need to be moved on and replaced.
Sean: And, working with them closely, you probably get a pretty good idea how it's going.
Scott: The problem is if you don't take care of the less productive employees then it can snowball on you and then the rest of them say "well he's gettin' the same pay I am. I don't have any incentive to - he's getting the same pay I am, why should I bust my butt?"
Sean Do you have a lot of roadblocks to getting rid of the less productive people?
Scott: Mmm. It's not that easy. They have Utah Public Employees Association. UPEA they call it. And it's, there's a process. The mayor can't go out and fire 'em. The City Council couldn't go out and fir 'em. It has to be done through our city manager.
Sean: Now, is that a state mandated thing, or is that a county mandated thing? Do you know where that comes from?
Scott: It depends on the style of government that you have; If you have a strong mayor or a weak mayor. That's the deal. So, we really have a weak mayor. Probably 16 years ago they voted to make him a weak mayor. So, they don't really have the power to hire and fire.
Sean: Oh, OK. Is that the city that decided that then?
Scott: It was the City Council. There was a mayor in place who didn't like the next mayor coming in and so they...
Sean: So, on his way out he said "well, maybe we should make this position weak"
Scott: And it stuck, and I guess I have an issue with that. If the residents want a weak mayor they should vote on it. If they want a strong mayor they should vote on it. That's what I think.
Sean: What responsibility do you see individual citizens as having in promoting their own welfare and the welfare of society and what kind of limitations do you see to that responsibility.
Scott: What do you mean? like, give me an example of what you mean. I think people should take care of their yard. I really do. I think that you shouldn't have to live next door to a dump, or somebody that doesn't have the ambition... Now, that being said, if they're disabled, I think, you know, go out and do goodwill or go help them or get a group or a non-profit organization to go help the people, I think.
Sean: If you're elected, how might you be able to act like a check against abuses perpetrated by other government officers?
Scott: As in other councilmen or ...
Sean: Other councilmen, the mayor, judges...
Scott: Like I said, I pretty much got it figured out after 12 years. So it don't take you long to... I don't think we've had any in the past that I know, that any council members that I've worked with. Because, I've got to know them all. I don't think there's any of some of the stuff that goes on in Washington by any means. I don't think we've ever had conflict of interest or found out that somebody's you know on a board, and that there's, you know, a conflict and there might be sha- I've never seen any of that stuff. And I've been with, let's see, this is my, second mayor. Second mayor, I guess. And, we have a turnover of council members every two years. It's on a two year rotation. Yeah, it's a four year term, but three come up and then two councilmen and a mayor come up. This year is two council members and a mayor.
Sean: I know that one of the other candidates running used to be a council member, but I think he had the last 2 years off.
Scott: Yeah, Mike Hardy. Yeah.
Sean: I saw in the news that UVU was planning to build some kind of satellite campus in Payson. Do we have any idea where that would be located?
Scott: Yeah, so when you come off the first Payson exit, where you can see the power plant. It would just be just before that. Where you see that sign that says Payson Santaquin Chamber of Commerce; pretty much right there.
Sean: So, just north of that 250 exit.
Scott: Mmm hmm.Yeah, kind of, if you want to call it north-east. They've come and announced that. Their timeframe is somewhere in the 10 year timeframe.
Sean: That's a nice location. That puts them close to the freeway and there's lot's of open space right there.
Scott: Yes, and then last night we had the open house up to the high school about the new interchange. So it will be in between the Benjamin exit and the 250 exit, and then so right out here where there's the El Rancho nursing home. I don't know if you've seen that before, rehabilitation center.
Sean: Oh yes. Yes, I have.
Scott: That's where that will come in to.
Sean: New interchange. OK. That's interesting. I was going to ask you about that because my mother-in-law, she's been curious about that.
Scott: Yeah, they had a big thing up to the high school last night. A big blown up map on quite few tables. Pretty interesting.
Scott: I think, you know, and I'm going to say; I think at best, it's 4 to 5 years before that's. And maybe longer, I don't know, in 10 or so. There's no funding available currently, so. I think what plays into that is, in my opinion, the bid for the Olympics again. So, that could take the money.
Sean: Yeah, if we do that, then the money goes up there. As the governor was saying, he thinks he'd support it only if the private businesses are gonna pay for it. I don't know how you would do that, but, whatever he says, that may not be what happens.
Sean: In the primary, if my numbers were correct, you came in a close third trailing right behind Taressa Hiatt. What do you think sets you apart from Taressa.
Scott: Experience. I've done it. And, I know one thing. It take three to do anything. You got to count the three.If you don't have two other votes with you, you have nothing. And I feel like my ideas, for the most part, I've been successful in working with the other council members. 'Cause like I said, I was big in getting our own equipment to fix the roads with instead of hiring it done and we'd never get anywhere. At least now, like I said, we can go out there and skim patch and get rid of the chuck holes and make them driveable. It's the next best thing. The best thing would be curb and gutter. But, I guess my issue is, I paid for mine, you paid for yours here. They need to pay for theirs but that being said, we've kind of implemented a plan out there that the city will be the bank and they'll make payments up to six years and then when the city puts a lean against their house or if they was to sell, pass on, whatever then they would get reimbursed their money back. It's an interest free loan, so it's a good deal for them.
Sean: OK, so the city offers then... well, does the city do the work itself?
Scott: No, they'll get a cont - the homeowners get a bid and say hey, we're gettin' a bid - It's got to be a licensed contractor. We're getting a bid for - it's 4, 5 thousand dollars to get curb, gutter, and sidewalk on an average of 100 foot frontage. And then the city does the asphalt tie-in at the city's expense. But, the homeowner has to pay for the curb and gutter improvement. But, the thing of it is got to happen because all these people up above, I mean the water goes downhill and the people on the bottom were getting flooded, well, you know. Back in 1990, before 1990, we had irrigation ditches, and then we went to a pressurized irrigation system, and the problem is, they told everybody to cover in their ditches so now there's nowhere for the water to go in them older parts of town where they covered in their ditches.
Sean: So, before, when those ditches were in place, did those take the water out then to Utah lake?
Scott: Yeah, well it would take it to your prop - most of these - there was a lot more farm ground like this area right here was all farm ground, up until...
Sean: But the excess would probably head out to the lake for flood run-off.
Scott: Mmm hmm.
Sean: Yeah I've noticed, driving around, that there are some places that still use the ditches. Like out in, where was I, I think that was Benjamin.
Scott: Oh yeah, yeah. They're all, they're not on pressurized at all. It's all irrigation down there.
Sean: West Mountain has got a lot of pressurized.
Scott: So, most of that water comes from Strawberry Reservoir, down Spanish Fork Canyon and then it come through this Highline Canal and down or the Spanish Fork River. Same water.
Sean: Yeah, and I've seen the ditches close by...
Scott: The one right out here?
Sean: Yeah, right out here.
Scott: That water going by the LDS church down right down here. You know, there's a couple, but for the most part.
Scott: Pretty much. Yeah, the rest have all the farmers' ground has pretty much been sold off until you get around the point of the mountain; head towards Santaquin. You've got all the orchards and stuff and then you got that again.
Sean: Yeah. Off to the south there. So, the next question, is probably a slightly uncomfortable one. So there was an incident about 10 years ago that you probably would rather forget about. You had an altercation with a couple of youth that were tagging your truck. In reading about this incident I understand that the police were eventually able to track down some witnesses who substantiated what you were saying. Is there any way in which you feel the police or the courts could have handled your case better?
Scott: No, I pleaded no contest. I know what I did. My issue was - how did I put that? I was gonna fight it, but they finally charged the kids and I was happy. It was pretty much dropped after that. No, Payson police couldn't respond. There was a conflict, so it went to Salem.
Sean: Conflict of interests.
Scott: I guess, you know, because we'd been having - it was at a business right up here up the road and we'd been having quite bit of trouble with graffiti.
Sean: And that kind of feeds into my next question. Does Payson have any significant gang activity? I mean, coming from southern California, it seems relatively peaceful to me, but...
Scott: Yeah, I do, I think so. I think there's a little bit of - what's the right word? Hispanic gangs a little bit. I think we had a little bit more, we had a change in our Chief of Police. I think our officers, because he has a different management style then the last one, our officers are out on patrol a lot more, so I would have to say it's went down. Now, that being said, I still think there's some problems in the neighborhoods where they'll go bash a window out for a dollar. If they can see a dollar - some people leave coins or money sitting out in their car and they can shine a flashlight in there. People, you know, are desperate, maybe they're a druggie, I don't know. They pop the window out and steal the money. Now, I'm not saying it's a nightly occurrence. You'll see on Facebook, that somebody's took a screwdriver to a door to pry it open. I haven't seen anything too much over here for a while, but that isn't to say that, like I said. I think your biggest thing is neighborhood watches, you know, being aware, locking your cars, putting them under lights, that kind of stuff. Motion lights, I think that's a big thing. You know, it didn't used to be that way, but as your population grows so does your problems.
Sean: Yup, that is absolutely true.
Sean: What factors do you feel drive this gang activity? Where do you think it's coming from and what do you think motivates it?
Scott: I don't know, because I think this stuff starts in the home with the parents. That's what I think. You know I guess I respected my father to know that I'd better not be getting in trouble because I was more afraid of my Dad than I was the police, and, like I said, I still think it starts in the home. I don't know. Like I said, I never had the desire, I've never been out wanting to go out and steal, I've never went out to go out there and vandalize. I don't get the concept, I guess. I really can't answer that. I don't know what they think in their head. I don't get it.
Sean: With the current growth being experienced in Utah County, it seems inevitable that all the cities up and down the I-15 will be experiencing some growing pains, whether it be traffic, or space or crime or - as you described - or water. What changes do you see coming to Payson in the near future?
Scott: As far as?
Sean: Well, as far as growing pains. What do you think citizens are going to notice about life getting harder, or what challenges do you think the city's gonna be facing?
Scott: Well, we have an undersized pressurized irrigation system that's got to be addressed pretty dang quick. Because there are some proposed developments down here straight north of us on the Arrowhead Trail and you just can't keep adding a hose to a hose to a hose. We have to put a bigger pipe in up at top to be able to service it, because I know that not too far from here, there's a guy at the end of the line and he's got some pretty sad water pressure.
Sean: Don't want to be that guy. Does the city currently have plans to address that?
Scott: Yeah, but it's all about the money. We don't have the money. To me, the only way you're gonna fix it is bonds. You know, and that's what we've done in the last 8 years is lower our debt, but, like I said, for some things, you just don't have the cash and you've got to go bond.
Sean: So that relates to a ranking that the Libertas Institute did back in 2015 where they ranked the top 50 most populous cities in Utah based on how free they were, as they measure it. And they have various ways they measure it and I don't know how they prioritize one issue over the other, but Payson came in number 28 by their ranking, receiving praise for its lack of lobbyists and censure for having a 19.65% debt limit utilization. Are there any practical things that you feel the city ought to do to increase the liberty available to its citizens?
Scott: I don't know. I can't think of any as far as - nah, just I don't know. What do you think?
Sean: Well, you talked about the debt being driven down, which definitely would improve the ranking based on what they had. And I think if I was to go and compare what the Libertas Institute had to say about Payson with, say, some of the other cities, I might come up with some ideas. I know I personally, am a big fan of seeing - I like to review municipal codes - I read almost all of it when I was living in southern California, in Norwalk. But, I haven't been through a whole lot of it here yet, but...
Scott: I believe in, definitely, private property rights, for sure. That being said I don't know that I'm comfortable with your neighbor having a rooster that crows all night and I think you have a right that you should be able to sleep. You know what I'm saying. I'm all about, you want to have some hens? Go ahead. Or, you gotta do something with the rooster. So, I'm all about private property rights, as long as it doesn't affect the neighbor next door, you know. And I think, you know, some of these places are grandfathered in if they've have your animals, they get to keep them. Animal rights. Probably not [?] over here, like the [neighbor's] old house. You know, they've had animals on the property. They get to keep them. You know, unless they take them away for a year and then there's a good chance you could lose them. As far as that, I don't think...
Sean: Yeah, I hear their goat sometimes, at least I think it's a goat. Could be a sheep. I'm not very good on those animal noises.
Scott: As the city grows, then them things go away. I don't know if I agree with somebody having a pet pig or something because they stink so much. But, you know, if they keep them clean and they don't bother the neighbors, then I don't have a problem. I know a few years ago there was a guy on the north end of town that had a kangaroo because he had an autistic kid and it helped his kid. I don't think anybody had a problem with him.
Sean: There have been rumors, that they might be extending the trains.
Sean: Yeah, UTA might be putting in a station.
Scott: I don't know. My opinion, I don't think you'll see that for 15, 20 years. You know, I think, that being said, what's going to drive that is the attendance of UVU.
Sean: Yeah, that would probably have a lot to do with that.
Scott: And there's some high density housing going that's gonna be within 1000 yards of that just getting ready to start down there now by the sewer plant. On the second exit - on the Walmart exit - we have a transportation oriented development so you'll pretty much be able to shop, do everything in place you won't have to drive. You know, eating places. But we're planning for it now so that you can get right up. If you really, if you didn't want to have a car, you wouldn't have to. You know what I'm sayin'. You could ride the frontrunner all the way even going north. Everything would be right there in a walking distance to be able to meet your needs as far as that goes.